Getting started or, “What should I buy first”
 If you are just starting out, the most frequently asked question from a perspective recruit is, “what should I buy first?” The answer may sound surprising but, don’t buy anything until you have attended an event or two. The New River Rifles have enough loaner gear and uniform items to outfit a new recruit or, to loan to new members while they are building their impression. I.E, we will initially get you onto the field so you can decide if this hobby is something you want to pursue before you spend any money. This is the best way to proceed before you make a financial investment only to realize that reenacting doesn’t have the allure you thought it would.  
 Once you have made the commitment to pursue the hobby your next step is too ask for advice and conduct some basic research. Notice I didn’t say go out and buy anything yet. So, before you go out and spend your hard earned money;
1.      Review the uniform guidelines.
2.      Ask the unit authenticity committee or a member to mentor you on what items are appropriate for the unit’s impression.
3.      Review the approved vendors list and do enough research to allow you to make an informed purchase.
 After you have done the previous, the next step is to develop a mental picture of what you want your impression to look like and formulate a plan on how to achieve it. Having a plan and prioritizing the items you need to purchase in order to accomplish your goal is the best course of action in developing a convincing impression. This will also help you avoid wasting money on things you don’t need if they fall outside of your immediate goals.  
 Doing this will ultimately save you money and avoid the frustration of having to replace items that are either inappropriate or not approved. This hobby like most others can become expensive if you let it but, you do not have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to have a good impression. Though like most things in life, you get what you pay for. In the long run it makes more sense to spend the difference in price for an authentic item, than it is to buy an unauthentic (usually cheaper) one that you will eventually replace when you realize your folly. “Buy once, Cry once” should be your mantra when it comes to buying gear. Those who have been in the hobby for any length of time can confirm this advice.  
 Now to answer the $64 question. After you review the uniform guidelines for specific details, the following basic items are the first things to consider for purchase as part of your plan:
·         Shoes; spend the money on correctly made shoes and start wearing them at home to break them in. While we may have something to fit you in the loaner gear; we may not if you wear an odd size. Having correctly fitted and broken in shoes will contribute greatly to your comfort level.
·         Canteen; for sanitary reasons get your own canteen as soon as possible. No one wants to drink after someone else who may not have emptied and stored a loaner canteen correctly.
·         Mess gear; Plate or canteen half, cup, eating utensils. Same reasons as the canteen. Correctly made tin items are preferred as they are readily available and usually inexpensive when compared to the same items made from stainless steel. 
 This should get you started. Where to go next is dependent on your plan, finances and the advice you receive from your mentors. There are many paths to help you arrive at your ultimate destination. Just remember to ask questions, research the items and vendors you are considering and when in doubt, ask some more questions and you will have an impression to be proud of.
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