Are There Rules To Challenge Coins?

October 16, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Challenge coins have been a part of military culture for over 100 years.
  • Because of this, there are lots of rules to follow when it comes to challenge coins.
  • The most important challenge coin tradition is the coin check.
  • Most challenge coin rules pertain to the coin check
  • If you are not in the military, you do not have to follow these challenge coin rules.

‍Challenge coins have been an important part of military culture for over 100 years, but being that they’re a military tradition, do challenge coins have rules?

As you might have guessed, there are lots of rules and etiquette that must be followed when it comes to challenge coins. The most important of these rules is that you must carry your challenge coin with you at all times and that you can be challenged to show it at any time and anywhere.

Being that challenge coins are so closely tied to the military, it's no surprise that there are plenty of challenge coin rules and traditions that must be followed. After all, discipline is kind of the military’s thing. That being said, if you aren’t close to anyone in the military or a service member yourself, you probably aren’t aware of what these rules are. So what challenge coin traditions and rules are there to follow?

Table of Contents

‍Are There Rules To Challenge Coins?

Being that challenge coin tradition has been developed by military members since World War I there are lots of challenge coin rules to abide by. Receiving a military challenge coin is a huge honor and the respect that is given to these challenge coins is immense.

However, the important thing to remember is that if you want to get challenge coins for your group, there is nothing forcing you to follow these specific rules. Challenge coin rules are taken very seriously in the military, but in other organizations outside of the military, you are free to use your challenge coins however you want to.

What Is A Coin Check?

A coin check or challenge is the central challenge coin tradition and most challenge coin rules apply to these coin check games. Basically, a coin check consists of a challenge and response and is a way to ensure that a challenge coin owner has their coin with them.

A challenge must be initiated in the correct manner. To start a coin check, one of the coin holders will firmly place their own coin on the table or bar in front of them. This challenges the one or few people the challenger is with, however, if the challenger were to accidentally drop their coin, this would initiate a challenge to all coin holders present.

Once the coin check is initiated, everyone who was challenged responds by showing that they have their coin. If a person who was challenged is unable to show that they have their coin, they lose the challenge and will need to buy a round of drinks for the challenger and all those persons who were able to show their coin.

On the other hand, however, if all those people who were challenged are able to show that they have their coin, the challenger loses and will need to buy every person who was challenged a round of drinks.

Challenge Coin Rules

Though the basics of the coin checks are quite simple there are still plenty of other rules that you need to be aware of if you want to play the right way.

Everyone Needs To Know The Rules

The first rule of challenging is that everyone participating needs to know all of the rules. They must be clearly explained to each challenge coin recipient before they are to be challenged. This is largely because the game is simply unfair if everyone participating isn’t aware of the rules.

Along similar lines, you can’t challenge just anyone. If a person has not yet been given a coin, they are not allowed to participate either, as again, if they don’t have a coin to begin with, they most certainly can’t present it if they are challenged.

Keep Your Coin Close By At All Times

Probably the most important challenge coin rule is that you need to have your coin close by everywhere you go and at all times. Most people keep their coins in their pockets or other places that are easily accessible and on their person, however, as long as you are within arm’s reach of your coin you can properly respond to a challenge.

Exercise The Challenge With Caution

Another important thing to consider is what the consequences of initiating a coin check could be. After all, if you accidentally drop your coin and lose the challenge, you’ll be the one that has to buy a round of drinks for everyone else.

Challenge coins are supposed to be a source of morale within a group, but if your group has a knack for failing challenges and you continue to challenge Indiscriminately, it could have the opposite effect, which is just another reason to use caution when challenging.

Participants Can Only Be Challenged Once

This rule may seem obvious, but it is still important to note. If you challenge someone and they are unable to produce their coin, you cannot continue to challenge them throughout the night every time you want them to buy a round of drinks.

This would be incredibly unfair and simply cruel to whatever poor person was unlucky enough to forget their coin that night.

Don’t Hand Someone Your Coin

You should hand someone your coin as handing someone else your coin means that you are giving it to them. A proper challenge response consists of you taking out your coin and holding it in your hand or putting it on the table or bar in front of you.

If someone wants a closer look they can pick it up and look at it however, they are honor bound to return the coin to the exact spot that they picked it up from.

Don’t Deface Your Coin To Make It More Easily Wearable

Improper care is something that all owners of challenge coins need to avoid. This usually consists of people trying to alter or deface their coins to make it more easily wearable.

While coins worn around the neck are generally accepted, drilling holes in your coins so that you can wear them on key chains or as belt buckles is completely against the rules.

Always Be Prepared For A Challenge

Challenges can happen at any time and anywhere, so everyone participating in the game must be prepared to produce their coins at all times. Though there may be some exceptions in extreme cases, for the most part, you need to be ready at all times.

Along these same lines, if you lose your challenge coin, you’re probably better off keeping it a secret, as people may try to take advantage of the fact they know you don’t know where it is. Just make sure that you are able to replace the coin as soon as you possibly can so that you don’t have to worry about unnecessarily losing challenges.

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