Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting
So, you want to get into the hobby of metal detecting huh? Well, congratulations on choosing what has to be one of the most exciting and rewarding hobbies around! However, as with most hobbies, you have lots of options to choose from and various things to consider when deciding to actually get started. In this article, I'm going to take you through each of those step-by-step in order to remove as much confusion and potential information overload as possible.
First Things First
The first decision you need to make is what kind of detecting you want to do. A lot of people think that all metal detecting is the same, but in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
There are a variety of specialized types of metal detecting and the decision you make regarding which one’s you'll be doing will determine all the other decisions you'll need to make. Things such as the kind of detector you should buy, what kind of things you can expect to find, the locations you should look in, and even the accessories you'll need will all vary depending on your choice.
Here is a quick list of the kinds of metal detecting that you can actually dc?
If you're interested in looking for relics from the different periods such as the Medieval, Roman, Celtic, and the American Civil War, then you might consider relic hunting.
If you're interested in looking for specifically coins from different periods in the local parks and old house sites you might consider coin shooting.
Water & Beach Detecting
If you like walking the beach looking for lost jewelry, Lost coins, Lost hotel keys, etc. and for like getting into the surf and searching just barely under the water, then you might consider water or beach detecting.
If you simply like looking for gold and nothing more, then you might want to consider gold prospecting. Now that you know what kinds of detecting you can do, it's important to choose the right kind of detecting machine.
Choosing Your Metal Detector
After deciding on the type of metal detecting you'll be doing, you'll need to decide on what type of detector you're going to buy. This is usually the part that causes many of the new hobbyists the most grief. There are just so many choices. This can actually be simplified pretty easily however with some minor education.
Basically, there are your normal detectors such as the Musketeer Advantage for complete beginners and the E-Track for those who have a bit more experience, but then there's also what we call “specialist machines” such as the underwater metal detector like the Excalibur 2. If you're in a gold area where there are likely to be hordes, then you can go for a PI machine like the GPX 4500.
Again, you first have to decide what type of detecting you want to do and then choose the best detector for that type of detecting.
Now there's more to metal detecting than just owning a detector. You'll also need a good set of quality accessories. Things such as a good pair of gloves will help keep your hands clean and also prevent you from cutting yourself one sharp objects.
You'll also need a battery pack. Spare batteries will definitely come in handy. Can you imagine driving all the way up to your detecting site, pulling out your metal detector, switching it on, and... nothing? That would probably ruin your day. A spare battery pack will save you a lot of aggravation.
Also, you should have a good pair of quality headphones. Not only will they extend your battery life, but they will allow you to hear more signals and find more items as well. It’s recommended to use a pair of over-the-ear headphones as opposed to earbud headphones, but ultimately, the decision should be made based off of which allows you more sound clarity.
The next accessory to add to your arsenal is a Finds Pouch. This will go around your waist or where ever you'd like to wear it. In it, you can carry things you find, bits of rubbish, and other things that you are going to take that home with you. The size of your Finds Pouch should be based on the items you plan on searching for. Obviously, the bigger the items are likely to be, the bigger the pouch.
Of course, you'll need to actually be able to retrieve the items you detect. For that, you should carry a small, compact shovel with you. You can easily purchase one of these online or from your local hardware shop. That pretty much covers the basic accessories that you are going to need. Next, you have to determine where you should be detecting and digging.
Where to Detect?
Now that you've gotten your metal detector and all your accessories in order, you’re probably going to ask yourself: Where should I go out and use these? The answer to this question will be based on what you're trying to find.
If for instance, you're trying to find 19th-century coins, you'll need to go to places where people gathered in the 19th century like beaches and parks to find them. However, if you'd rather be searching for and finding relics such as Civil War objects and Roman artifacts, then you'll need to find those types of sites. Decide what you want to find and then get out there and start searching.
One of the most important things to point out regarding metal detecting is always asked for permission. You should never assume you have permission even if the site is considered public like a public park or public recreational area. There still may be local laws that prohibit detecting, so you should always check that before you go out and start.
The old adage, “It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission” does not apply here. When you're detecting, you're representing the hobby. You want to make sure you always follow the law and respect people's private property. Always make sure you ask for permission. Doing so can save you a lot of court fines.
As you begin detecting in your chosen area, you should be mindful of what's known as your “coil technique”. You want to make sure that your coil technique is as good as possible in order to increase the chances of finding what's in the ground.
A bad example of coil technique is touching the ground or only coming close to the ground right in the middle of your swing and coming up on the end of it. This is called “UFOing” and it's a very bad thing to do. What you should do is swing parallel to the ground at all times. Your coil never comes up on the end of the swing at all. You should be detecting using a half circle motion.
This will allow you to cover a lot more ground than if you were doing a back-and-forth motion while walking straight ahead. So, definitely pay attention to your coil technique. If you remember to stay parallel to the ground while covering as much ground as possible, you're almost guaranteed to increase your chances of finding more things.
Recovering a Find
This is a pretty simple and straight forward section that doesn't require much information. When you actually have discovered an item and it's time to dig it up, remember to dig around the item as opposed to directly on top of it.
You don’t want to leave a bunch of holes all over the place when metal detecting, so it best to try and simply dig a little flap around the object that can simply be lifted up or flipped back. After retrieving the item, simply replace the flap. If done correctly, it'd be almost impossible to tell that piece of earth was ever dug up. The use of this method depends solely on where you're digging.
Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting - Videos
The Wrap Up
Hopefully, this information has taken a lot of the confusion out of how to get started with the hobby of metal detecting and the items you'll need. Just remember to keep in mind where you're going to be searching and what you're going to be searching for when choosing. You can easily obtain more information to help you along your journey by doing a simple search online or visiting your local book stores. Oh, and it'd be nice if you could slide a little percentage our way when you discover all of your riches.