Old Problem – New Idea

Amazingly you get a pretty good feel for what’s going on simply by perusing social media, club websites and a few of the major forums. New detectors, accessories, equipment malfunctions, extraordinary finds and hunts tend to receive the most attention but one topic however is constant – finding places to detect. Slowly but surely we’re being chased out of what used to be routine areas like parks, athletic fields, fairgrounds, etc., and we’re facing permits along with fees and political scrutiny. If you’ve not had to deal with any of this consider yourself lucky.

This problem, these constraints are not new. We had similar issues in the 70’s and 80’s but nothing like today and it’s because of our increasing numbers. What used to be a very small hobby has turned into a competitive, dog-eat-dog pastime. A competition not only to find more than the other guy but to have more followers on social media/YouTube as well. They’re one and the same anymore.

Increasing participation is great for the manufacturers and it should be for the hobby but it’s doing just the opposite. Not every newcomer, or for that matter not every experienced detectorist, will follow the code of ethics and all it takes is a few “I don’t give a damn” diggers to ruin it for everyone else. Nothing new here…they’ll always be around.

So what’s the answer? Well I’ve given up believing that one of the supposed national organizations would grow up, be professional and be the group that every detectorist would want to support and be proud of. Just ain’t going to happen for a variety of reasons. The main one being that a lot of tekkies have this macho – I can fight my own battles – I ain’t giving away my hard earned money so someone can go on a vacation – problem. As a result we get Jim Bob dressed in camo, needing a shave, smelling like cow manure, trying to tell the city council what great people we are (yes I’m exaggerating but you get my point).

My take and my challenge at this point in time is for the manufacturers, distributors and larger dealers to pool their resources and create an alliance, union or league of treasure hunters or if that doesn’t sound good, a confederation of metal detecting hobbyists. They have names, addresses, a listening audience and in reality have a helluva lot more to lose than we do.

Realistically they won’t be able to fix every small town problem. What they can do however is develop public relation programs that showcase our pastime in the best possible way. They can offer promotional pamphlets, manuals, posters, letters for us to share locally or when roadblocks come up. They can create an organization that every detectorist wants and needs to belong to – a fraternity or union that carries some clout.

Now the NCMD membership card is not always a game changer but something like it would be nice to have here in the states

What do you think? What would it take for you to join? What would you like to see happen and more importantly, what say you manufacturers?



Dan Hughes 

When Dan Hughes did the recent Q & A session I asked if he’d mind my sharing his podcasts every now and then and he responded in the affirmative. Here are a few I chose at random….enjoy.

Getting Permission

Winter Time Tips


Detecting Parks

Detecting Yards

Collecting Coins

Coin Hunting

Gold Rings


Started to work on the book again…




Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “Old Problem – New Idea

  1. Yo Ricardo:
    You ain’t wrong mate. We have a few knuckle-draggers too, here in the UK too; mostly arkies. We’ve also got some smart cookies in our midst ; hobbyists who are more than equal in historical knowledge to many arkies – and Dean Crawford – an expert on Celtic coins is one such.

    Our hobby’s problem is that some come into it ignorant of what’s required of them. Thankfully they soon move on when they realise instant fortune ain’t around the corner. The same happens in angling, stamp collecting, or you name it, some people are in it for the wrong reasons. That’s human nature.

    Indeed, the same criteria applies to archaeology ; some are in for ethical and research ideology and others in for profit. That said, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing wrong, with private collecting.

    Therefore any ‘archaeologist’ who wants to keep his/her finds for private gain is ok with me.

    Detectorists are often portrayed as dim-witted know-nothings by a few pig-ignorant, archaeological shysters, some of whom were kicked out of university for failing to make the grade.

    This hobby, of ours, generally, has nowt to be ashamed of – considering the decades of archaeoolgcal felony.

    • Will just never understand why detectorists spend money like it’s going out of style, buying every little thing they “think” is going to make a difference but won’t spend a dollar to belong to an organization.

      • Yep, I don’t get it either. But when the going gets tough, the weak will start moaning and clamouring for a national organisation. Without such a body, authorities have no-one to negotiate or consult with regarding metal detecting matters.

        Apathy rules.

  2. john taylor

    the “logic” behind this attitude is inescapable!. they obviously believe in the power of the individual, and the “in union there is strength” argument flies in the face of every “rogue” hunter in the field, of which there are thousands. they don’t believe that an organization representing their “best interests” will make any difference as to WHY they are involved in the hobby in the first place. their ultimate objective is to find as much as they can, wherever they can,”knowing” they can do their “research”,find their sites, clean ’em out,WITHOUT belonging to any organization…”to thine ownself be true!” bill shakespeare circa: 1510. the attitude of “beating” the other guy to a site is stronger now than at any time since the hobby was founded. clubs?..organizations?..from a camaraderie perspective, belonging to an organization “packs a wallop” in presenting the hobby as a ‘first class” activity, however it is NOT the “real” reason why “most” are involved in it period…i’m just sayin’


    • “from a camaraderie perspective, belonging to an organization “packs a wallop” in presenting the hobby as a ‘first class” activity, however it is NOT the “real” reason why “most” are involved in it period”….

      J.T I was thinking about a “national” organization to represent the entire pastime, underwritten/overseen by the industry, not a local group.

  3. john taylor

    hi dick! yes i am aware of that! in my view, the “facts” still remain! tons of guys don’t believe being represented by “leaders of industry”,(so to speak) will change their attitudes, or outlook concerning their primary objective as stated above. a national organization does indeed pack tons of ‘clout”,(if you will)however the “real” test is attempting to get a whole lot of long experienced hunters to join, because,again, as stated above, they “get it done” by themselves ,and are generally, NOT interested in “sharing!”.these guys are never on the internet, or the ‘goofy” you tube..they are “never” interested in “calling attention” to themselves. or belonging to any club, or organization, no matter how “relevant” it may be.your proposal has undeniable ”merit” but, again,in my view, would be limited in effectiveness,due to the fact that just about everywhere in the public domain is “cooked”! in the final analysis, a national organization is really the “only” alternative to present the hobby in the ”best light!”..i’m just sayin’


  4. Tony

    Dick, good conversation topic; thanks for starting it up again. I feel this subject falls into the club leaders of the hobby. If they were to band together and then got the backing of their members – it would be a substantial group for sure. It’s been a long time since we heard of any problem areas that need attention/help to allow metal detecting, if they were stopped. Or do you know of any recently?

    • Tony nothing specific off the top of my head but I see the topic come up on Facebook and on forums here and there. I’m also aware that a lot of detectorists have to deal with permits and fees and I personally don’t understand why. What does the tekkie have to do to get a permit other than hand over $$? Does he or she have to show they can retrieve a target effectively, pass a written test? What, and where does that money go?

      I guess I’m odd man out on this….

      • You are certainly not the odd man out. Far from it.
        You’ve hit the nail on the head; why should Detectorists have to have a permit or even pay for one when other hobbyist don’t? Take a scenario where detectorists must have a permit, yet horse riders using the same beach – whose mounts crap all over the beach causing a public nuisance not to mention an health hazard – do not. It’s discriminatory and a tax on a section of the public.

        It’s in circumstances like this that a representative body, recognised at national level, steps in and negotiates. Some years ago, I wrote to a coastal Town Council and asked them why they had a ban on Detectorists using the beach. They replied with the usual archaeological propagandist tosh. It was obvious that the person signing the reply letter hadn’t got a clue. He’d simply phoned the council archaeologist asking about metal detectors and got a load of propagandist crap down the phone line. Result? A ban.

        I wrote back to the Town Clerk with a copy to the Council’s tourist manager, saying that the organisation I represented at the time, would be recommending, nationwide, that Detectorists and their friends and families boycott the town as a holiday destination for the reasons the council had given. The manure collided with the air-conditioning.

        At the prospect of potential damage to its holiday destination reputation and loss of tourist revenue the council apologetically relented.

      • John as I look at this post I realize that it’s a subject I’ve talked about before and it may be time for me to pack it in. Just don’t have the the info people are looking for or care about.

  5. john taylor

    Dick! you raise a very interesting, and valid point…in my view, and i am NOT alone in this “opinion” going into well kept parks ,and other public areas damaging turf with “overkill” shovels is tantamount to basically stating that it’s “yay for me” and f**k you!”..this “attitude” (so to speak) has had a detrimental effect on the hobby, effectively closing off many potentially rewarding sites, as well as being responsible for passing legislation banning the use of metal detectors.as you pointed out, and i agree, it has escalated the ongoing” costs of involvement in the hobby going forward. some people “have” to be more cognizant of what they are doing,so as to allow everyone to continue to enjoy the hobby without further “burdensome”,constricting legislation being implemented on a national, and local level..i’m just sayin’


  6. Tony

    Dick, as I said earlier you bring up great points and they should be discussed over and over until we get it. Thanks again for helping this crazy hobby!

  7. Bob

    Dick This would be a hard sell because the manufacturers are in for the money and the competition for their equipment, also the Detectorist that lives in a midwest state or along the West coast is not going back East (cost) to a organization annual hunt.

    You are right this needs brought up and someone has to be the pusher ( his time and money ) Dick don’t pack it in someone needs to keep bringing it up. You may not be the one to organize it but your knowledge of what is needed is a great value to help set it up. thanks to all you have done to for this past time.

    • Bob forget a hunt…

      I just think it would be nice to have a professional looking membership card that say’s I’m a member of the (example) NATIONAL Metal Detectorists/Manufacturers Union or Association. Something that “might” help me present myself in a better light.

      Another example –

      My local parks are about to be closed to detecting and I want to talk to the mayor/board/commissioners, and see if I can get them to change their mind. I call my NATIONAL organization and ask them to send me a few brochures that highlight all the “positive” things we do. Maybe even a slide show or video that does the same thing.

      Example 2–

      I want to participate in a local civic show and promote the pastime. I call the NATIONAL organization and ask them to send me, sell me or loan me a banner that I can use, along with promotional material to hand out. Perhaps even promotional give away item (buttons, pens, etc.).

      A national organization wouldn’t HAVE TO hold a hunt or yearly event though that could be part of it too. I would gladly pay for these services. JMO.

  8. john taylor

    i heartily “applaud” your examples as being conducive to more “positive” exposure for the hobby going forward, however,before you embark on this “momentous effort”,you need to satisfy a “debt” that will solidify your credibility as a proper spokesman for the “great unwashed” hobbyists.the “reverend howland” awaits with “breathless anticipation!”..i’m just sayin’


  9. john taylor

    i don’t have the “pedigree” to replace howland unfortunately!..i’m just sayin’

  10. Packrat

    Well the idea is a good one. At one time it had a good foundation with the FMDAC but lost support from the manufacturers and the members by not working with and communicating with them. I have had some success with State Parks rule changes for the good of the hobby but alot of the work needs to be done by locals with the support of a national group. A phone call or letter from a national organization to support a local group helps show large support. Manufacturers might show support if their involvement was minimal. More training and understanding the history of the hobby and respect for our pastime would help a lot

    • “More training and understanding the history of the hobby and respect for our pastime would help a lot…” Larry I don’t think anyone today has respect for the pastime. They’re just interested in beating out the next guy and having a YouTube channel. JMO.

    • john taylor

      this is absolutely correct!…”respect” should be unconditional!..that, and the “consideration”,and “feelings” of “other” participants in the hobby! i’m just sayin’


  11. Butch Holcombe

    A few years back we organized a “Think Tank” among several groups and detecting manufacturers. Lots of great ideas, but nobody wanted to pull the trigger. It is hard to bring the tribes together without a solid strong chief. But no one is willing to step up. To much “My, me, mine.”

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