With the approaching spring and then summer months the hobby of metal detecting to find hidden treasures tends to ramp up. The spectrum of those who engage in the hunt for treasures ranges from the “hobbyist” who participates for the pleasure of it, to the outright “detectorist”, as they have been called, dedicated to finding ancient artifacts worth thousands of dollars or more.

The answer to the question “is buying a metal detector worth it”, is a resounding “yes” if you are in it for the enjoyment, the thrill of the hunt, and for an afternoon of exploring in the hopes of finding something that makes the time you spend worth it. The answer is a resounding “no” if you are in it seeking to provide for a family or secure your retirement.

It’s true that there are some amazing stories out there of major finds, ranging from those in the millions of dollars for a trove of gold and silver artifacts discovered, and the finding of ancient Roman statues and artifacts, to Civil War artifacts and other lesser valuable, but none the less, treasures of all sorts. Those few lucky enough to find very valuable treasures are no doubt glad they invested the time to learn where there is a greater chance to find the type of treasures they are looking for, and the money to purchase a metal detector suited to the desired task. And frankly, good for them.

However, the odds are way too low to risk your family’s future or your own future on the hopes of a significant find that will sustain a quality way of life. On the other hand, the odds of having a truly enjoyable experience of spending a few hours for entertainment are very high if approached with the mindset that there are no expectations for finding a significant treasure, but rather any find of the unexpected is a fun and worthwhile experience.

The latter is my approach and the fun I have had with my children has been more than worth it. The various locations we have ventured to in hopes of finding the “unexpected” include:

  • City parks
  • Along nature trails
  • Beside rivers and streams
  • Around old dilapidated barns, sheds, and other structures
  • At rest stops
  • Campgrounds
  • Picnic areas
  • Other areas we just “felt” we might find something

Our financial investment is minimal, our training is self-taught, our hopes are that of other hobbyists seeking for a little fun and enjoyment. However, along with the somewhat “checked” expectations is the thought that maybe, just maybe, we stumble on something of real worth that would justify our time and effort. This is the element of the thrill of the hunt, the “possibility” of a good find, and the hope that seems to provide a little motivation to continue doing it despite the recurring realities.

On our adventures we have indeed found treasures. They include:

  • Rusty nails and cans
  • Pennies, nickels, dimes, and even a few quarters
  • A hearing aid battery – I think that is that it was for
  • Fishing gear
  • Tent stakes
  • Something I don’t really know what they are, but they caused the detector to “beep” and us to dig
  • Time spent with son and daughter exploring and engaged in the thrill of the hunt – priceless

When I talk to people and somehow the topic of hobbies comes up, they seem genuinely interested in knowing more about my/our adventures in metal detecting. I am more than happy to share my/our experiences and the “treasures” we have found, or maybe better described as those we made – memories of time together doing something that we both could do. And again, I would add we did it with a little bit of the “thrill of the hunt” spurring us on in our quest.

So, is buying a metal detector worth it?

I guess the answer to that lies with the individual and the purpose for his or her engaging in the experience. It is obvious that what is considered “enjoyable” for one is not for another. And, I feel obligated to add that as the children grew older, they tended to lose interest in spending the time in pursuit of something that usually did not reward instantly. I understand that, but I also feel that sometimes simply enjoying the ride should count for much. And of course, I recognize it could be a time and a season sort of thing.

If you want to talk the financial aspect of our trips and if that was worth it, of course it was money well spent. The cost was low, we spent under $100 at the time for a metal detector, and the gas for miles driven was also minimal.

So, in full disclosure, I answer the question of “is it worth it” this way. During the time when my children were young and the prospects of finding a treasure (almost anything counted at that age) was motivation enough to get us outdoors and on the hunt, YES, buying a metal detector was more than worth it and I would do it again. I can look back on those times with fond memory of time well spent and memories made.

Is it a worthwhile investment for you? Only you can answer that question. I wish you success in your decision making and more importantly in creating memories with your family.