In 2016 or thereabouts Garrett started advertising ‘treasure hunting’ as a sport. They still are. At the time this fact dismayed many English detectorists who regarded their metal detecting as a hobby. What do YOU think?
It’s a well known fact that to take part in any sport you need skill and ability. Here’s just a few examples. They are not all mine, but have been inspired by, borrowed, and adapted, by an entertaining piece I once read by Maurice Darling in an old detecting magazine.
Snooker – using a straight stick to knock a coloured ball into a hole, even after smoking endless cigarettes and consuming copious amounts of beer during the game. (It used to be like that!) You gain points by causing your opponent to foul.
Pool – same as snooker, except that you use a smaller stick and fewer balls. Beer is readily at hand. I had a friend who was an expert at this game of pocket billiards – as the game is also known in America.
Darts – darts has long been a bone of contention in the debate around what constitutes a sport, with some seeing it as the ultimate pub game.
Rugby – rugby is a free-flowing game that features a combination of strength, speed and strategy to move a ball into the opponents’ territory. Rugby is a full-contact sport. Be prepared to donate a pint of blood every two weeks.
Fishing – the challenge here is to find and catch a fish. Having accomplished that, you then throw the critter back. Actually, the only skill you need here is to stay awake and not fall in the water.
Football – you attempt to put a ball into the back of the other team’s net. If you do this then the only other skill you need is to be able to run the length of the pitch and give all your team mates a kiss after skidding along on both knees. Practice pulling your shirt over your head as you fall to the ground.
Detectorists are capable of all the sports above with few problems, but wielding and understanding a metal detector is far more demanding.
You need to be able to laugh at yourself and have a sense of humour. Take a good look in the mirror before your next outing and tell me what you see. The sense of humour comes in when you have just dug a signal, made a hole five feet deep and moved enough soil to fill a quarry, only to be rewarded with a scrap of silver paper.
Next, you need the speed of an Olympic sprinter and be able to jump a four foot high barbed wire fence whilst wearing green wellies. You might think this is impossible, but when you are being pursued by a prime Herefordshire bull with his head down and smoke coming from his nostrils, you will find it quite easy.
Have the willpower! Picture the scene. January. Cold. Early in the morning. Sleet lashing at the window; the bed is warm and your partner looks like a page three girl. Despite the temptation, you drag yourself out of bed, pull on you clothes – still damp from the last time – and off you go!
Be modest – resist the urge to dance and scream like a banshee when you unearth a hammered coin. This only infuriates others when all they have is a pouch full of lead and ring pulls.
Always be generous with your congratulations when a club member next to you makes a good find. This can be very hard when he keeps holding them up, laughing at you and asking if you’ve found any good ring pulls lately. Resist the urge to smash his detector over his head. Notice I referred to ‘his’ machine.
A detectorist must be an optimist. You’ve just spent a day which has yielded nothing, but you return to the same site again and again because things, ‘might be better’.
And lastly, another important gift is the ability to tell a white lie without a blush or guilt showing on your face. You have just come home with the very latest top of the range, state of the art piece of electronic magic that will do just about everything except take the dog for a walk. Your nearest and dearest asks how much it was, but you pretend not to hear. When she asks a second time (this is where the straight face comes in) you answer is that it was about a £100. But now there is a word of warning. Women have something called intuition and its odds that you will be out of luck – this is when you bring your Olympic sprinter mode into play – and get out of the door quick!
So, as we can all see, detectorists need many skills and abilities. They must also be waterproof, thick-skinned, fit and slightly crackers. I’m sure that you can add to these qualities. Are we sports people or hobbyists? Make up your own mind … I don’t know what to think!
This has been a ‘resurrectionist’ production by the Burke with no Hare, John Winter