Challenge coins are largely used in the military. They are used as a symbol of camaraderie in the service and to foster brotherhood. Most military challenge coins are also used to symbolize the military unit’s identity so that servicemen have a sense of strong belonging to their unit. Other challenge coins are given to recognize service excellence and to commemorate soldier deployment. In the military, the fallen brothers are also remembered by issuing custom coins. While this practice is common with US, British, Australian, Canadian and German military forces, many others are following suit.
A challenge coin is also fondly used in a challenge coin check. It involves a challenge and a response. A serviceman who has a challenge coin can issue or initiate a coin check challenge when he is in a bar. This means that he is presenting his coin and the others present in the bar should present their coins out as well. If there is someone who does not have his coin with him at that moment, he shall be obligated to buy one round of drinks for everyone. On the other hand, if everyone else in the bar has his coin with him, the one who initiated the challenge will be the one to buy the round of drinks. This challenge fosters esprit de corps and is a fun way to enjoy each other’s company.
Using custom coins can be entertaining but there are standing rules when it comes to the coin check challenge. First of all, the challenge shall be kicked off by the initiator this way: he holds the coin up in the air for all to see and he will declare the challenge by making a statement. Sometimes, he may have to shout or scream. However he does it, the essence is that there needs to be a verbal acknowledgement that he is starting the challenge. On the other hand, another method that can be utilized is by placing the coin on the table, bar or floor in such a manner that it produces a very audible noise. Whether the challenge is issued verbally or non-verbally, it should be easily heard to be acknowledged.
Sometimes, someone may accidentally drop his coin and it is acknowledged by the others. It means that a challenge has been issued even if that person did not intend to do so. In the military service, dropping your coin is equivalent to improper care. So if you have dropped it and unintentionally issued a challenge, you cannot back out of it and you would eventually have to buy a round of drinks for everyone if they all have their custom coins with them. You cannot give the excuse that you just dropped the coin by accident.
The response to the challenge shall be given in the same manner as the issuance of the challenge. The other military or service personnel in the bar will also draw out their custom coins and show it to the rest. If somebody is present that cannot properly respond to the challenge, he will by drinks for the challenger and the group. Again, if the challenger finds himself surrounded by a group that responded correctly to his challenge, he is obligated to buy drinks for them. If you, as a challenger or as one challenged, fail to buy a round, it is considered a disgraceful offense. You will be asked to turn-in your challenge coin to the agency that issued it to you.
Another rule of coin checks is that they can be done anytime, in any place. When responding to the challenge, you are only allowed one step and an arm’s length to reach for your coin. If you cannot reach it within that limit, then you have lost the challenge. Coin checks apply to personnel who are clothed or unclothed, too. There are no exceptions. So if you are one of the military personnel who have been issued a challenge coin, always make sure that you have it with you.