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The definition of a detectorist

The definition of a detectorist

The definition of a detectorist

The concept of metal detecting must have led many people to draw strange conclusions about us. What caused us to begin this practice? We strain for words to describe it to others. Let me say that my early days were difficult and there was little satisfaction to keep me going except for my stubborn determination to overcome the problems.

Someone might ask how much money do you find with your detector? Posing the logical question of why are you doing this, in order to get rich? Someone else might ask how many really old things do you find? Assuming that you won’t get rich grubbing for pennies in the dirt. Some might ask if we have found any large treasures, while seeking in their own mind a reason for someone to pursue an unreasonable task. And while some of these folks may be simply trying to put us down and trying to get a laugh out of us at our expense I think many are just dumfounded with our reasons.

Reasons aside for now, all of us in our own way has found what almost everyone else is looking for. An elevated state of high awareness where we are outside and moving in a pleasant environment while fixed on our awareness we are able to appreciate the cool breeze and warm sun while we move in a timeless fashion from expectation to excitement. It is the best possible state in which to exist. No wonder it is difficult to explain to others. It is an internal experience that we have discovered by accident. It is impossible for someone to achieve and inconceivable to maintain even if they briefly experience it. Others could jump to a similar conclusion when they perceive something like coming home from the job and sitting down and turning on the television to see in front of you a praise service at church. Most folks think that this is either silly or downright stupid for folks to act like that but they are experiencing an internal state of communing with God and lastly of all concerned of your eyes on them. Imagine how they could explain what they are doing to the guy in the chair with the can of beer in his hand.

Sure we may talk about that coin we found or the hottest new detector on the market but we all know we are finding more than coins when we detect. It is very possible today to live your entire life and never truly understand anything of an experience like this. Ok, enough of the state of mind and down to simpler reasons we all can understand. How often today to folks just live in the car, workplace, and the box you call home? The pop phrase today is “get a life!” and is it any wonder? Most folks do not have a life except to keep up appearances and preserve the facade and repeat the process. How dreary!

I have found in my experiences that it is the simpler things in our life like looking for something good to happen and being excited about discovering something nice. I could repeat that process all my life because it is satisfying to the essence of man. We seem to get the most out of moments when we are going to receive an unknown prize and as delighted as children unwrapping the christmas presents when we discover it. Man is not too complex in nature just complex in function. Remember your happiest childhood experiences like playing hide and seek with the kids or looking for Easter eggs? Perhaps we are somewhat programmed by these experiences but we achieve something valuable when we learn to master them instead of having them master us. Have you ever listened to someone who spent his entire life chasing women who shows his lifestyle on his face and has never mastered the process of living a positive fulfilling life, a man who can’t understand himself? Hardly an example to follow as an adult.

I only have a moment while walking the beach when someone asks a question “what are you doing?” but I try to get across the idea that we very often find interesting or valuable items but we never know what we will find next. That is terribly inadequate but then how would you explain it?

I think if I were to list the activities that we experience it might look something like this:


  • We usually attend a club that is generally unlike many other clubs because everyone gets so much out of everyone else’s finds and experiences. It is a tightly knit social assembly that becomes an extended family and since we all share activities with each other at frequent hunts our competitive spirit sparks us to become much more than the couch potato’s you find everywhere else.
  • The nature of our detectors causes us to learn as much as we can about the technical properties and we prepare and plan for our next outing with great expectation.
  • I spend several mornings a week walking along the sea at sunup and I have found that this is not only a great place to experience the consciousness that I explained above but also to discover great finds and it is possible to fulfil the dreams of childhood by finding gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Many others walk through fields where wars were once fought and one cannot help but picture the struggle that occurred where you stand and the experience breaks into joy when you discover an artifact that someone once held here. As you turn it in your hand and rub away the soil of a century you briefly pass through time and stand with them in a much deeper experience than you will ever learn from a history book or museum. Experience is our foundation, and when someone gets a vicarious version from a book they missing life’s greatest experiences. Someone else may discover an old Spanish mine and walk for the first time in centuries into the past with the excitement that may never, never be achieved by the treadmill grind. It is the essence of adventure when you must shed the facade of others and find that place within yourself that you no longer need to play a part and pretend you are living but reach out for that unknown and risk the scorn of others to become more than you were.

There are adventures waiting all around us but many are blind to them. A detectorist has begun a new life where experience is much wider and richer and they have achieved that in themselves to stop being a follower and walk their own path. It is something like someone who lives only for spectator sports they may find some fringe benefit from watching but it is accepting second best because life was meant to be lived not observed. The detectorist however, may have only stepped onto that new path or they may have followed it for years but they know that it satisfies them in a way that nothing else does and provides a positive lifestyle, great exercise, great rewards (not all coins), and the company of other like minded folk who have found pleasure in the simple things. How can you give an answer to the question in one statement when the definition of a detectorist has more to do with the feelings and depth of experience than the appearance of this curious pursuit.





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