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How do you start a paranormal investigation group?  That is a question that I have been asked on several occasions.  I am a seasoned paranormal investigator of about five years now and I will do my best to break it down for all of you that may be considering such a venture.

First you will need to decide whether or not you want to be a ghost hunter or a paranormal investigator.  The steps are extremely different for each of these.  A ghost hunter generally believes that any unexplainable occurrence is in fact the workings of a ghost and is generally happy hanging out in cemeteries late at night taking pictures. Starting a group of ghost hunters is easy.  Get a group of friends together and head to the nearest cemetery.   

Now lets examine what a paranormal investigator really does. A paranormal investigator systematically explores all possibilities and attempts to prove natural and scientific reasoning’s for unexplainable activity.  They gather and compare evidence collected ranging from photos, video, electronic voice phenomena also known as EVP’s and other evidence collecting equipment, as well as personal experiences.  Paranormal investigators are generally open-minded to the existence of ghosts but do not automatically assume that the activity in question is a ghost or paranormal.  Once evidence is gathered, they painstakingly try to recreate the activity in question to rule out the possibility of paranormal activity or in short, to “debunk” the claim.  This being said, if you’re interested in starting an actual paranormal investigation team, the steps will be a bit more complex.

The first step is probably the most important steps, networking.  A good way to start networking is by attending paranormal conventions in and around your area.  This will put you in contact with other paranormal groups in your area, which you will want to build a relationship with, and it will also allow you to meet reputable authorities from the field.  One of the biggest reasons for you to network with other groups is for the simple fact that, the more people you know the more opportunities for investigations.  Also, these new friends and contacts are always more than willing to talk to you about equipment and investigations that they have been on. 

At this point you should have made some good contacts and have found some cool places to investigate.  Now we have two more crucial steps to discuss: building your team and purchasing equipment. There are two excellent ways to find members. The first is to talk to members of other groups. Explain to them that you are looking for members, but by no means are you asking them to leave their current group.  You are just wondering if they know of anyone that would be interested in investigating with you.  Second is advertising in local papers or websites in your community.  I had tremendous success using both of these methods.  As a team leader you personally may have to seek out and recruit people to fill the various roles.

While many of the operational responsibilities such as fundraising and promotion of the organization are shared by the group, the typical investigation teams consist of five key rolls.  Keep in mind that a person may fill more than one of the roles listed.

 1. Case Manager: The case manager is usually in charge of client contact, finding and accepting cases and maintaining client files. 

 2. Researcher/Research Assistants: The researcher and research assistants are exactly what the title infers.  While they may also be     involved in the on-site investigations, their main responsibility is researching the case.  Checking and cross checking deeds, titles, geological maps and many other public records as well as conducting interviews with clients and others who may have insight to locations. Ultimately it is their job to investigate and validate the background of the case.

 3. Tech Manager: The tech manager is in charge of purchasing, maintaining, set-up, and monitoring of equipment such as video camera’s, motion sensors, and other monitoring equipment.

 4. Investigators: The investigators themselves are the “grunts” of the operation.  During an investigation they spend most of their time walking through locations with digital cameras or video cameras while asking questions out loud trying to get responses either in the form of object movement, knocks, or voices that are usually only heard during replay of digital voice recorders. They also spend hours on end after the investigation, analyzing the data collected, looking at all the possibilities for a particular occurrence or debunking.

 5. Lead investigator: While not an expert in any particular field, the lead investigators or team leaders knows by experience how the investigation should progress. 

The final step in forming your team is purchasing equipment.  Most people who have an interest in joining a paranormal team have probably went with other teams or have conducted investigations on their own and will most likely come with their own equipment.  That being said, I will list the basic equipment for you.  Remember when you are looking for equipment that, the equipment is expensive.  You should start out by purchasing the bare necessities and upgrading your kits as you progress.

 1. Digital Camera

 2. Video Camera: Video can be used to document any phenomena in its entirety. It     can show the length of time the occurrence happens, what is happening, and possibly even what’s causing the occurrence.

 3. Digital Voice Recorder: These are not only useful to take voice notes during an investigation; they are also used to collect evidence and voices not heard by the human ear.

 4. EMF Detector: The electromagnetic field detector is one of the most important pieces of equipment.  This instrument allows the investigator to locate and track energy sources or spirits.  The EMF detects fluctuations in electromagnetic fields.  Investigators believe that spirits can disrupt the electromagnetic field and that you can tell one is present by detecting readings higher than normal.

 5. Laser Thermometer: A laser thermometer will allow you to detect minute to great changes is temperatures in precise locations which can alert you to the presence of a spirit.

 6. Notebooks: This will allow investigators to log the times and describe certain experiences or occurrences.

 7. First Aid Kit: You never know when someone might step on a nail during an investigation.

 8. Hand Held Radio: These are a handy piece of equipment to have.  It will allow your group to keep in contact with each other while spread out in a building or in a wooded location.

This list by no means lists all of the equipment that seasoned and well-established paranormal teams keep in their arsenal but with these basic necessities you can conduct a pretty thorough investigation.

 If you followed this plan, you should now have a small team assembled and have a good plan of attack on purchasing or acquiring your equipment.  Now you need to decide on a couple key things: location and times for your meetings and what types of investigations you want to conduct.  These are items that you and your group will have to decide together.  

Well in a nutshell, there you have it, the most basic steps to start your own paranormal research team.  While these are not the only things involved in running and maintaining your group, it will get you started.  It will take you and your group a little time to be running like a well-oiled machine. With a little bit of patience and dedication you will have more opportunities than you can handle.

 Happy hunting!