UK Metal Detecting Clubs List here -> Metal Detecting Clubs
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So You Want to Start A Club.
A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Running a Metal Detecting Club.
In 2 Parts.
So You Want To Start a Club.
A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Running a Metal Detecting Club.
To many detectorists being in a club is one of the great benefits of our hobby. Making new friends by meeting with others who share our passion, a sharing of knowledge through experience and talks given by guests, an enjoyable evening out, the chance to get together on club digs... the list could go on indefinitely.
However for many people these opportunities are unavailable for a variety of reasons. Maybe your work-life makes it difficult, or nearby clubs are full and have waiting lists, or it could be that there isn’t a club in your area.
The club that I belong to came about through comments made by people on a well known internet detecting forum. Quite a few people were saying how difficult it was to get into clubs in the Kent area as they all had waiting lists, or were too far away. My answer to these comments was that ‘If you can’t join a club form one yourself.’ Most people who replied to this said that they wouldn’t know where to begin, so after a fair bit of persuasion I undertook the task of forming another new club. With that in mind I thought that it would be a good idea to give others some knowledge of the things that you need to know if you plan on starting a club.
I have been detecting now for 34 years and in this time I have been a member of several clubs, three of which I started through the reasons given above... so how do you start a club?
Where Do You Begin?
Your first task is to gather in as many potential new members as you can. I placed a new ‘thread’ on the forum to let people know of my intention to form a new club. If you are a member of such a forum you could do the same. You can also send e-mails to detecting magazines asking them to place a small clip with your details so that anyone who is interested can contact you. It’s also worthwhile asking your local paper if they would put a clip in of a new club forming, and most libraries have a ‘Local Clubs’ board where you could put up a notice.
A Regular Venue.
When you have enough people interested you will need to find somewhere to get together for an initial meeting. This will have to be somewhere that is within a reasonable distance of club members, remember, it will have to be large enough to hold a club meeting and not cause inconvenience to other users. Some clubs meet very successfully in pubs but personally I’ve never liked this idea as it can be too noisy and a distraction unless they have a separate room you can use. Our first meeting had this problem as I chose a very popular American Diner that was easy to find and to which the owner was agreeable, however it was very difficult on the ‘quiet’ night that we met with a constant stream of customers and loud Rock‘n’Roll playing from a jukebox so it was impossible to be heard. Because of this unforeseen problem I quickly found another venue for the next meeting.
Finding somewhere to meet can be a big problem but there are usually plenty of places that you can use, usually for a price. Depending on the type of area that you live in, community or village halls are good meeting places or if you live in a town, sports and social clubs may be available. I gained access to our meeting place by joining a social club and then negotiating a reasonable price for the use of a function room for a monthly three hour meeting. This need not be expensive. Although I had to pay the initial hire of the room from my own pocket I claimed it back once membership fees were established....the hire fee can then be paid by a ‘Sub’ of £1 per member per meeting as is done in Scout/Guide groups.
Most venues will want a regular time/ day to allow for other bookings so choose a day when the majority can make it...as an example our meeting is at 7.30pm on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, that way both the venue and the club members know where they stand.
Forming a Committee.
So now you have a group of members and somewhere to meet. As a club it will be necessary to form a committee so that decisions can be made on behalf of the members and to carry out the tasks that enable a club to run smoothly. Although it could be, (and no doubt has been) done by one person, it would hardly be democratic and a lot of hard work, so forming a committee of elected officers is the best way forward.
To run a club successfully you should have at the least a minimum of 8 committee members. These should be:
Chairman. To lead the club meetings and act as a spokesperson for the club.
Vice-Chairman. To act as a deputy for the chair when necessary and other tasks as required.
Secretary. To take the minutes and cover all secretarial tasks as required.
Treasurer. To be responsible for all club funds and book-keeping.
Public Relations Officer. To promote the club in the media and elsewhere.
3 Other Nominated Members. To give balance from the members viewpoint.
Club Rules a Constitution and a Name.
Once a committee has been elected by the members the next task will be to set up some club rules and a ‘Constitution’. This is actually not as hard as it sounds....If you have access to the internet many detecting clubs have websites which you can browse through and many of them have their rules and constitution available to read for potential members. By browsing these sites you can cobble together your own set of rules using theirs as examples, picking out the bits you think apply to your club. Once this has been done the rules and constitution can be put to your members. Any things that need changing can then be amended and once agreed passed as ‘a motion carried’.
The next step is to agree on a club name if you haven’t already done so. Again the name will have to be voted on and agreed by the members.
How do you decide on how much to charge? Again you could look at other clubs membership fees. I looked at various club websites and spoke to people in other clubs and the average seemed to be between eighteen to twenty two pounds, but that included insurance. Based on this we made our membership ten pounds plus the cost of insurance. We also decided to give a concession of two pounds to retired/ disabled members and to offer joint membership, (two people) at fifteen pounds.
It is essential to have public liability insurance whether as a club or as an individual as accidents can and do happen. You can get this insurance from most brokers but the quotes can be expensive. A much easier way to get insurance cover is by joining either the N.C.M.D or the F.I.D. For clubs N.C.M.D membership is the probably the better option. At the moment we ask our club members to join as individuals as we are a new club, however club membership should be arranged at the earliest opportunity as there are other benefits available. Both the N.C.M.D and the F.I.D have advertisements in this magazine giving contact information.
All club finances need to be looked after by the treasurer. It is essential to keep records of all monies within the club and a ledger of some sort should be kept with space to record cash in and cash out. Receipts should always be obtained when making any purchases or when taking membership fees etc. Money raised from raffles should be checked against the numbers of tickets sold each month. Although it is a good idea to keep a cash box for club meetings and petty cash a bank account will be essential. Not all banks cater for club accounts however so you may have to hunt around to find one that does. A cheque account will be needed with at least two signatories for security. A statement of the club’s funds should be available at the AGM.
Club Membership Card.
A club membership card of some kind will have to be designed and made up with a club badge. This can be done easily enough using free downloadable clipart. I designed and made up some card badges, however we are lucky to have a member whose father works for a company that makes ‘credit card’ type badges and he very kindly makes up plastic club badges as we need them for free, these are examples (Fig.1.)
These are just the first steps in forming a new club. In the next part of this article I will continue with some of the other things that you need to consider if your club is to be a success.
In the first part of this article I began to outline the things that you will need to do if you are considering starting a new club and running it successfully. It is not until you begin the task that you realise just how much organisation is involved. This is not meant to deter you but I would suggest that you involve your new committee in the process as much as possible as it will help you to get to know each other better and to bond you together as a team.
There will obviously be a need for record keeping and accounting if you are to run things properly. At the start I purchased some items myself and gifted them to the club. Some of the equipment used is also my own but once you have sufficient club funds to purchase items it becomes a little easier!
You would be amazed at the amount of paperwork you can get through when starting and running a club. You will also need some basic office equipment as well. To give an idea I have put together a list:
Attendance Register/Signing in book.
Copies of Rules.
Copies of Constitution.
Find of the Month Slips.
Lockable cash box.
Stapler and staples.
Selection of pens.
Rather than go to an office suppliers it can be cheaper to look around at some of the ‘Pound- shops’ that seem to be popping up everywhere. I obtained many of the items listed above from a pound-shop for a total outlay of less than ten pounds.
Always ensure that you make an agenda for each meeting, that way you can be sure that all of the important topics are covered. It doesn’t take long to phone or e-mail the committee members to check if they have things to add and by itemising things you can get the ‘chat’ bit of the meeting out of the way with the minimum of fuss...although saying that I do tend to ramble on a bit myself!
It is essential to have some method of recording finds within the club, particularly if you intend having a ‘Find of the Month’ competition. You could just record the items in a book but it is much better to photograph the finds too.
I currently take all of the clubs finds photo’s using my own camera setup. It is best to use a good quality camera with a macro or super-macro facility if you can. Many ‘Bridge’ cameras like my own Olympus have this facility. (Fig.2.)
I have made a stand for the camera by adapting my old black and white enlarger and an old damaged tripod that I had. (Fig.3.)
This gives a firm base so that pictures can be sharp. I made up a small table to sit under the camera position for small finds a grid scale will also be needed to show the size of the items being photographed. Grids can be downloaded from various websites.
An old angle-poise lamp fitted with a blue daylight bulb gives a good light source...I picked this one up from a boot sale for a pound plus the cost of a bulb. (Fig.4.)
It would also be a good idea to invite your local Finds Liason Officer along to your meetings to record finds for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, you’ll be amazed how helpful they can be in identifying finds.
There are lots of ways to raise extra funds for the club. A monthly raffle is a good idea as a book of raffle tickets can be purchased cheaply and prizes can either be donated items from members or associates or could be purchased cheaply from internet auction sites. The jeweller’s loupe and the turtle finds box shown came from E-Bay and cost only a couple of pounds each, often you can buy more than one at a discount and cheaper postage too. These have gone down very well at our club. (Fig.5.)
Another way of making club funds is to have a stall at local fetes or craft fairs if there is no charge. A box-frame about 4 feet square that slots together with a tarpaulin inside it and a couple of bags of sand to bury old pennies and halfpennies in can be made up and you can charge 20p to have a go at finding a coin with a detector. You’ll be surprised how many people will want a go and it’s a good way of promoting the club too.
It is very important to not only get your club known but to get it known for all the right reasons. A good Public Relations Officer can be a bonus to a club and help to promote the club in many ways. Sending club news to magazines and newspapers, making contact with official bodies and other clubs, developing links with detector manufacturers and suppliers. Our PRO has a novel way of doing things. At every meeting he makes a video recording of what’s going on and makes it available on his blogspot ‘Addicted to Bleeps’ on the internet.
It’s also a good idea to set up a webpage for the club (if you have someone who knows how to do it) where you can put club information and photo’s and an e-mail address so that you can be contacted. We also have a ‘Facebook’ page that is available to members and friends so that they can keep up with what’s happening in the club.
Other ways of promoting the club are at fete’s and fairs or by giving talks on detecting to local interest groups such as the W.I. and the local history societies. These can also be useful ways of gaining new contacts for permission to search. I regularly give talks, and living in a rural area many of the audience are farmers, (or their wives) and I have been asked on occasions if I would like to search their fields or gardens and the answer is always ‘Yes Please!’
Another useful PR tool is to offer a free recovery service. I have gained at least two permissions by helping farmers recover lost items and if someone loses a piece of jewellery and you find it the local newspaper always likes to hear the story.
Finding People to Give Talks.
A good club should have a regular supply of people willing to give talks on a variety of subjects associated with detecting. Local FLO’s or friendly archaeologists will happily give talks if asked and another possibility is a member of the ‘Bomb Squad’ to give you information on what to do if you find live ordnance. If you know any coin or antique specialists they may also agree to give talks on their specialist areas. There are also people in some local history societies who enjoy talking about their own pet subject, why not ask them along.
It could be a good idea to start a club library. It can be useful in helping members to identify finds that they are not sure about, or for learning new detecting techniques or researching skills. Books could be purchased once sufficient club funds have built up although at first books may have to be borrowed from other members. These are a few of my own books that I take in to meetings (Fig.6.)
A small collection like this is enough to get the library going and it can be expanded later. Books could be lent out at a charge of say 50p per book per month but a record must be kept of borrowers to ensure the books come back.
It is worthwhile finding out about club members backgrounds and interests as quite often many of them will have skills or attributes that that could be used in a club context, or they could know friends or family who could help. I have already mentioned this with the club membership cards. Yet another member works for a vinyl graphics company and has obtained club car stickers for us at no charge. There may be others who have woodworking skills who would be happy to make up some finds display cases for exhibitions of finds.
Group Digs and Outings.
Probably the biggest problem in any metal detecting club is finding sites for the club to search. If you are within easy reach of the coast you could do regular beach trips but this can become monotonous after a while, especially if the beaches are well searched by other detector users. It is often difficult to obtain permission to search for an individual detectorist. However when you are seeking permission for a large group search it can become almost impossible to find landowners or farmers who are willing to allow you on their land. This becomes even more difficult when there are other clubs in your area who are well established with local farmers.
There is no easy solution to this problem other than a continual round of letter writing and knocking on doors at every opportunity. It may be worthwhile appointing a couple of ‘Site Officers’ within the club, tasked with researching and obtaining club sites. The individuals would need to be very confident and outgoing personalities with no inhibitions about approaching and seeking permissions. One other method that seems to have become more popular recently is that of paying the farmer a fixed sum per searcher for a days detecting on his fields. I have never yet been in a club that does this but it could be a possible way forward when no other option is available.
Go For It!
I have hopefully managed to cover the majority of things that need doing in setting up and running a successful club. There are probably many things that I have missed out but even with a lifetimes experience there will always be something else to learn. It can be hard work but the satisfaction of having a club that is happy and that people enjoy belonging to makes it all worth the effort.
If you decide to set up your own club after reading these articles I wish you
‘Good Luck and Happy Detecting.’
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We don't have any prizes awarded at meetings, its something that we may do but at the moment we are doing without them as t can become a bit silly if someone is out every day and has good land as the laws of averages means he/she will tend to scoop the prizes at each meeting and this can cause others to lose enthusiasm for putting their own hard worked for and modest items on display. Our club is called the Norfolk Heritage & Recovery Group, wording carefully chosen so as to include ALL kinds of heritage recovery. This can mostly be metal detecting but includes flint and pottery from Eyes Only finds from detecting trips or fieldwalking, plus a schools Heritage Learning project whereby we will work with schools and a local large estate to invite the pupils and teachers over for a morning to sample the detected finds and other materials, explaining where they came from, what they were used for, how they may have been lost or discarded and then looking at more modern items the kids are using and chatting about how they might feel if they lost these out in a field. Rambling on a bit, but what we are trying to do is to raise awareness of the past through recovering heritage items for future generations, working with the archaeological community where possible and of course donating all of our profits from Club Digs to the very worthy Nook Appeal to raise funds for the building of a local childrens hospice.
We aim to provide a friendly place to walk into and be surrounded by friends with the same passion for heritage, to share views and knowledge and to get out together in the fields whenever possible. Liam
i have been wanting to start a club for months and know this will be a priceless read . lets hope it gives me the push i needed to take the first steps and get the ball rolling .
in my book your gentleman jester jim .
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After a life time of ever increasing bureaucracy in the work place, and the stress of having to deal with people, I opted for a stress free life and exited the rat race as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I have found that MD is one of the best stress busters ever invented, and while I am a member of a club, I've found that keeping lists, and having to "deal with people", doing things to deadlines (if you want to get actively involved in your club) ... simply replaces the work stress with another stress. It's a shame, but that is how it is for me.
I wish that there were a stress free way of getting involved in running a club, and hats off to all those who do it on our behalf.
As it shows it takes a fair bit of effort, and hence time, to start and then run a club (of any sorts).
If a group of people in an area with no club (or full clubs) want to start up a MD club in my opinion initially it might be better to just meet a local pub a few times and talk things over before commiting to starting a club.
From experience I know how keen people can be to join a new club, and hence have its benefits, but are unwilling or unable to take an active part in running it thereby meaning everything falls onto just one or two people and meaning it is not practical.
In Jim's article he said about a committee of 8 members, for this you would need a minimum of 80 members and probably significantly more.
Oldartifact has given a perfectly valid reason why some people would not want to be involved in running the club, others have high pressure jobs and just want a relaxing hobby without the "hassle" of being involved in running it, while others have family commitments that mean they can not devote the time.
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Starting and running a club might not be a "5 minute job" but it can be very rewarding and as Jim said "It can be a very worthwhile way of making new friends and promoting our passion". I fully appreciate it is not for everybody and that some that would like to take a more active part in running a club are not able to for various reason. But if already a club member I would suggest that by becoming more actively involed you will get more out of it, and if there is not a local club helping to start one will be very satisfying.jesterjim wrote:Hi folks.....
Thanks for your comments on the post and I hope that it will prove helpful to anyone considering starting a club.... I am sure they will
remember though that these are only guidelines and are not set in stone...... All clubs vary slightly but these are an excellent starting point
It is correct that there can be a lot of pressure in running a club as I know only too well!.... Agree 110%
however it can be a very worthwhile way of making new friends and promoting our passion.... Again agree 110%, also very satisfying to see the end results of everybody having a good event
I'm wondering however where you got the figure of 80 members from Evan?...... I worked on 1 committee member per 10 members, otherwise a risk of too many chiefs and not enough indians, and was based on your comment of 8 committee members (but see below)
in the club's that I've started we always had a limit of 50 at the start and usually started with about a dozen people..... Sounds very sensible
the committee numbers will be dictated by the number of members so if the club starts small then you will only need a few people to get the organisation going...Chairman, Vice, Secretary and Treasurer as a bare minimum..... Agee 110%. In early days if short of "volunteers" Secretary can even double up as Treasurer, or the Vicechairperson take on one of these roles. Then as the club grows increase the size of the committee to ensure that the members have a valid input rather then just the "select few"
I've found that in a new club that we all promote it so until it's established a publicity officer isn't needed, Agree
however it soon becomes apparent that a site's officer is a necessity and probably the most difficult job in the club! Knowing how difficult it can be getting a permission for 1 person I can imagine doing this for a club is very difficult
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