How to metal detect: Part 3 – Using your detector

Once you’ve acquired all your metal detecting equipment it’s time to get started. If you’re new to the hobby the first step is to learn your metal detector. If it came with a manual it’s a good idea to read it several times to fully understand how your detector works. If the manual is missing you should be able to find one online in PDF format.

Do not skip this step. One of the most common mistakes of newcomers is skipping the manual and going straight to the yard. Reading the manual will save you a lot of frustration in the long run and increase your valuable finds.

The next step is to do some testing. Gather some items such as the following:

  • Old and new coins
  • Various jewelry items
  • Trash such as nails, pull tabs, and bottle caps
  • Lead sinkers, bullets, or other odds and ends

Sweep each item under the coil to learn the various signals. Adjust settings such as discrimination and sensitivity to get a better understanding of how the detector reacts to different targets with various settings. Experiment with discriminating trash and keeping the good signals.

Your first yard woohoo!

Now that you have a basic understanding of how your detector word it’s time to hit the soil. The best place to start is your own yard or that of friends and relatives. Digging holes takes some practice and you’ll be digging a lot of them at first. It’s usually a good idea to start in a preset mode such as coins or jewelry. Dig all the repeatable signals and take a mental note of the sound and digital readings if there’ s an lcd screen. A repeatable signals is simply one that if you sweep your coil over the same spot a second time the target still sounds off in the same exact location. After several hours of detecting you’ll be able to tell good targets from bad ones by how the signal sounds.

Sweep the coil flat on the ground back and forth slowly making sure the coil never leaves the ground, especially at the end of the sweep. A lot of manuals say to keep the coil 1″ off the surface but if you do you’ll be losing an inch of depth. Make sure to buy a coil cover to keep it from being damaged. Walk forward slowly and overlap your sweeps to ensure you’re covering the entire area.

Don’t worry it gets better

Your goal starting out is to dig a LOT of signals. You will dig a ton of trash but this is a process that has to happen. Be patient and expect to dig lots of junk and you’ll steadily learn what your machine is telling you.

Many new metal detectorists expect to just turn the machine on and go find valuables everywhere but it rarely works that way. It takes time and practice to get good at metal detecting but if you hang in there you will learn your machine and start finding lots of cool stuff.

Remember to fill in all your holes good and take all the trash with you. Remove all the items you find out of respect to the next metal detectorist that comes through. Plus you never know when you’ll return to the site again and it would be pretty annoying to keep digging the same junk item. Never leave items on top of the ground or on the sidewalk or driveway. The place should look as good or better than it did when you arrived.

Now that you’re off to the races you’re gonna needs some places to hunt.

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35 Silvers from an old picnic grove.  

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