How To Give Challenge Coins

October 16, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Challenge coins have a long history and there are tons of traditions and rules to follow.
  • Challenge coins are given out discreetly in a handshake to preserve secrecy.
  • The coin check, or challenge, is the most important challenge coin tradition.
  • Most other rules surrounding challenge coins have to do with these coin checks.
  • If you aren’t in the military you can make or follow whatever traditions you want to.

‍Challenge coins have been a popular tradition in the military for over 100 years, so it’s no surprise that there are rules about how they should be given out.

So how are you supposed to give out challenge coins? When someone is being presented with a challenge coin it is usually done discreetly to maintain secrecy. The coin giver will put the coin in their hand and pass it on to the recipient in a discrete handshake.

Challenge coins have been an essential part of military culture for a long time and there are lots of rules and etiquette that must be followed. However, if you aren’t close to anyone in the military or a service member yourself, you probably wouldn’t be familiar with these challenge coin rules. So how are challenge coins given out and what other challenge coin traditions and etiquette are there?

Table of Contents

‍Challenge Coins In The Military

Military challenge coins have been a part of military culture in one form or another since World War I, and they have been treasured by service members in the armed forces ever since. These special coins are given to veterans and current military members to honor service, boost morale, and recognize extraordinary achievements.

These military coins often feature the insignia of the branch and specific military unit that a service member served with, proving membership in that unit. Because of this, many veterans and current military personnel hold their coins with great respect and importance.

How To Give Challenge Coins

The tradition of challenge coins has had a long time to develop, so just like every other aspect of challenge coins, the process of giving someone their coin must be done in the correct manner.

Unlike many other awards ceremonies where the whole point of the ceremony is for the recipient to receive their award in public in front of all of their friends and family, challenge coins must be given out discreetly to preserve secrecy.

In the military, if you are going to give a challenge coin it must be done the right way. When someone is going to receive their coin the person giving it to them will secretly place it in their hand. When the recipient approaches the coin giver, the coin will be discreetly passed to the recipient via a handshake, so that no one else is aware of what happened.

Challenge Coin Tradition

The traditions surrounding challenge coins don’t simply stop after they are given out. In fact, most of the traditions and etiquette you need to know about challenge coins deal with what happens after someone receives their coin.

The most essential of these traditions is the coin check or challenge. As you might have guessed a coin check is when someone challenges someone else to prove that they have their challenge coin with them.

Coin checks are typically initiated when one coin holder takes out their coin and places it on the bar or table in front of them. This is understood to be a challenge to the one of few people that the challenge is with, however, if the challenger were to accidentally drop their coin, this would initiate a challenge with everyone in the room.

Once initiated, anyone who has been challenged must show that they have their challenge coin with them. If someone is unable to produce their coin, they lose the coin check and will be forced to buy the challenge and anyone else who won the challenge a round of drinks.

However, the challenge isn't completely safe during this coin check either. In the case that everyone who was challenged is able to show that they have their coin, the challenger will be the one forced to buy everyone else a round of drinks.

Other Challenge Coin Rules

The coin check or challenge is the central tradition that comes along with challenge coins, so it’s no surprise that most of the other essential rules of challenge coin etiquette pertain to this game. Here are the most important ones.

Everyone Needs To Know The Rules

To keep things fair, everyone who receives a challenge coin needs to have the rules of the game explained to them before they can participate in a coin check. This is simply because the coin check game breaks down if not all the participants know the rules.

Always Keep Your Challenge Coin Close By

This is probably the most important rule if you want to be sure that you aren’t constantly losing challenges. Most people keep their coins in their pocket or some other similarly accessible place on their person. However, as long as you are within arms reach of your challenge coin, you don’t have to worry.

Don’t Deface Your Challenge Coin Or Wear It As An Accessory

Another simple rule, this is just meant to preserve the respect held for challenge coins and prevent them from being too easy to carry around. Basically, just don’t drill a hole in your coin so that you can wear it as a belt buckle or on a keychain.

Don’t Hand Someone Your Challenge Coin

Another very important rule to be aware of is that you should never hand someone your challenge coin. Traditionally, handing over a coin means that you are giving it to them, so if you don’t want to give up your coins, don’t have them over to anyone.

People Can Only Be Challenged Once

This is another rule to keep things as fair as possible. Once you challenge someone, you can’t continue challenging them every time you want another free drink. Once you find out that they don’t have their coin, you can’t challenge them anymore.

Who Needs To Follow Challenge Coin Rules?

As you can see, there are tons of rules and etiquette to follow when it comes to challenge coins, and this might seem like it could be more stressful than fun. However, if you aren’t in the military, there’s nothing forcing you to follow these rules.

Now that making custom challenge coins has become increasingly popular it’s easy as ever for anyone in any organization to make their own custom challenge coin, with their own special traditions.

Fraternal organizations, local clubs, sports teams, schools, and plenty of other organizations have increasingly flocked toward challenge coins in recent years, all of whom follow these rules to varying extents.

Though there is a certain amount of respect and honor that must be given to challenge coins in the armed forces, if you make your own custom coin, you can make or follow whatever traditions you want to.

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