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How To Metal Detect: A Beginner's Guide

Updated on June 10, 2011

Want to Find Treasure?

As the proud new owner of a metal detector, you are probably excited and curious as to how to use it. Metal detectors are great pieces of equipment, but you need to know how to use them properly and safely. Otherwise this great hobby won’t be as fun (or as profitable) as it could be. Learn how to start finding your own treasure today!

Don't stress--detecting is supposed to be fun!
Don't stress--detecting is supposed to be fun!

Accessories & Settings

      But before you do anything, there are several accessories that you can’t do without. The first, and most important, of these is a Lesche digging tool. This is a great tool that allows you to dig in a manner that leaves the grass looking as good as it did before you dug into it. Another accessory that’s needed is a sifter, for when you go on the beach. You might want to get a plastic one, so you can detect the treasure through the sifter. There is a vast assortment of them available for sale online. You might also want a kneepad, for when you have to dig in dirty places, and some gloves, in case you are digging in a trashy (and potentially glass-ridden) place. Don’t leave these off your list—you’ll be sorry later.
      When you have all of the supplies you want, it’s time to change your detector’s settings. The first step is to put fresh batteries in the detector (for the best performance), and turn it on. Then you will probably have the choice to discriminate. Discriminating is when you decide whether or not to block out signals from certain metals and items. I would (unless if you’re planning to go relic hunting) discriminate iron right off the bat, so you won’t get a lot of scrap metal on your first hunt. It’s up to you how much you discriminate, just remember that if you block out aluminum, you’re also blocking out gold.
      Then, after you’ve finished that, you can choose your sensitivity. I would recommend about three-quarters of the way up your first time. That way, you won’t miss the old stuff, and you won’t dig a lot of deep trash.
      After that, you’re ready to go out on your first hunt. A park or a beach would be a good place to go. Make sure that you either use headphones or go later in the day, when there are fewer people there. You don’t want to give metal detecting a bad rap.
      Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to detect the treasure! Simply swing the detector horizontally back and forth, moving slowly forward, one step at a time, so as not to miss anything. It’s recommended that your swing back and forth be about two seconds long. Too often I have walked or swung too fast and missed a good find. Also, if you are digging in a public and grassy place, try to keep the plug of soil that you dig as intact as possible.
      Now you’re just about ready! Go out there and find the treasures that people have lost long ago! Always follow the Treasure Hunters’ Code of Ethics. The main thing is to remember that you’re still a beginner, and nobody expects you to be an instant expert. Happy Hunting!


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