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From Dick Stout
FMDAC & Dick Stout

When I first started detecting I would sometimes run into another detectorist while hunting a school ground, park or beach. It was inevitable that we would take a few moments to chat, share finds, ideas, tips and sometimes even sites. I loved those meetings and conversations because up until then I had no one to share my hobby with. I was passionate about detecting, and finding someone else who felt the same was just great. One particular meeting at an old school led to the formation of a local club in Trenton, New Jersey. The individual I met was Ron Womer, and he was the first president. I am pleased to say the Mid-Jersey Research and Recovery Club is still going strong. It was also at during that period that I started writing an article or two for the various treasure magazines.
In April of 1983 I penned an article for Western & Eastern Treasures called “What the Future Holds for Treasure Hunting”. The gist of my effort was to say we needed to start thinking about preserving our pastime. At that time various governmental bodies, both national and local, were starting to restrict our efforts. I wanted to see what other hobbyists thought, and to see if maybe there was a way we could actually get the ball rolling, organize and make out voices heard. Coin Collectors had the ANA, gun owners had the NRA, and we had nothing. I added my address to the article, and the response was pretty over whelming.
Then in November of the same year I wrote another article, “A National Organization, to Be or Not to Be”. In between the first article and the second I had traveled to most every club in the Northeast, speaking about the effort, and bringing them on board with the concept. At one meeting in Haddon Heights I met Harry Bodofsky, a member of the South Jersey Metal Detecting Club, and the president of the First State Metal Detectors, in Wilmington, Delaware. Harry listened to my spiel, and suggested that perhaps getting clubs to form state associations would be the best route. It made a great deal of sense, and that became my passion for the next few months. More visiting clubs, and more talks took place. Finally, I had detectorists ready and willing to take on the challenge in the following states: New Jersey, Illinois, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas and Ohio.
The state concept worked for a while, but eventually some of the states just didn’t respond as we had hoped. As a result we continued with our great group in the east, and we decided to become a regional association. We became the Federation of Metal Detector & Archaeological Clubs, and thanks to Sam Abramo, a detectorist and attorney, we incorporated. We met every month in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, and we started planning our future. We started our newsletter, The Quest, and sent them to each and every member of our organization. After the manufacturers took notice we begin receiving monetary donations towards our efforts, which included trying to bring more clubs into our fold.

We had our first Treasure Weekend in Atlantic City in 1985, and in 1986 it attracted well over 600 TH’ers along with all the manufacturers, treasure hunting greats, and our grand prize was a brand new Ford Mustang automobile. Some may boast of having the biggest treasure show in the country, but the Atlantic City events became legend. We had our seminars and banquets at the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino, and our hunt field (beach area) encompassed two full city blocks. We had TV coverage, and crowds lined up on the boardwalk watching our events take place. We didn’t have to coax the manufacturers to attend after that….they looked forward to attending, and we were on a roll.

During my efforts to organize the pastime I received a letter from George McCrae, the CEO of White’s Electronics, in Inverness, Scotland. He had heard of our efforts, and suggested we contact the National Council for Metal Detecting in the United Kingdom. The NCMD was a very well organized group of clubs and detectorists in England, and had great success dealing with the local governing bodies. George felt that they could give us direction in our efforts, and he was dead on. He put me in contact with John Howland, and Gerald Costello. John was chairman of the Special Purposes committee, and Gerald was the General Secretary, and they were kind enough to share info, and ultimately attend one of our Atlantic City Conventions. It was at this convention that we met with Don Cyr, president of the Canadian Metal Detecting Association, and formed the World Council for Metal Detecting.

With the encouragement, and monetary support of the US manufacturers we had our first formal meeting at Longleat Castle, near Bath, England, the following year, preceding the Longleat Rally. A total of 50 FMDAC detectorists went on this trip to England, participated in the Rally, and in my opinion, it was the beginning of what is now considered a routine excursion by many detectorists here in the US. A big thank you to Melinda Hazelman for putting together this historic trip.
The FMDAC, at it’s peak, had about 180 clubs from across the country, and we were a very effective and viable group. With the help of the manufacturers we built up a legal fund, and tackled issues to ensure that metal detectorists would not be discriminated against. One of our major victories was overturning a no detecting ban in Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, the largest city park in the United States. Through the efforts of a hired attorney, and countless meetings with the city council we came up with a permit system that allowed access to those who passed a very stringent recovery test.
A little aside here… When I began doing the FMDAC newsletter I received encouragement from Karl von Mueller. A few phone calls and letters later he was writing small blurbs for the Quest. He liked our effort and I appreciated his support. Later on I finally met Karl at the Lost Treasure Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event itself was one of those moments you will not forget…. I was walking the floor of the bourse or arena, and I noticed a quarter on the floor. I bent down to pick it up, and it started moving. Yep, I was had, and on the other end of the string was Karl with a big grin on his face. We chatted for a while and agreed to get together later after the show. His encouragement, his humor and his lively nature is something I will never forget.
In 1988 I accepted a position with Garrett Electronics in Garland, Texas. A decision that has caused me to review over and over it’s merits, even to this day. Anytime you pick up your family and move them from their roots, it’s traumatic. From New Jersey to Texas was extra traumatic. Anyway, when I left the FMDAC’s reins were turned over to Emery Buziak, a very capable leader. Since that time the FMDAC has had many different presidents, officers, and has had it’s up’s and down’s.
Today the FMDAC represents 35 clubs, a far cry from the number we once had.  Likewise, for whatever reason, The World Council was put on hold and died a slow death.  The Atlantic City event was moved to cities and towns across the country, and attendance has dropped dramatically.  From what I see and from what I hear, communication from the officers is non-existent, and sadly I doubt very much that the FMDAC will ever regain it’s prominence and popularity.

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