Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Searching For the Perfect Epee

I have never had great luck with weapons. Especially epees. When I started to pick up epee, I was mainly a foil competitor, but epee was a small deal for adults at Minnesota Sword. This meant that if I picked up epee, I was guaranteed virtually private lessons for free, since there were only two or three adults learning epee with me. The first weapons I bought for epee competition actually came from eBay - an Uhlmann FIE from some lady who bought the best of the line for class, then realized she hated the sport; and an STM FIE from some guy who just got tired of playing. I bought these weapons at a huge discount three years ago, and they are the only ones that are still in my gig bag.

As for the others...
  • Leon Paul epees are nice, but the tips always fail shims for the first tournament. I learned this after buying two and hearing from others. The gutter blades protect the wire, but they vibrate like a tuning fork, and I had one snap in my hands.
  • BF Blade snapped in my hands at Birmingham. Totally inflexible.
  • Non Leon Paul tips are worthless... the screws pop out all the time, and there is nothing that pisses me off more as a director than some guy who brings a weapon to the strip without screws in.

I would buy only Uhlmann FIEs, but a) they are expensive as hell and b) the wires at the tip tend to corrode, causing the weapon to pass tests but be completely worthless in the bout. I never will forget fencing a VERY good B rated fencer in a pool bout. I had a chance to at least lose respectably 4-5 - but my weapon refused to go off, even after nailing the guy square in the chest. It passed a test by the director, so I had to resign myself to run away as much as possible.

I realize that expecting a piece of steel and electronics to work consistently under obvious duress is a little nuts - but if Panasonic can make a Toughbook laptop, I want a durable epee too.

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