Living in the venue city for Summer Nationals has a few advantages. Chief of which is that I can check out things whenever I please, and take care of purchases and weapon checks early. On Saturday I bought a brand new Leon Paul epee - and since I didn't bring my equipment bag with me I had to carry it around. No less than three people stopped me: one of my former opponents who made fun of the rain gutter look (I prefer it to my STM FIE, screw 'em), a ragged looking guy on the street who begged to hold it, and one of my attractive neighbors who recognized it and wanted me to show it to her three year old son. He was so careful holding the handle, and I asked if he wanted to learn to use it someday and he yelled "YES!!" Awesome. Nothing like encouraging stylized violence and emptying a parent's pocketbook all at the same time.
Speaking of pocketbooks - I try to avoid spending a whole lot of money on this sport. Cost is an issue when I look at clubs, and I buy lessons when I know for a fact that I need them and they will help. I buy weapons based on their reputation and reliability - while at the same time I am always on the look out for a deal. My uniform is a LP Atlanta Range FIE, and I spent the money for two reasons. First, I spent $180 or so on my old club Santelli and it was literally falling apart at the seams after three years. Second, the elastic in the knicker braces was loose, making my knickers fall below my waist, and the stretch jacket was bunching up. I looked like a joke on the strip. Paying $400 for a comfortable uniform that will last for years and look good seems like a wise investment. There is a huge mental component to this sport - and sewing seams every weekend and pulling up my knickers and pulling down my jacket after every touch doesn't help.
My mask however, a Santelli, hasn't given me much problems. It smells, but it smells like me. The bib folds up, but I fold it back down and we are good. It's rusty, but not where it matters. So when I am getting my masked checked this morning, I really wasn't interested watching the armourers bemoan the state of my mask, deride me and it and suggest I buy a new one. I like my mask, it works, and if you want me to buy a new one - fail it. Of course it passes the punch test (which is all I cared about), and I get my stamp and go on my way. I love the look of the new LP masks with the comfort disk and all - but if my current mask is rated for competition, why bother?