Maybe it’s Time to Backtrack?

About the only thing that has changed over the 35 or so years of my involvement in this pastime is the internet….an extemely valuable learning tool, and a  very good method of communication. Something that should have pushed metal detecting into the limelight, and something that should have helped promote it’s values.   As of now only the latter is lacking…

The internet has produced websites, blogs, forums and it has also helped create a divide amongst our ranks. It’s been a vehicle for anyone and everyone to  share their opinions, their views, their biases, their off-the-wall comments, all  without much fear of reprisal. Easy to say things there, and not have to  suffer any consequences, and yes I am guilty of this as well.

What amazes me is that the internet, and all of it’s parts has not helped us to form a more perfect union. If anything it has hindered  that effort. In the 80’s, while trying to get the FMDAC going,  I had to rely on the United States Postal Service. All my communications were type written,  sometimes copied, but always mailed.  Just the way it was….

Amazingly, the responses I received were always enthusiastic, contagious and it was easy to bring everyone into the fold. Today, you would  think it would be even easier, but apparently it is not. In fact it seems to be much harder. No matter what you post on the internet, someone is out there to shoot it down (and yes I sometimes do that). Seems the more we advance, the more we shoot ourselves in the foot.

I will continue to preach the values of uniting, and I am quite aware that the internet has negatively affected that goal. As long as we have this type of back and forth,  no one will ever have to stand before the court of common sense or offer practical ideas and solutions.

Maybe we need to backtrack and do it the old fashioned way, sitting at a table, face to face, eye to eye. Not sure what the answer is but for all the great tools we  have at our disposal, we seem to be all over the place, with no direction, and no definitive plan. Correct me if I am wrong….



John Howland is a member of the South Jersey Metal Detecting Club, despite living in the UK, and often offers up an article or two for their newsletter. In the most recent issue is the one he shared here in September of 2010, and I thought it was worthy of a repeat. To read his take on stone walls click on the Malamute Saloon link above and scroll down to today’s date.

OOPS! In the process of putting up this article, quite a few of his earlier articles became scramled.  Be patient I am working hard on correcting this…



Suddenly getting a lot of visitors from Australia? Not sure why, but if you happen to be one of them,  I hope you will find time  to contribute a response or comment sometime.  Appreciate your visits….



Thanks again to Eddy Current for sharing the following article. Love it…. My kind of way to do things….

 A Wedding proposal in a Muddy Field



Filed under Metal Detecting

20 responses to “Maybe it’s Time to Backtrack?

  1. We think the internet has been a mixed blessing for uniting those within the hobby. The ease with which anyone can post something has led to not only lots of shared correct information, but incorrect info and clashes of egos. Information overload is not always a good thing. We are in the same boat as Dick. We hate what we see happening with a lack of unity, but have no suggestions beyond asking that all egos and wrong information be dropped for the good of the hobby. When one detecting website battles another detecting website (and it happens all the time) how can we expect the hobby to band together as one?The beauty of the internet is that anyone can use it….The danger of the internet is that anyone can use it…

  2. bill from lachine

    Certainly some valid points for sure….I know I tend to do my bit to promote/protect the hobby as well as many other responsible hobbyists.

    But unfortunately it’s usually a one off situation and the next time a situation worthy of defending our rights as a community comes up….we start off at ground zero all over again.

    Regards + HH

    • Unfortunately you are correct Bill….. What bothers me about the various national organizations here in the US is that they get up a full head of steam, get everyone excited, then unexpectedly disappear in the sunset….

      • Ah, the Reverend William of Lachine, always has his finger on the pulse. But I have to say, and talking of unexpected disapperances, the UK’s NCMD is known amongst the cynical commumity as the ‘Eternal Flames’, ‘cos they never go out!

  3. The internet is not a network of computers, it’s a network of living, breathing people. Google hangouts are the simplest tool ever for getting face to face without driving or flying. It just takes the most basic computer setup. I know non-profits running meetings exclusively this way. So getting a group of people together is more a matter of all of them getting past a small learning curve, and then it’s all upside and efficiency. You still need groups defined, agendas, call to order, action items and people taking on responsibilities just like a real-world meeting. Entire companies are run this way and it’s very much like being in person. Blogs and forums are also useful, but not in organized fashion you’re describing. A meeting on a hangout implies a commitment. A post in a blog is not.

    IMO if the computer setup doesn’t work, then get a local geek to come help out for an hour and be done with it. It’s no different than having a working car to get to a physical meeting.

  4. Dave McCarthy

    Before I returned to this hobby 4 years ago, I had never met such a stubborn, sometimes cantankerous, devoted and die-hard group of people in my life. We should channel that into something positive for all of us, instead of bickering with each other about stolen hunting spots, or whether or not someone’s find was really “found” .. childish really. You will always have a certain percentage that don’t care, but I know in my heart there are more of us that do ..

    • I’d like to agree with you Dave, but having been part of the FMDAC in the past I can tell you there are a lot of “loners” and there are a lot of “bitchers” out there.

      I cannot begin to tell you how many “what am I getting for my $1 dues?” letters I used to get. They think nothing of spending $2,500 on a detector, $100 on a scand scoop, $100 for headphones, $100 for a camera to put on their head, and scream bloody murder about $5 to support the cause.

      Try suggesting the idea of a national organization on any of the forums…you will be surprised at the negativity out there.

      Thanks for taking the time to respond Dave. I appreciate it.

  5. I find myself “backtracking” or “restructuring” right now with my own effort. The motivation for those online today that I was relying upon for interdependent and joint success of those joining me just could not compensate for human nature in the face of bumps in the road and growing fast enough to beat out competition. So the only way I could effectively move the ball forward is to share my ideas and goals in such detail that those motivated to beat me to the punch would possibly, if their motivation is enough, obtain the goals I set forth and think they are doing me in. It still obtains my goals, I just don’t get to be involved but instead motivate them by playing the WWF bad guy. Not a fun role, but rewarding and fun if done with full temerity.

    What I am trying to illustrate is that “unification” is not the only way to skin a cat. I think you know this all too well by trying to agitate some movement between the 3 parasitic organizations that are out there creating the log jam that we know today.

    The more I think about what we are facing, I think the approach has to be one that utilizes the full volume of Art of War by Sun Tzu, and not just the British Redcoat version of squaring off and hurdling musket balls at each other. Think instead strategy that motivates desperate individual motivations to align with a common goal without micromanaging tactics and conclusions, but relying on the fact that the cream will always rise to the top, and being OK with the fact that it may not be the spotlight in the end that embraces us, but instead gifted to those that we motivated to obtain it.

    The only draw back to this strategy is our own personal ambition we must hold in check, basking behind the scenes in forwarding the momentum to others who may revel in surpassing us, and revealing their own frailty of character. In the end, it really does not matter who finishes first as long as we pass this ability to hunt relic and treasure as a gift onto the next generation. If we can do that as so many have entrusted and gifted to us, then we will have lived a life worth living, and wars worth being fought.

    • Chad, I must say I love your responses. While I want to see unification, I too do not want us to “give in” to those that seek to destroy our pastime. I hate the begging and groveling that goes on today with many who “dream” of working along side an archaeologist. Bridging that gap will not happen in my lifetime, and doubt it ever will. JMO.

      • Thanks, we both know Archaeology is a dead science right now until it reorganizes into something actually useful to those they serve, but I agree, they simply can not change their own institution. Instead there must be a threat their power can not dissuade and log jam up, before actual progress of revolutionizing their structure will take place. Yet, their structure and their institutional failures are not my concern. My concern is to win the war and freedom to dig up history without being hog tied by their silliness, or shot by sentinels that don’t give me the common courtesy of warning shot.

  6. Most definitely, meeting people face to face is the key to getting a sense of community. I know I would be more apt to act on behalf of one of the hunters I’ve met and hunted with than with people in the Internet whom I’ve only known through their opinions (not always about metal detecting).

  7. Robbie

    Could this work for metal detecting too??

    In 2010 a bunch of disc golf (Frisbee) throwers got together with The Houston Flying Disc Society and submitted a petition to Harris County for a better area to throw Frisbees. A small area had been set up in T.C. Jester Park ( a 100 acre Houston city park) in 1997, but was determined by local Frisbee throwers to be not sufficient. They collected over $3000 and got with the city, and expansion and modifications were done to the park to accommodate an improved Disc Golf area there.
    From an article in a local small weekly newspaper, The Leader, it states “ Things like dog parks and disc golf courses are a great way to create niches for local residents and their particular interests and those type of additions are vital because they help define the personality of our community.”
    If Frisbee throwers, league baseball players, joggers, and dog owners can get areas open to them….then metal detectorists should be able to have the same availability to use park areas……..just saying…………

    • Robbie, we should have the same availability to parks and public lands, but unfortunately we “dig” holes, and that will always be the argument. And as soon as an archaeologist sees that we are being given permission to detect anywhere he or she will be on top of it in a hurry. Then we face the “looter”, “pot robber” BS. JMO.

      • pocketspill

        I think this comes down to classification. Right now, the classification is binary. Either you are allowed, or the site is historic and off limits to detecting/digging. I propose that sites have classifications… and I’ll also provide my argument to legislators:

        1. Sensitive sites, off limits to detecting unless involved in arch. team. Sites with pre-historic or no documentation.
        2. Semi-sensitive sites, permit-holder detecting only, full disclosure and find surrender compulsory. Credit for find stays with artifact. Find photographs provided to detectorist for their own digital collection. Coins excluded and kept by detectorist after date, depth recorded. Find logs required for each hunt and digital plotting of location. Violations result in loss of permit.
        3. Documented sites, permit-holder detecting with guest, voluntary disclosure and surrender, credit stays with finds in collection. Voluntary reporting of find clusters. Voluntary find photos with scale provided to archaeology authority. Find logs voluntary. Grave/burial/body locations must be provided. Violations result in loss of permit.
        4. Full access sites, no permit needed. Voluntary reporting.

        #2-4 allow detecting, without being part of a formal dig. The way we all enjoy it. The argument to legislators is that we offer more good than harm in these situations, and we have a tether of cooperation with the archaeologists. Archaeologists still keep their primary dig targets in #1, but the millions of acres of documented land off-limits now would become available. Politics are about compromise.

        Most of #2-3 would be done via the web… a database available online and via smartphone.

  8. Scott, you have given all this a lot of thought. You need to get involved. I will be upfront with you however and say that I find all that very complicated, and who determines areas, the categories, etc…. ? Too many grey areas….

    I think once you get into all those classifications, permits here and there, you will find the average detectorist packing it in.

  9. Robbie

    I have seen more damage to park areas by other activities than metal detecting has done—even if some holes have been left open. Piles of dog crap–some very huge—in areas where children play, all types of trash items thrown all over recreational areas, harmful metal items found while detecting, the shoes of ball players creating holes in grass areas and not being covered back up by the players, JV’s overturning park trash containers park tables and benches, alchohol drinkers leaving their bottles….but all these people continueally are allowed to use park areas while in some recreational areas we are the criminals because we retreive items such as coins, jewelry and lost forgotton relic items front the ground? Even frisbee throwers ( a recognized sport???) can get space in park areas open to them, If frisbee throwers, dog walkers, joggers and skateboarders can band together, contact city and county parks departments and get locations open for them in park areas, metal detectorists should be allowed the same priviledges……don’t you think???

  10. Robbie I do think! Unfortunately that is not the case, and it will take various groups, or at least a “large number of people”, to get the attention of those who make the rules and regulations.

    It will always be ONE person to spearhead the effort, and I can tell you from experience that burnout comes on fast. That is why I thiink we need one organization that represents the thousands of detector users out there.

    Don’t misunderstand, the issues you brought up will still have to fought on the local level, but you will at least have the backing of thousands, and when thousands are added to your call to arms it can make a difference. JMO.

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