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A Beginners Guide to Metal Detecting

A Beginners Guide to Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is a fascinating hobby that combines the thrill of treasure hunting with the joy of exploring the great outdoors. Whether you’re searching for historical artifacts, coins, jewelry, or relics, metal detecting offers an adventurous way to spend your leisure time. And it's a relatively inexpensive hobby with the chance of literally finding gold! I am still a beginner in this world but I quickly realized how much fun metal detecting can be, especially if you live in an older part of the country. Here in the Northeast there are many areas full of history and artifacts that have yet to be explored. Below you will find some helpful tips to assist you in getting started with metal detecting, a list that I compiled and would like to share with you and hope that you get involved in this fun and exciting hobby!

1. Understanding the BasicsWhat is Metal Detecting?   

- Metal detecting involves using a metal detector to locate metal objects buried underground. The device emits an electromagnetic field and detects changes caused by metallic objects.Why Choose Metal Detecting?   

- It's an outdoor activity that combines exercise, history, and the thrill of discovery. 

 - You can uncover valuable items, historical artifacts, and even lost personal treasures.   

- It’s relatively inexpensive to start and can be done solo or with a group.

2. Choosing the Right Metal DetectorTypes of Metal Detectors:   

- VLF (Very Low Frequency): Ideal for beginners, these detectors are versatile and can be used for coin shooting, relic hunting, and beach detecting.   

- PI (Pulse Induction): Best for detecting in highly mineralized soils such as beaches, but they can be more expensive and complex.   

- Multi-Frequency: These detectors operate on multiple frequencies simultaneously and are suitable for various types of detecting.

Key Features to Consider:   - Discrimination: Helps you differentiate between different types of metals.   

- Ground Balance: Adjusts the detector to ignore mineralization in the soil. 

- Sensitivity: Determines how deep the detector can find objects.   

- Coil Size: Larger coils cover more ground but smaller coils are better for detecting in cluttered areas.Recommended Models for Beginners:   

- Garrett ACE 300   - Fisher F22   - Minelab Vanquish 340

3. Essential Gear and AccessoriesBasic Gear:   

- Metal Detector   - Headphones (to hear faint signals)   

- Digging Tools (hand trowel, digging knife)   

- Pinpointer (to locate objects more precisely)   

- Finds Pouch (to carry your discoveries)Optional Gear:   

- Sand Scoop (for beach detecting)   

- Knee Pads (for comfort while digging)   - Backpack (to carry your gear)   

- Gloves (to protect your hands)

4. Learning How to Use Your Metal Detector

Read the Manual:   

- Start by thoroughly reading the user manual that comes with your metal detector. Familiarize yourself with its features and settings. Practice in Your Backyard:   

- Bury different metal objects at various depths to practice detecting and identifying signals. This will help you understand how your detector responds to different metals and conditions.

Join a Metal Detecting Club: 

- Many areas have local metal detecting clubs where you can learn from experienced detectorists, share tips, and participate in group hunts.Online


- Watch tutorial videos on YouTube. 

- Join online forums and communities like the Friendly Metal Detecting Forum or Reddit’s r/metaldetecting.

5. Finding Good Detecting SpotsResearch:   

- Historical Research: Libraries, old maps, and local historical societies can provide information on old homesteads, battlefields, and other historic sites.   

- Online Resources: Websites like can help you find old maps and aerial photos.Public Places:   

- Parks, beaches, and schools are popular spots for metal detecting. Always check local regulations before detecting.Private Property:   

- Always seek permission from property owners before detecting on private land. Be respectful and leave the area as you found it.

Metal Detecting Etiquette:   

- Fill in your holes after digging.   

- Remove and dispose of trash.   - Respect wildlife and natural habitats.

6. Interpreting Signals and DiggingInterpreting Signals:   

- Learn to differentiate between different tones and signals. High-pitched tones usually indicate valuable metals, while low-pitched tones may indicate iron or trash.   

- Use the discrimination and sensitivity settings to fine-tune your detector for the best results.

Proper Digging Techniques:   

- Use a digging tool to cut a neat plug of grass and soil and place it on a cloth.   

- Search the hole and the plug with your pinpointer to locate the object.   

- Carefully replace the plug and tamp it down to leave no trace of your digging.

7. Cleaning and Preserving Your Finds

Cleaning Coins and Relics:   

- Gently rinse with water and use a soft brush for initial cleaning. 

- Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage valuable items.   

- For valuable or delicate finds, consult a professional conservator.

Storing Finds:   

- Store your finds in a dry, safe place. Use coin holders, display cases, or shadow boxes to protect and showcase your treasures.

8. Legal and Ethical Considerations

Know the Laws:   

- Research and follow local, state, and federal laws regarding metal detecting. Some areas may require permits or have restrictions on detecting in certain locations.

Respect Cultural Heritage:   

- Avoid detecting on protected archaeological sites or historic landmarks without proper authorization.

Be a Responsible Detectorist:   

- Always practice ethical detecting by respecting property rights, filling in holes, and properly disposing of trash.

9. Join the Metal Detecting Community

Local Clubs and Groups:   

- Joining a local metal detecting club can provide valuable resources, support, and opportunities to participate in group hunts and events.Online Communities:   

- Engage with fellow detectorists on forums, social media groups, and dedicated websites. Share your finds, ask for advice, and learn from others’ experiences.

10. Keep Learning and Enjoy the Journey

Continuous Learning:   

- Stay updated on the latest metal detecting techniques, equipment, and best practices. Read books, watch videos, and attend workshops or seminars.   

Remember that metal detecting is about the journey, not just the finds. Enjoy the time spent outdoors, the thrill of discovery, and the stories behind the items you uncover.

Metal detecting is a rewarding and exciting hobby that offers endless possibilities for discovery and adventure. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and responsible detectorist. So grab your detector, head out to your favorite spot, and start unearthing the hidden treasures beneath your feet! Happy hunting!

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