Dick Stout started metal detecting in the early 70s in New Jersey, then moved to Texas to work for Garrett, which was short-lived when they downsized two years later. Along the way, he founded the Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Clubs, Inc. (FMDAC), which is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and protection of the hobby of recreational metal detecting and prospecting. One way this was achieved was by speaking at congressional committee hearings in Washington D.C, on metal detectorist’s behalf, achieving local restrictions being lifted so metal detecting and prospecting was possible, and the hobby could grow further.
Still residing in Texas, Dick has written numerous articles for various metal detecting publications, written books dedicated to improving the hobby, and maintains the well-known metal detecting blog Stout Standards, which shares metal detecting tips and musings.
I am honored to interview him. Please see my questions and his answers below.
What was your first detector, and what do you detect with now?
My first detector was a large box, White’s Coinmaster, and to be honest, I never really understood a helluva lot about it. I was a novice, and I just set the metal/mineral control to metal, scanned the coil, and dug every beep. I didn’t care because I was finding a boatload of coins.
Today I use the Nokta Simplex+ along with the SP24 coil. It’s a fantastic machine for the money.
Tell us about some of your remarkable finds.
You know that’s a difficult question. What is remarkable to me might not be to someone else. When hunting the UK, I found Roman coins and brooches that were hundreds of years old yet were not necessarily worth a great deal, but to me, they were priceless.
Likewise, here in the states, I’ve recovered Civil War relics, gold rings, jewelry, and old coins that mean a lot to me, but to others, maybe not so much.
A couple of my favorites are a 1796 “Liberty” error coin that I found at an old colonial site and sold a few years ago for $900 and a diamond ring that my wife used to wear but disappeared when we lost our home to a tornado in 2015.
You founded the Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Clubs, Inc. (FMDAC). Are you still a part of the organization in any capacity?
No, I’m not, and to tell the truth, I’m disappointed in how it’s now being run.
Are you happy to see where the hobby has gone or worried about its future? If so, tell us what you think today’s detectorists should consider so we can keep on preserving the hobby for generations to come.
I’m afraid we’re growing so fast that we’re going to run out of places to swing our coil. We have promoted but not educated, and we’re now paying the price with restrictions and bans. The greater majority of participants do a good job, but there’s another segment that simply doesn’t care. They’re in a hurry to get rich, and the end result? Too many unfilled holes and unwanted trash left in view.
If our pastime is to continue and thrive, the manufacturers must take the lead. They have the money and the ability to persuade the end-user. I’m not sure just how it would all work, but we better get busy.
If you could talk to all the newer detectorists jumping to become YouTube and TikTok stars, what would you tell them to preserve the hobby?
Stop trying to be a rock star and start being an ambassador for the hobby. It seems the goal is to be popular on these social media sites, not being a knowledgeable and successful detectorist.
Recently, I have heard a few metal detectorists, club presidents, and board members struggling to bring on new members and come up with new ideas to keep people interested in attending meetings and events. What thoughts or ideas can you give those clubs struggling to connect to local detectorists, retain members and keep it interesting?
Again, social media has had a huge effect on clubs, and that’s really sad. It used to be that you looked forward to the monthly meeting to see what people were finding, what equipment they were using, and to learn new methods. Now they find it on the internet.
Club members today are only interested in being entertained, not in helping, and that’s a difficult task for officers. Getting speakers and having interesting programs is not easy, and when the task is left to one or two, burnout occurs.
I can’t offer up any concrete or definitive solution, but the more you involve your members, the better. Once they feel part of the club, once they feel important, needed, and vital to the organization’s success, the quicker you will grow. Don’t ask for volunteers; appoint them, but do it in a way that’s flattering. If you wait for the entertained to entertain, it will never happen, and your club will die a slow death.
If you had a chance to put all the manufacturers in one room and talk to them, what would you say to help the hobby keep on moving forward? What innovations would you like to see, what do you wish they did more of, and what do you feel they are missing in their marketing or target market?
I keep hoping that wireless will be a standard feature on all detectors. Disappointed that it hasn’t been a priority. I’d also like to see stock coils in smaller sizes, something like 7 or 8 inch.
On another note, they need to be more definitive and more direct in their wording when it comes to hunting public places. Parks and schools are getting rebuilt, re-beautified, and detecting them is not as easy as it once was. Their pamphlets need to reflect this, and they should not sugarcoat the situation.
What other metal detecting organizations, individuals, or sites do you see doing remarkable work that you would like to give credit for making recreational metal detecting better?
Oh wow, I will pass on this, sorry. I’m sure there are groups out there doing great things. I’m just not up on it right now, and I’d hate to overlook any.
Last of all. Many detectorists see you as a mentor and advocate of the hobby. However, who are your mentors that you, even as an advanced detectorist, are learning things from?
Hmm, here again, I’m at a loss to answer. Not because there aren’t great detectorists out there, but because I’ve hit that stage in my life and pastime where I want to take things easy. I don’t want to go brain dead trying to understand detector settings and programs. I just want to get out in the fresh air and dig a few coins… nothing more. I’ve become a “turn on and go” senior.
Having said this, I do admire and have a lot of respect for Andy Sabisch, Steve Herschbach, Monte Berry, Ron Guinazzo, Bob Sickler, and Joe Patrick.
I would like to thank Dick Stout for being an advocate for recreational metal detecting and letting me interview him. Be sure to read his blog Stout Standards for further metal detecting advice.