Millions of people have discovered the joys of metal detecting at this point. In fact, an estimated 1.6 million have made this pastime a regular part of their lives. Those who have are quick to point out that it’s not just a hobby; it’s an obsession. After you get hooked, you’ll find yourself chomping at the bit for the next outing. Wondering what lies beneath the ground you’re walking on will begin to consume you. You may even catch yourself involuntarily swinging your arm from side to side as you walk across parking lots, people’s yards, and other areas you haven’t yet dug.
A Brief Look Back in Time
Many people don’t realize this, but metal detectors have actually been around for more than 150 years now. Legend has it that the earliest known version of these devices was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, the same ingenious soul who gave us the telephone. According to certain sources, he created a machine to hopefully find a bullet that was lodged inside President Garfield. Of course, it didn’t take on the form so many people know and love today until much later.
Back then, Bell probably never imagined that a couple of the devices he invented would eventually give rise to entire ways of life. Thanks to his creativity and intellect, people can now spend endless hours roaming the land, listening for those telltale beeps, blips, and screams that indicate they’ve found, well, something hidden in the dirt. From there, they can call their friends to tell them about their finds, take pictures of those relics, and post them directly on social media for everyone to see. Companies like Prepared Bee offer metal detectors to help foster this incredible development.
For those of you who aren’t fully aware of what metal detecting entails, here’s a closer look. It essentially involves using a machine to locate metal objects buried in the ground. These devices emit electromagnetic fields through a coil. If those fields come into contact with metal objects, they sense a disturbance in the force. That prompts them to send a signal from the coil, up the shaft of the metal detector via a wire that connects to the machine’s control box.
In turn, that signal translates to a sound that sends adrenaline flowing through the user’s very core. It also creates a readout that gives the user certain bits of information. Those include roughly how deep the metal object is buried and what type of metal it seems to be made of. Some metal detectors are far more complex than others, so they can provide additional details, like whether the object in question may be a coin, a piece of jewelry, or a basic fragment of iron.
Metal detectorists, or treasure hunters if you will, turn on their machine, slip their arm into its armrest, and swing the machine back and forth over the ground. At the same time, they walk across the area they’re searching, ideally in a grid pattern, to discover what buried treasures await them. Once the machine gives off the sound they’re listening for, and potentially a corresponding positive readout on the control box, they dig in the specified location to see what they find.
On the surface, it may sound a bit mundane to many people. To those who love and live by this pastime, though, it provides an unbelievable thrill. The anticipation of possibly finding something interesting alone keeps them going back for more. Once you find your first unusual relic, you’re addicted, and the prospect of the next big find takes over your heart and mind.
Exploring the Benefits of Metal Detecting as a Hobby
Making metal detecting your hobby of choice offers an array of benefits. For one, it gets you outside where you can enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature while soaking up essential vitamin D from the sun. It keeps you active, too. Simply walking around armed with a metal detector gives you much-needed exercise. Digging up those finds helps to shape up your muscles as well. Those are only a few of the potential health effects of metal detecting, and its other advantages run far deeper.
Opportunities for Adventure
One of the greatest aspects of metal detecting is the opportunities for exploring it brings. You’ll find yourself in places you wouldn’t normally venture as the allure of what might be hiding in the ground draws you in. It has the power to transform seemingly boring, insignificant patches of land into potential treasure troves. Exciting possibilities are everywhere you look as long as buildings and asphalt aren’t in the way.
Metal detecting can be incredibly relaxing as well. Though there’s a certain amount of physical exertion involved, it’s also an extremely therapeutic experience. While wandering back and forth, swinging the metal detector from side to side, waiting for just the right beep, you can let your mind wander anywhere it wants. From mentally working out tough problems you’re facing in the real world to slipping idly into a fantasy world all your own, the possibilities are endless.
Furthermore, metal detecting allows you to unearth history one piece at a time. Sure, not everything you dig up is going to have monumental historical value. Most of your finds probably won’t have any major significance at all. Still, each piece has its own little history. Whether it’s an old bullet, a vintage toy car, or a mangled pocket knife, it has a story behind it. That’s history in its own right. You may never know what that story is, but you can certainly imagine, right?
Metal detecting also makes for countless learning experiences. If you dig up an item and don’t quite know what it is, you’re not going to just disregard it. No, it goes into your treasure pouch just like all the coins and jewelry you find. Then, at the first opportunity you get, you’re going to research it. Bit by bit, you’re going to delve deeper into what it is and what it was used for. That process may take time and effort, but that’s part of what makes it so exciting.
Becoming Part of a Community
Becoming part of a community all its own is another benefit of metal detecting. Numerous groups and communities have arisen from this hobby, and all their members are of the same mindset. You can connect with those communities and exchange metal detecting experiences. Other members of the community can clue you in on interesting places to dig, and you can do the same for them. If you can’t figure out what one of your finds is, post it to the community and ask them for guidance.
On top of that, this pastime can lead to social connections outside of the metal detecting community. Passersby who see what you’re doing often stop to ask questions and have conversations about it. They routinely ask, “Have you found anything interesting?” That, alone, can lead to hour-long conversations. You may even end up passing your passion along to others and making new friends.
Metal detecting as a family makes for wonderful bonding opportunities as well. As you spend time roaming and digging together, you never know where your conversations may lead. Children have been known to share insights into their ways of thinking while looking for buried treasure they’d never have opened up about otherwise. When exciting items are unearthed, sharing them with loved ones creates memories that last a lifetime. That’s something you can’t get from watching movies and playing board games together.
You’ll also build quite a bit of patience when metal detecting. Sometimes, those much-anticipated beeps are few and far between. Even then, not every beep is worth digging. Those that are don’t often yield the results you’re hoping for. For every fun find you unearth, you’ll dig up an entire trash bag full of bottle caps, nails, screws, wires, and can slaw. You have to dig the trash to find the treasure. Sometimes, even figuring out exactly where the item is that the metal detector swore was there is an exercise in futility.
Dirt Fishing for Fabulous Finds
Numerous pastimes are out there for people to enjoy, but metal detecting is like no other experience. It keeps you guessing and wondering, and it can make for endless hours of excitement and relaxation. Do you remember how much fun digging in the dirt was as a child? Dirt fishing gives you an excuse to get dirty as an adult, and you never know what you might find in the process.
Though spending an entire day digging up pull tabs, shredded cans, and other pieces of trash can get discouraging at times, all it takes is one small treasure to make it all worthwhile. Not every interesting find is going to have historical value or be worth a great deal of money. Still, all of them give you stories to tell, memories to look back on, and plenty of personal satisfaction. Keep in mind that treasure is often a matter of perspective. If it piques your interest or curiosity, it’s worth far more than money.