So You Want To Take Up Metal Detecting
Why metal detect?
First of all forget about any get rich quick ideas you may have about metal detecting. A lot of people read in a newspaper or see on television reports about a large treasure hoard just been found in a field by a metal detectorist and think that all they have to do is buy a metal detector and go out and find some treasure themselves. Its not a bit like it, hence 2-3 months after a treasure find report you see a lot of metal detectors for sale on a well known internet auction site. Finding treasure soon after buying your first metal detector is very very rare but don't get me wrong, it can happen and has happened. Be prepared to only find bottle tops, pull tabs, rusty beer and coke cans and silver foil. You may be lucky enough at first to find some decimal coins and some older pennies from just before decimalization and other quite interesting modern things, its these finds that will tell if you get 'hooked' into the hobby.
Gone are the days where metal detecting was looked upon as an old man's hobby, young and old alike can reap the benefits of detecting, it can be a family affair and there are a few good benefits that come to mind. It can be a peaceful hobby, out in the countryside or on a beach, breathing in all that fresh air, soaking up the scenery all around you, even getting some good exercise by walking and digging. Its fun and certainly will get you more interested in history and your countries heritage.
One of the many things I enjoy about metal detecting is the anticipation of what's under the coil as it beeps. It's a great and wonderful feeling as to what it could be and until that moment you dig it and see, it could be a coin, a lovely buckle or button, or some other interesting thing, if its another bottle top I think oh well, it could have been, pop it in my trash bag, fill in the hole neatly and look for the next beep. You just don't know what will turn up.
As I said above, you will find loads of trash but with patience and a bit of dedication metal detecting can be profitable. When I first started metal detecting I paid £180 for a cheap entry machine and can say within three months the machine paid for itself just by finding modern decimal coinage. Those lost pound coins, 50ps, 20ps, 10ps and 5ps soon mount up. I put the hours in mind, not just a trip out every Sunday afternoon. I soon found at the very beginning I had a real passion for metal detecting and was out swinging my machine at every opportunity I could get.
Above are some good reasons to take up metal detecting and you may have a good idea if its for you. Read on for more information and tips to get you started.
Before you buy
Before you buy your first machine there are a few things you should think about. First up metal detectors cost anywhere between £20 and £3,000. In my opinion the low cost machines around the £20 to £80 that you can buy in toy shops are just that, toys. Buying one of these as a starter machine will soon get you disheartened with the hobby of metal detecting and it won't be long before its put in that cupboard under the stairs to gather dust. Expect to pay around £150 to £200 for a good entry machine that does find stuff. Remember, advertisers of companies as in all things are out to sell their wares and word everything like its everything you want. So if you see an ad for a £30.00 metal detector saying its deep seeking and will find you more treasure that other more expensive machines can find then be aware. I've tried these cheap machines and believe me if I thought that these cheap machines found more than a more expensive one then I could have saved myself £1,170.00.
Yes, my latest machine cost me £1,200.00, that's how passionate I am about metal detecting. You don't have to pay that much, nowhere near that much. I've worked my way up to this high end machine through part-exchanging other machines to find a machine I wanted and am comfortable with. Let me tell you something, my very first decent machine cost me £180.00 and I found just as much with it as I am now finding with my more expensive machine. Its just that this more expensive one does go a little deeper and has more 'bells and whistles' and is perfect for my needs. Its the 'bells and whistles' that cost.
Also consider the following:
Where will you be using it. The hardest part of detecting is finding land to use it on. All land in the UK is owned by someone and to save being prosecuted permission must be sought from the landowner.
How much time do you think you will spend metal detecting. If you plan to detect a lot of hours a week then go for a machine that has more features than a machine where you will only be spending the odd few hours on a Sunday. The more features a machine has the more it will cost so if its just a bit of fun you want then go for a basic machine..
What is your budget. Remember as well as buying the machine itself, there will be other costs for accessories you may need like headphones, digging spade, beach scoop, control box rain covers and batteries.
Where do you intend to use it. If you live on the coast a machine for beach detecting maybe a good choice for you. There are machines specially designed for wet sand detecting called PI machines (Pulse Induction).
Some machines are designed for inland detecting and they also perform well on the dry sand of a beach, but on the wet sand they can be hopeless. There are a some machines that will do both, inland and wet sand. So keep this in mind before you buy.
Do you want a basic switch on and go machine, or do you want more features.
Consider the weight of a machine, some are heavier than others and will affect how long you can detect.
Decide if you want to buy brand new or second hand. Weigh up the pro's and con's.
Join a metal detecting forum on line. There you will meet fellow detectorists who will give you unbiased advice on all aspects of metal detecting.
Read reviews on the internet to give you some idea what controls a machine has and what they do.
There is no 'perfect' machine that does it all, if there was we'd all have one. No one machine suits everyone, there is a vast range out there. Think about a machine that will meet your own needs.
Buying your first machine.
As I said above, forget about buying one of those cheap metal detectors in toy shops. Expect to pay around £150 for a good basic starting machine that will find you stuff.
Don't get caught in the money trap. A £300 machine can perform as good as a £600 machine. Just the latter has more 'bells and whistles' and that's what you pay for. Ok if you want more bells and whistles mind.
If buying new, buy from a reputable dealer. That way you will have a warranty on the machine with good after sales service.
Best to buy within your own country just in case of problems that can occur with machines and need to be returned.
Some machines are switch on and go, others need setting up and programing. How good are you at modern technology.
Check out the kHz ratings in the specifications on different machines. Basically, the normal kHz rates for our detectors are 3 kHz to 19 kHz. The lower end say 3-6 kHz machines are better at finding larger and thicker coins and are not effected so much by ground mineralisation, but the recovery speed is slower. The higher end say 16 kHz-19 kHz are better at finding small thin coins and the recovery speed is faster. The middle range 7 kHz - 15 kHz are neither the fastest or the deepest, but do not suffer from some of the problems of the other two ranges. In fact, this middle range kHz are responsible for most of the finds ever made.
When there is a news report of a hoard of treasure found, sales of metal detectors rocket. Then a couple of months down the line you will see sales of metal detectors on internet auction sites rise. The reason for this is because a lot of people think they to can hit the 'Mother Load', all they need is a metal detector and get out there and find it. Within a couple of months of just finding pull tabs, bottle tops, silver paper and all sorts of other trash they soon get fed up and think this is not for me and try to re-sell their detectors to get some of their money back. OK, not so long ago there was a story published about a chap who within 20 minutes of his first ever detecting trip hit a hoard of coins worth a fortune, it has happened, but, its on par with winning the lottery. Some detectorists have been in the hobby for 20-30 years and have never even found one gold coin, let alone a hoard.So, if you do really want to take up metal detecting, think about these few things first.
Using your new machine.
Now the day has come when your new machine arrives and you set it up.. Don't rush out detecting willy nilly to test it. First you have to understand it and see what it does, read the instructions and then the best place for testing is in your own garden. Do a test bed and bury a few coins a couple of inches deep and sweep over them and listen to the signals. Then bury some trashy stuff like a bottle top, nail or a rusty bit of iron. Listen to the different signals and get used to the controls.
Now you can go out proper detecting. Try and find an area that's not overloaded with signals as that will drive you barmy. Find a field or the dry sand of a beach, that will be less contaminated making it easier to learn.
Keep your machine in All Metal Mode for a while and dig every signal. That way you will see what the different sounding signals are relating to which objects. You can slowly learn the discrimination and sensitivity controls later.
Don't expect finds every time you go out. You will have bad finds days like us all. The usual pattern is at first you will spend hours only finding trash items, drink cans, old rusty iron, silver paper, bottle tops or maybe an odd decimal coin or two. Then as you get more experienced, amongst the trash you start finding average finds like old pennies, buckles, buttons or some other artifacts. These are finds that inspire you and before long your finding nice old coins, interesting artifacts, great pieces of history. Then one day, you dig up something that makes you feel total excitement, I mean real excitement to get you dancing and that's the hint of silver and gold.
Keep your coil as low to the ground as possible. If your swinging your coil three inches above the ground, you are losing three inches depth under the ground.
Remember: Slow and Low. From my own experience and confirmed by many detectorists slow and low is the way to go. At first when you start the instinct you get is to race around like a headless chicken trying to cover the field as fast as you can trying to find stuff, then after half an hour you think there's nothing in this field and try another one. You can miss a huge amount of ground like that, also a lot of finds.
One way that's accepted is on a new field do the Union Jack method. Detect all around the edges and then detect corner to corner. On a large field split it into sections by taking notice of any markers like gates, trees etc on the fields edges. If you hit any hot spots, cover that area well.
Once your up and running.
Now you have been using your metal detector for a little while I bet the detecting bug has really bitten you like it did me and you just can't wait to get out there 'swinging' again. Don't expect too much at first, it took me a couple of weeks before I found my first coin, and try not to get dispondant after a few outings of finding nothing worthwhile. Every detectorist get bad days but along comes a good day to re-inspire you again. Its the anticipation of that signal that drives us on and what better feeling to hold a real piece of history in your hands that no one has seen since the day it was lost hundreds of years ago, even thousands.
Below are pictures of my best two coins to date. One is gold and the other is silver. The gold one is an American Liberty Head Half Eagle Five Dollar Gold Coin, dated 1903, I found this one in the UK in May 2013 which was a lovely surprise. The silver one is a Charles the Bold Doubled Patard Silver Hammered Coin. Date 1466 - 1477 found February 2013.
Metal Detecting And Your Health.
Thinking about my last detecting session a few days ago, I was out for a good seven hours solid detecting. I stopped a few times for a drink or chat, but add that time up and I bet it came to about half an hour. So I could say I was walking, stooping, digging, refilling holes and carrying and swinging my machine and also carrying my backpack solid for six and a half hours.Think about it, would you walk about your town for 4-6 hours a day as you know walking is good for you. How boring that would be, yet, shove a metal detector in our hands and we'll walk about till the cows come home.
This makes you wonder how healthy metal detecting can be for us. Lets have a look at the good points, this is a list I have come up with.
Hobbies are good for you, its a well known fact. Just google the sentence, "Why are hobbies good for you", and you will be inundated with sites explaining why. Showing you all the benefits for your mind, body and well being in a scientific way discovered by medical studies.
The hobby of metal detecting can be a solitary or a social hobby. You can switch between the two as and when you like.
Metal detecting takes you outdoors. Mostly we detect out in the open countryside or a beach. All that lovely fresh air we breath in and if its sunny, our bodies are getting much needed Vitamin D. I found out that our bodies can't store Vitamin D so we need to get it from food we eat or the sun. This Vitamin is very important for our health and mood.
Metal detecting encourages you to get moving and walk. We've been told how important it is to move so while your out detecting, walking, climbing, stooping, carrying gear, you are doing a good aerobic exercise and toning up your body.
Metal detecting can be quiet and peaceful. Your out detecting and concentrating, not thinking about all the everyday worries and stresses going on in the world. You're in a little world of your own. Now that's got to be like a form of yoga, giving your mind a rest and helping to relieve stress.
We are always being told by our doc's to live a more healthy lifestyle and us detectorists have found the perfect way. So next time your out detecting think about how your health is benefiting and if you do get a nice find, well, its a bonus.
More metal detecting information.
For a lot more metal detecting information and to see my finds from every hunt please visit my Blog at http://janner53.blogspot.co.uk/