If you're part of the military, you probably know what a challenge coin is. They are traditionally carried by military personnel to identify with a particular unit or group. The make effective tools for improving morale among a unit and to help members feel an increased sense of belonging. They can also be presented in honor of special service, bravery, etc. But challenge coins aren't exclusive to the military. In fact, they have become quite popular with a wide range of groups and organizations, from law enforcement to religion.
How the Challenge Works
So what's the challenge about challenge coins? To find out, you might head to a military bar. That's where many of the "challenges" involved with these coins have or still do take place. Here's how it works: a challenger takes his or her coin out and taps it on the bar or makes some indication of a challenge to another coin holder. The person being challenged and all other coin holders present must immediately produce their own coins. Any coin holder caught without a coin is responsible to buy a round of drinks for all who produced their coins. However, if everyone challenged produces a coin, the challenger is responsible to pay for a round of drinks for all coin holders. Rules vary among different groups.
The Rise of the Challenge Coin
While no one is certain where challenge coins originated (many believe these coins got their start in the Army Air Corps of the United States in World War I), they have certainly become popular, not just among military groups, but among a wide range of groups and organizations. This includes police departments, first responders, federal departments and agencies, sports groups -- even churches. They can be used to commemorate a certain period of time or event. For example, one police challenge coin commemorates a serial murder investigation. The demand for challenge coins has resulted in the rise of a whole industry of challenge coin makers, and a simple search online will put you in touch with a variety of business dedicated solely to creating and selling these coins.
Challenge coins carry designs that are unique to each organization, comparable to how flags and emblems carry their own unique designs. If you're looking for a way to add unity to your group or want to commemorate a special occasion, a challenge coin might be just the thing for you.