What hobby should I try?
Metal detecting is worth it because it can give you exercise, increase your social circles meeting like minded people, stretch your brain with interesting historical research, allow you to contribute to our rich history and possibly change your future financially.
Is metal detecting worth it?……well I’m a bit biased as I absolutely love it! The bigger question is, why do we do anything? We go to work because we have to.
We need to keep a roof over our heads, we need to look after our families and if there’s enough time left over, indulge in things that make us happy.
This is what makes hobbies different, we don’t ‘have’ to do them, we have a choice. Whatever makes a hobby worthwhile is a completely subjective view.
By that, I mean that everyone will have a different view because we are all different, which is a good thing. For example, if your primary goal is to get super fit, you’re more likely to take up running or weight lifting.
In this example, the person would say that these pursuits would be more worthwhile than metal detecting.
However, if you wanted to get out into the fresh air, enjoy walking and have a healthy interest in historical things, you would definitely think that metal detecting is a more worthwhile pursuit.
You can read my article on metal detecting news and see what some people have found.
It must be remembered that as with most hobbies, there will be an initial outlay to purchase a detector and certain equipment. There is a dilemma that we all have when starting out.
Do I buy a cheap detector to see if I like it, or do I buy a more expensive detector as it’ll have more chance of finding that elusive coin?
This completely boils down to your circumstances but be wary of very cheap machines with big claims. The rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for.
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What are the benefits of metal detecting?
Physical benefits to metal detecting
One of the biggest benefits you can get from metal detecting is exercise. You would be absolutely amazed how much ground you will cover by walking for the best part of a day.
As well as the benefits of walking, there will be times when you’ll have to crouch or kneel down.
You would also be surprised how many times you could be doing this, especially if you’re in a field with lots of potential finds.
The exercise will have obvious heart benefits and the fresh air will also have lung benefits. There’s nothing better than getting out there when it’s bracing!
Finally, the task of digging small holes throughout the day will also contribute to the amount of exercise you’ll get. One of the clubs I was a former member of had a majority of pensioners in it.
The anticipation of a club dig on a Sunday morning was something they looked forward to immensely.
Social benefits to metal detecting
Metal detecting is also a great way to meet new, likeminded people. The clubs I have been a member of have had some of most welcoming people I’ve ever wished to meet.
Everyone always looked forward to meeting up once a week for a club dig and a natter. This has the benefit of really lifting your spirits and listening to what people have done during the week.
I cannot promote enough the benefits of joining a local club. This will give you a wealth of knowledge and also increase friendships.
Many clubs have a waiting list however as they may restrict numbers but get your name on a list. You can read my article and list of metal detecting clubs around the UK here.
When you do manage to join a club, there will most definitely be opportunities to contribute to your new club.
You could help out by finding new club sites, recording the finds and displaying them at the monthly meetings or be a team leader for a club dig.
Team leaders usually arrive at club digs slightly earlier than other attending club members to liaise with the land owner or farmer. This is to determine what fields are okay to search in and which may be out of bounds due to crops or livestock.
The farmer will not appreciate several detectorists knocking on his door Sunday morning. The team leader will be his single point of contact for the day.
It is also an opportunity to give the farmer a small gift like wine or flowers. We regularly did this on every club dig.
Educational benefits of metal detecting
Expanding your knowledge of history, geography and small finds is one of the most interesting benefits of metal detecting.
Education is never wasted and the benefits of continuously using your brain has obvious benefits, especially for your memory function.
You’ll get to know the reigns and dates of kings and queens, start to recognise coins and their types along with other interesting artefacts.
One of the most personally interesting aspects for me was finding strange artefacts and trying to determine what they were and what they were used for.
Sometimes it was more interesting than finding a coin!
Learning all about carrying out research on local land is also one of the most interesting parts of metal detecting. You can find out what’s been found locally, search old maps for ancient dwellings or roman villas.
You can even find old disused footpaths that have a wealth of finds waiting for you to show them daylight one again! In fact, I have an article on how to carry out metal detecting research here.
Finally, learning how your metal detector works is an education in itself, along with the physical benefits of having to concentrate on the many sounds your new machine is giving you.
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Financial benefits of metal detecting
Okay, potentially, there can be financial benefits to metal detecting.
We all live to dream about possibly finding that very rare coin or that roman hoard you see people on the news find with their first trip out with a cheap detector!
In reality, this rarely happens but it sometimes can. I had people in my clubs that had found hoards, rare coins and very rare Saxon brooch’s.
Most detectorists don’t use their hobby to sell their finds. They use metal detecting to advance the knowledge of history by recording their finds with a local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) linked to a local museum.
This could typically be finding an artefact or coin from a certain area or region of the UK, indicating that maybe an ancient civilisation populated that region which historians didn’t know about.
In the event of ever hitting the big one and finding a rare coin or hoard, it can indeed change your life but certain protocols need to be adhered to.
You need to learn the detecting codes of practice and the law regarding declaration of certain finds. Read my article related to metal detecting laws here.
You need to remember that any finds falling into this area that aren’t declared is against the law and subject to prosecution.
That being said, let’s not be too glum about this. Once a find has been declared, it will be assessed by a local coroner for value.
Typically it would be a museum that would be interested in it so they would pay the valuation and it would then get split 50/50 between you and the landowner.
This could be life changing or at least benefit you in the short term. I have another article on the definition of treasure here.
I personally haven’t been fortunate enough to find a hoard but I have found a very nice solid gold full spade Guinnea.
In this case, it didn’t qualify for declaration but I did the right thing and showed it to the farmer at the end of the detecting day.
After examining the heavy coin, he looked me in the eyes, gave it back to me and said, “….there go son, you keep it. You did all the hard work!”
I was screaming inside with joy and it goes to show that doing the right thing pays off! Someone famous who escapes me now once said…..”integrity is doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.”
Even though many detectorists hold a hard line on not selling any finds, I personally don’t have a problem with someone maybe finding a half decent coin and selling it to maybe fund getting a more advanced detector.
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Is metal detecting worth it?……undoubtably YES!
As we have discussed, you will get physical benefits from the all terrain walking, crouching and digging. This will have obvious heart, lung and muscular benefits. There will be social benefits also.
A new detectorist will get this from joining a club or attending rallies and meeting a likeminded friendly community. New friendships will be made and social meetings will increase which will give you a massive uplift.
Your brain will benefit from learning new things like history, geography, coinage and all about small artefacts along with their purpose.
Research will occupy your brain and time which will pay off by finding old disused buildings or footpaths on old maps.
Finally, metal detecting is one of the only hobbies that you can enjoy and potentially have it change your life with a once in a lifetime find. What other hobby can claim this?….it can be quite addictive!
My final thought to leave you with is a true story. I know it’s true because it happened to me!
Whilst on a caravan holiday several years ago in Cornwall, (in fact it was Pentewan Sands!), I had taken my metal detector to waste a few hours on the beach to see if I could find anything.
After an hour or so of digging up fizzy drink ring pulls and heading back for teatime, I heard a guy behind me running and out of breath.
Once he had caught his breath, he explained that when paddling with his daughter a few hours earlier with the tide up to waist, his gold wedding ring had slipped off his finger.
Panic stricken, he actually saw his ring plop into the water and spiral downwards into the sand.
The clever part, (so he thought) was that he stayed routed to the spot and triangulated his position with a particular rock on the shoreline, turned 90 degrees and lined up with a washing line pole on the camp site.
His plan was to go back out at low tide, return to same spot and try to find his wedding ring.
When I kindly explained to him about the tide shifting the sand and the chance of finding it again was really slim, I agreed to search the area for a little while to try to help him out.
We proceeded to mark out a large square in the wet sand where he thought he was stood.
I covered every inch of that square as he looked despondently at me. I finally said that it really was like looking for a needle in a haystack and that I really needed to head back now.
He thanked me for my efforts and I started to detect my way back down the beach homewards.
I left the square he had marked out and had taken about 4-5 strides outside the square when I had the biggest signal I had heard all day!
I turned, looked at him and said that this was the last hole was going to dig because I really needed to get back.
I plunged my shovel into the wet sand and turned it over into a heap. The damp sand parted and there it was! A gold wedding ring was perched on top glinting in the sunlight!
I remember his daughter screaming….”DAD!…..it’s your ring!!” I had never seen such a vision of elation in someones face. He thanked me from the bottom of his heart for finding his precious item and ran screaming to his wife!
Is metal detecting worth it?………yes!
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