Pronounced “Eppay”, the epée is a much heavier weapon than the foil and has a much larger guard, which protects the whole hand.
Epée was conceived as being better representation of a duelling situation than foil. Because of this, the whole body, including hands and head, is counted as valid target area, which is why the weapon has a larger guard.
When fencing began as a sport, hits were counted the other way around; the one receiving the hit had his score increased, and lost when his score reached 5 points. In epée, this could result in a “double defeat”, where at 4-4, a double hit was scored and so both fencers were considered to have "lost" the bout.
After all, in a duel, you win by surviving without being hit!
Because epée is intended to simulate a rapier duel, the whole body is counted as valid target area. This is why the weapon has a larger guard, making the hand more difficult to hit.
As with foil, hits are scored only with the point of the weapon, but to continue the analogy of the “first blood” duel, there is no right of way, the point goes to the fencer who hits first. If both hit within 1/25 second of each other, both fencers score a point.
Epée is also one of the disciplines in Modern Pentathlon, along with swimming, horse-riding, running and shooting.
The fencing part of the pentathlon is one-hit epée. This is a true duel representation, where the winner is the first fencer to score a hit.
No second chances!