Is Recreational Metal Detecting on the Endangered List? ---Next Step
By: Lee Wiese
This article is a follow up to Is Recreational Metal Detecting on the
Endangered List? YES
Each year there are more direct or indirect barriers to recreational metal
detecting. The result is that these barriers make detecting more unlawful in
the U.S. There probably are no silver bullets or break though solutions to
change this environment; just hard work by those dedicated to preserving the
This article (Next Step) will be centered on Figure #1 which highlights the
Recreational Metal Detecting Community and the Metal Detecting Supply Chain.
Try to keep Figure #1 in your thoughts and refer to it from time to time as
you read this article.
A very important negative aspect of the hobby is that the Recreational Metal
Detecting Community is very fragmented. There are no cohesive alliances
between the four major sections of the metal detecting community (Figure
#1). Another important missing attribute is the lack of any outreach program
to bring detectorist, clubs and associations together.
There are a couple of cohesive detecting state associations but they are the
exception. Developing a state association in any state should be a very high
priority since they fill a communication vacuum and offer the best avenue to
a cohesive strong and supportive state metal detecting community.
Fragmentation is very apparent between area clubs and the individual
detectorist. Clubs generally have no contact with other clubs except though
an occasional metal detecting event. Most clubs have no outreach program to
get individual detectorist to join their club.
Individual detectorist feel that they do not need to be associated with any
organization since they may prefer to metal detect alone. Belonging to a
club or organization will not inhibit an individual detectorist desire to
metal detect alone but club participation does offers many advantages and
opens new opportunities for the detectorist.
Something to consider: the recreational metal detecting community may need
to take a more activist approach for preserving the hobby by holding planned
protest demonstrations to get their message across to public officials.
As this article progresses there will be an effort to address fragmentation,
the importance of using an outreach program and other ideas for the
Recreational Metal Detecting Community.
An aggressive national
association could play a major role in the metal detecting community by
providing some very important matter. One important item would be to develop
a national self-teaching metal detecting course for all detectorists to
take. The course should be comprehensive, provide a completion examination
and upon passing the examination, a certificate of accomplishment. The
course must be web based, downloaded by clubs and 100% supported by the
A national metal detecting association should represent all individuals,
clubs and state associations not just a few registered clubs or individuals.
A national association’s membership registration and entry fee process
should not be a barrier to providing support to any detectroist, club or
state association that needs help.
The national association must have a strong working relationship or
partnership with the U.S. based metal detector manufacturers and work with
them on providing a uniform comprehensive beginners detecting handbook. When
a detector is sold by any retailer this handbook would be part of the
detector package. The handbook should provide an insight into the hobbies
relationship to U.S. federal laws, the archaeology community, U.S. history,
the current metal detecting environment, target recovery and the
responsibilities of detectorist to the hobby.
Next, an aggressive national organization should take up one important
federal initiative for the detecting community. A suggestion for such an
issue was presented to me at a lunch meeting four years ago by a member of
the Mount Diablo Metal Detectors Club in Concord, California. His suggestion
was to develop an action plan and hold protest demonstrations to get
national seashore beaches, national lake beaches and adjacent waters open to
metal detecting. In most situations these beaches are used daily, are
disturbed lands and with few exceptions have no archaeology value. This
initiative would require work but may be very achievable in time.
A national association could provide an annual three day forum or symposium
where workshops would be held on the key subject matter of the time. Clubs
would be encouraged to provide reports on their community projects, saving
history projects and what impact their club may be having on laws in their
community. Specific clubs could sponsor a workshop discussion topic and all
workshops would be open to the forum participants. Workshop leaders would
provide a summary of the workshop results to the national association
participates as the symposium wraps up. An annual symposium would be a great
tool to help bridge the fragmentation gap and strengthen the metal detecting
The symposium should be well represented by detector manufactures,
distributors and retailers. The supply chain should provide discussion and
presentations on their view for the future of recreational metal detecting
and on their detector product. The supply chain members should be actively
involved in the symposium not just by-standers trying to sell product.
An aggressive national association should have one staff member who is
responsible for providing press releases on metal detecting issues and
events that can shape the public’s view of the hobby. A national association
needs to communicate frequently and regularly with the metal detecting
community as to what is happening in the hobby. Tools for this communication
effort should be a very active website, monthly news flashes, and the use of
social tools like Face book, etc.
The national association should sponsor a column in each of the major hobby
magazines. This column should be for press releases and to conduct a
national outreach program that highlights the benefits of belonging to metal
detecting clubs, state associations and a national association.
State Detecting Association.
States that have at
least five metal detecting clubs should consider establishing a state
association. The state organization can offer a centralized voice across the
state with legislators, retailers, clubs and the individual detectorist. The
state association is an important link between clubs and any national
association. A key component of a state association is overseeing the health
of the state’s metal detecting environment and to be a watch dog on
There is a severe lack of state metal detecting associations; these
associations could provide a sufficient advantage in making metal detecting
lawful. State association can be the cohesive glue that brings together
metal detecting clubs, detector retailers and the individual detectorist
into a well informed and active state metal detecting community. A well
informed metal detecting community can standup for their right to practice
the hobby vs. a fragmented community that in most cases will not even know
what is taking place in their state or in adjacent communities.
An organizational model for a state association should include:
- mission statement
- officers elected by the state’s club membership
- a statewide quarterly update meeting
- officers educated on state laws that directly and indirectly impact the
- officers to work with state representatives for obtaining friendly metal
- a well maintained email list and website with details on state, local laws
and detecting programs
- an outreach program to encourage state metal detector retailers to be part
of the association
- an outreach program to encourage metal detecting clubs to develop
community and saving history projects
- an outreach program and process to have retailers encourage individual
detectorist to join a club or the state association if no club exist in
- a method to provide public press releases concerning lost item returns,
community & saving history projects and other situations that provide a
positive hobby image
Another important attribute of a state metal detecting association is that
state legislators prefer to work with state constituents and not with a
national association or people from outside the state. State legislators
prefer to be working for their citizens’ needs rather than be influenced by
Metal detecting clubs are the front line of
the U.S. metal detecting community. These clubs are the pathway for
individual detectorist to gain hobby education, strengthen their detecting
skill, develop personnel relationships, participate in metal detecting
activities and to learn more about what their role can be to support the
There are many clubs across the U.S. with some states having more than ten
clubs. To locate a club for your area just search the web. There are a
number of websites that provide clubs listings with contact information. A
simple web search will yield the desired information.
Clubs need to have an active outreach program that communicates the clubs
existence and encourages individual detectorist to join. A higher number of
club members are the catalyst to providing more membership activities and
greater hobby involvement and support. An active outreach program should
include semi-monthly (twice a month) ads in the local news media, an updated
website, a handout for distribution at hobby retailers, club business card,
involvement in community recreational events and hobby discussions at senior
centers, schools, etc.
Clubs should have a mentor program for new members. A mentor can provide the
necessary education for a new member concerning what is required to
correctly and lawfully practice the hobby.
Clubs should be members of state associations or if no state association
exists the club should be a member of
a national association. It is imperative that the clubs require their
members to be a member of any association
that receives club support.
If no state association exists in the state, clubs should take a serious
look at establishing such an association. This type of initiative will
require numerous discussions with other state clubs to encourage their
participation in the project. This investigation should also include state
retailers since their opinion and participation is very important toward
making the final decision. A state association can provide a great deal of
hobby structure and can be a valuable tool in achieving friendly detecting
It is recommended that clubs set aside 5 - 10% of their annual income to
provide financial support for associations and to support various community
involvement and saving history projects.
Metal detecting clubs may need to consider holding protest demonstrations to
get their point across to public officials. To hold a demonstration requires
some pre-planning, determine what your message should be, selecting the
locations, time table of the demonstration and getting the word out. The
metal detecting community has been far too passive in standing up for their
right to detect in the U.S.
The individual detectorist is the heart beat
of Recreational Metal Detecting in the U.S. If detectorist are not educated
on all aspects of the hobby they can cause great harm to the hobby by
alienating public officials, private citizens and by practicing destructive
detecting recovery techniques and detecting unlawfully.
If you were to apply the 80/20 rule to detectorist you would probably find
that 20% of the detector owners are aware of a national organization and
belong to a local metal detecting club. A good 80% of the detector owners
probably have little knowledge or desire to have any active part of the
Recreational Metal Detecting infrastructure.
Why the 80/20 rule? The MDHTALK website has been on the internet for 14
months and each month during that period the viewer rate falls under the
80/20 rule. 80% of the site viewers spend less than five minutes on their
site visit; however, 20% of the viewers spend much more time with many
viewer visits greater than an hour. This data probably represents the
in-depth interest of the individual detectorist. Therefore clubs must be
very proactive in getting the individual detectorist’s attention. This is a
major reason a club outreach program can be a very valuable tool.
To recap; individual detectorists are the foundation of the hobby, the hobby
consumers, the hobby supporters and must continue to be there for the long
term. It is imperative that every effort be made to bring the individual
detectorist into the Recreational Metal Detecting Community.
The Metal Detector Supply Chain
consists of the manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Keep in
each level in the supply chain must make a profit or the supply chain will
cease to exist. Generally the metal
detector supply chains existence depends on the following criteria.
- First, there must be consumers interested in purchasing the manufacture’s
metal detecting products.
- Second, the manufacture’s metal detecting equipment must be competitive to
other manufacturers in technology, selectable features, ease of use,
ergonomics and price.
- Third, there must be a large pool of individual detectorist that can be
attracted to the manufacture’s product.
- Fourth, once an individual detectorist purchases a detector there must be
lands (public and private) available for using the detector equipment.
- Fifth, the supply chain can be negatively affected as laws and regulations
for metal detecting become more defined, gain greater acceptances by public
officials and achieve greater enforcement recognition.
A national metal detecting association can be of benefit to the various
manufactures by providing material for an exceptional beginner’s handbook to
educate the purchaser. This handbook should cover all aspects of the hobby
so that a new detectorist can become a responsible detectorist and detect in
a lawful manner. This material should be consistently applied by all
manufactures so that all individual detectorists get the same background and
support material about the hobby. A good detectorist handbook will help
solve some of the misinformation about the hobby and be a great outreach
Detector distributors and retailers are very depended on the individual
detectorist or there business model will fail. Just to stay in business
distributors and retailers require a certain volume of detector sales to
cover their overhead. Anything that has a negative impact on their business
model is something to fear. The distributors and retailers have a vested
interest in seeing that recreational metal detecting remains lawful since
their livelihood depends upon volume detector sales.
Retailers are in a great position to provide hobby support since they make
first contact with all metal detectorists. Retailers could provide a great
deal of local information to new detectorist concerning clubs, regulations
and what the detectorist’s responsibilities should be to the Recreational
Metal Detecting Community.
Law and Regulations.
The laws and regulations are the barriers to practicing
recreational metal detecting in the U.S. and in the future regulations will
probably have an
even greater hobby impact. Greater enforcement of existing
laws and the implementation of new regional regulations will directly impact
the number of individual detectorist entering the hobby. As metal detecting
becomes unlawful in more communities the result will be the elimination of
available detecting land and less people interested in the hobby.
If there are fewer individuals metal detecting the demand for new detectors
will decrease accordingly. This will directly impact the detector supply
chain from the manufacture to the retailer. By viewing Figure #1 at the
beginning of the article you can see that laws and regulations can greatly
affect the hobby. Less laws or more friendly laws will increase the number
of detectorists and in turn will place a greater demand for new detectors.
Likewise an increase in regulations or greater enforcement of existing
regulations will decrease the number of detectorist, and the demand for new
detectors. Therefore the law of supply and demand in Figure #2 comes into
play where the individual detectorist becomes the DEMAND and detector
equipment the SUPPLY. View Figure #2 to see the relationship.
Let’s face it Recreational Metal Detecting is a hobby not a
profession like archaeology. Since metal detecting is a hobby the
individuals involved in the hobby must become more responsible, volunteer
and dedicate their time and skills for hobby support. In order for the hobby
to gain greater acceptance there must be groups of individuals who will
provide leadership, volunteer and develop a cohesive program so that the
hobby can survive beyond the next twenty-five years.
The following list of actions should be considered. There probably are other
actions that can be taken but this short list can be a starting point. The
actions are listed in order of priority and importance.
1) A state metal detecting association is the best approach to bring the
metal detecting community together in any state.
2) Outreach programs to bring individual detectorist into the metal
detecting community should be in place at all detecting clubs and
3) Metal detecting clubs need to consider holding protest demonstrations to
get their point across with public officials.
4) A national association should develop metal detecting standardization
material for a handbook and for an online metal detecting course.
5) The detector supply chain should play a greater role in helping to
preserve, educate and support metal detecting associations and clubs.
6) An initiative at the national association level could be the catalyst
needed to get detectorist behind a common cause and to reduce the metal
detecting community fragmentation. (i.e.: to develop an action plan to get
national seashore beaches, national lake beaches and adjacent waters open to
metal detecting in the U.S.)
This is one person’s opinion. A group of individuals with strong desires to
strengthen the metal detecting community will might with better ideas.
However taking these six steps would do much in bring the metal detecting
community together and make the detecting community a strong positive force
for the hobby. (see Figure #1)
Download This Article