Metal detecting is one of those sports that can be practiced day and night, rain or shine, summer or winter. It's one of the oldest sports on the planet. Digging for treasure is as old as the concept of valuables itself. All treasure has always been buried or sunk. That's just how treasure works. Digging for it blindly was the favorite past-time of everyone with half a brain for all past centuries. Now with the advent of the metal detector, treasure hunting flourished into the sport of the wise, fit, and frugal.
In his 2016 article, John Winter offers his take on it: ".. you need the speed of an Olympic sprinter and be able to jump a four foot high barbed wire fence whilst wearing green wellies .." he writes.
Overview of Metal Detecting
- Requires hours of slowly walking around
- Can be done on sand, soil, snow, or underwater
- Requires carrying 10 lbs of equipment
- Investment in equipment
- Frequent stops to dig
- Can be done alone or in groups
- Competition for finite objects
- Scoring is carried out in various forms of currency (fiat, gold, artifacts converted to fiat/gold)
Metal detecting requires more effort than half the activities typically labeled as "sports". In chess, players sit behind a table. In pool, players lean on tables and lay on them at times. In poker, players are expected to sit behind a table but most of the time they leisurely recline behind computer screens and drink beer. In darts, players lean against walls until their turn to throw a little arrow comes up. In NASCAR, drivers recline in seats and slightly move their hands and feet to control a vehicle. In sky diving, participants let gravity do all the work for the most part. Walking, wading or swimming around while holding a piece of equipment in one hand and digging with the other in comparison is physically challenging.
Equipment must be maintained, tuned, cleaned and adequately prepared for use. It's carried on the body to the tune of about 10 lbs. For differently abled athletes, there is no reason that equipment can't be attached to a support device or service animal.
Much like hockey and football, practice is done during extremely inconvenient hours and weather conditions, such as at 6 am when the tide is out after a storm. Transportation to dig sites is required. Metal detecting typically inconveniences and embarrasses relatives, especially where failure occurs, similar to most sports.
As with most sports, you typically lose a lot at first, learning valuable life lessons about frustration and humility. You also gain valuable non-verbal communication skills while greeting fellow participants who have their headphones on.
Digging up gold on the first day is unlikely. Just like it's unlikely that you'll score a goal the first time you play hockey. It's not out of the realm of possibility as freak accidents do occur, but chances are low to nil.
An experienced detector will need to know how to tune their equipment, select the best terrain and location, and use their equipment in a way that will actually have the potential to produce results.
Knowledge of history is required. Metal detecting isn't the only sport that uses history. All martial arts require their practitioners to memorize historical facts, figures, numbers and often traditions. They're simply part of the sport (unless you go to one of those commercial karate joints, then you're good as long as you pay your $150/month on time).
When one goes out to metal detect he doesn't go out to win or lose. He goes out to play the game. Sure he may come home with nothing but a beer cap, but the day when he finds a quarter may yet come. If one does not seek glory, he will never attain it.
More information about metal detecting can be found at AllAboutSports: Metal Detecting.
Metal detecting should be added as a category on Scorum. I think if "greyhounds" made it up there, which is essentially dogs running in a circle, metal detecting deserves it's place in the sun too.