I presume you were gifted a metal detector and/or you finally purchased one for yourself. Rock on. It is an awesome hobby. Let’s talk about the things that are super important but often not spoken about to new metal detectorists. There is a lot of how-to metal detecting stuff out there; however, this article will tell you what to do and not to do to help the hobby along.
It isn’t a get-rich hobby; it is a hobby of patience.
First, please return your detector if you think the hobby is easy, you don’t want to take time to learn your machine or think you will get rich quickly finding valuable item after valuable item. Sadly some metal detecting YouTube videos make metal detecting look easy and show cool find-after-find. They don’t show the hours, weeks, and months to understand all aspects of your detector and the amount of trash you dig learning compared to treasures. As a reference point, they say it takes around a year to learn your detector.
Learn to Factory Reset your metal detector; make it your best friend when starting off.
As one learns a new metal detector, especially if they are new to the hobby and pressing buttons while learning their detector, it is imperative you know how to factory reset your machine and do it often while you are learning. Some might argue with me differently, but I feel after learning to turn your machine on and off, the second step one should learn is how to do a factory reset. Why is the factory reset so important? Well, most modern metal detectors are mini-computers and as one presses buttons, they are programming the detector. While learning your new metal detector, you will be pressing many buttons, changing many settings, and probably the wrong ones at first. It is smart to clear out all the button-pushing you have done and start fresh from time-to-time and often during the learning phase. Rick Hunter, a respected beach detectorist from San Diego stated, “I went hunting with a buddy who has a Minelab Equinox 600, and he was complaining about not getting targets. I asked to check his detector over a target I had, and nothing rang up. I looked at his screen and saw that he had notched out about 20 numbers by accident without realizing what it meant. I quickly showed him how to factory reset, and he was so much happier actually getting targets.”
Start in your backyard. Don’t go any further.
Some new metal detectorists run to the beach or park to test out their new detector. The absolute best place to learn is in your backyard. If you don’t have a backyard, ask a family member or buddy who doesn’t have the best grass if you can use theirs. Until you learn to do a proper plug or hole, excavation definitely shouldn’t leave the backyard. While learning in the backyard, throw some coins, old jewelry, pull tab, hairpin, and other metal objects on the ground, and learn the tones, what numbers represent the objects, also known as VDI, and how your metal detector shows you how deep they are. If your metal detector has pinpointing capabilities, get good at it. Then put these same items into the ground two inches and see how the numbers/VDI numbers change. Then dig them down six inches to a foot and see how the numbers/VDI change. Please note to not lose your fine jewelry: tie a string to keep a good location to where it is, if your detector or your abilities to use your detector can’t find it, you will not lose it. Brian Tobias, a veteran relic hunter from Michigan, emphasizes, “The crucial things, learn your detector, learn as much as you can about it, read the Andy Sabisch book (if there is one for your metal detector) watch the videos out there for your detector, swing over coins in your own yard, learn to adjust settings, make it an extension of yourself. Learn what all the buttons do, what all the settings do, decide what is important to change and why before you even leave your backyard. I see more people frustrated and overwhelmed in the field with a new metal detector because of this, and they give up on it because they didn’t learn in their backyard first.”
Keep the hobby in good faith. Definitely read this section.
Why I said in the above paragraph to keep in your backyard. Well, the worst thing for all us detectorists is when park rangers and city officials see dug-up holes that look ugly or not filled in, and metal detecting gets banned for everyone. As they say, it takes one bad apple to ruin it for all of us. Don’t even venture on public land or land permission until you know how to make a nice clean plug/hole, fill it in properly and carry your garbage out. For example, in Southern California, Seal Beach, metal detecting is banned, see Seal Beach Municipal Code 9.05.015 Beachcombing. Why did this happen? Rumor is some metal detectorist didn’t fill in their holes, and someone running along the beach tripped in one of the holes hurting herself badly, so city officials banned metal detecting. The key to the longevity of the hobby is to make nice holes and fill them in.
Yes, carry your garbage out.
The second worst thing to see than holes all over parks and beaches not filled in right is garbage that was dug up beside them or in the hole. There is an unwritten rule in metal detecting, you dig it up, you carry it out, and dispose of it properly. Also, if you think no one is watching, they are. I have had lifeguards come up months later to thank me for the garbage they have seen me clean up months earlier. They told me metal detectorists like myself make their job easier by cleaning up those sharp objects, needles, fish hooks, can slaw, and rusted nails. All of which cut if stepped on by bare feet. Or last weekend, a random man approached me and asked, pointing to me and my detecting buddy, were the same detectorists who detect another park often, stating the exact location we detect, as well recognized my buddy from years ago detect a baseball field he had permission to do so. People watch and remember detectorists. Let’s be role models; fill in our holes and clean up the garbage and do good for the environment.
When you find that first awesome find, don’t yell that you did verbally and/or digitally.
Keep it on the down-low you found it, especially if there are a lot of people there. Detectorists do get robbed. Also, it is just not kosher to yell about it even if you are excited. Ask your detecting buddy or family to come over and quietly show them what you found. As well, keep this in mind so your house doesn’t get robbed and avoid posting the high ticket finds on your personal social media or in public or dodgy social media groups.
Don’t ask in metal detecting forums how to discriminate pull tabs.
Sometimes I see new detectorists think they can discriminate all junk and only make their machine find coins and jewelry. Often they are frustrated at how many pull tabs they are detecting. Well, I have news for you! Those pull tabs and rings can sound closely the same, especially to a new detectorist. There is no machine currently on the market that will discriminate all the junk out. You will be digging garbage to find the jewelry and older coins at beaches and parks.
If you see other detectorists post a photo of a find, don’t do this.
Don’t ever ask them where they found it, what exact beach, park, or property. Don’t ask them if they can tag along on their next hunt. It is one thing asking a trusted metal detecting friend where but asking a stranger you have never detected with or not close with is a no-no and found to be disrespectful in this hobby.
Also, don’t ask in groups or forums for where to metal detect, do your own research.
To be good at metal detecting, you need to research before you walk out the door. Basically, you need to become an amateur historian. Spend time researching where the oldest parks were, where outdoor concerts are or used to be, or other places people gathered. I suggest looking at the article I wrote called Where to Metal Detecting. Another suggestion is to look for older areas. Start with my favorite two sites that are topoView and Historical Aerials, or go to the library or local historical society and ask for aerial maps. It is disrespectful to ask in a local metal detecting forum specific areas to detect or if you can tag along.
I hope the above was helpful and especially took seriously the importance of making sure your holes are made cleanly and filled in. This will help all of us detectorists have places to detect today and into the future. Happy metal detecting, and remember to join Focus Speed’s Facebook Group to ask questions. We have some amazing seasoned detectorists that share advice and please share finds. Also, subscribe to our Newsletter. I look forward to seeing your metal detecting finds.