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Learning Your New Metal Detector

I am so often adding a new metal detector to my arsenal that it is to the point that I have to hide it from my wife. I have metal detectors stashed everywhere from under the bed to behind clothes in the closet. Even the kids are sick of my obsession and from time to time run across metal detectors stowed away in their rooms. I can however proudly say I only hoard metal detectors!

Currently I only have one metal detector that I have not had a chance to pick up and use yet. I wouldn’t say I am an expert on every metal detector I own but I know them all and how to run them efficiently.

Although this article is geared toward someone new to the hobby, I’m amazed at how many experienced detectorists struggle to learn a new machine. I know of detectorists in this hobby who are experts on the single detector they run but  with anything else in their hands they are completely lost.

It’s important when starting out in this hobby to learn your machine. Although metal detectors are becoming more versatile, if you’re a serious detectorist you should know there are detectors suited better for different jobs.

I used to fall into the group that “it’s better to know one metal detector really good than to own several machines and not know any of them.” Truth be told, I fell into that category because I struggled to understand any of the other metal detectors I tried to use and more often than not I would give up way to soon.

It was not until I took the time to start understanding that the settings of metal detectors changed how the metal detector functioned. The more I researched and changed the settings and used the metal detector myself, the more I understood. The thing is that most metal detectors share the same basic functions and although each metal detector has its own characteristics, I found that by knowing the basic functions I could quickly learn the intricacies of each new machine.

Here you can find a link to metal detecting terminology and basic functions.

Learning Your New Metal Detector

Whether you’re brand new to the hobby or a seasoned relic hunter, I suggest finding a park with a lot of targets. Most likely you will find modern trash and coins, but this is where I always start with a new metal detector.

I consider myself a relic hunter and I have little interest in finding new coins and trash, but what a park offers me is many, shallow targets to start learning my new metal detector. Before the metal detector ever leaves the house though, I like to familiarize myself with the manual. I do not read page per page, rather I skim over it ensuring I know how to navigate the controls in case I feel they need changed while I am out in the field.

Now that I have skimmed through the manual and I have a general idea on how to navigate it, I will head to the park to start really learning it. The first thing I do is throw a coin on the ground and start pinpointing it to make sure I know exactly where the center of the coil is for pinpointing.

I will scan slowly, listen to the tones, and watch what numbers appear on the screen. Starting out I won’t dig anything that jumps a lot or doesn’t repeat really good each time I swing over it. When I feel like I have a signal worth digging, I will keep scanning over it, close my eyes and listen. I don’t try to memorize it or anything I just want to listen to it and take note. I will then keep swinging over the target while watching the numbers on the screen. Taking note if they jump around slightly, what number am I seeing the most of etc.

Once I have done this I will pinpoint and dig it. I will make sure to take a moment to pinpoint it and make a good mental note of where that is so I should not be off. If I am off, I will note that and try to adjust where the center of my coil is again.  I will then try to remember the target and what sound and numbers it provided but this takes time, it takes digging several of the same before you really start picking it up.

It’s also important to note that I dig everything that repeats and numbers aren’t too jumpy. This many years of metal detecting on several different metal detectors I will have a good idea whether I’m in the junk range or good range but I still dig everything to verify and learn my new metal detector.

After a few hours of metal detecting, I will go home and read through the manual, concentrating on questions that arose from metal detecting that day. I will refer back to the manual many more times and will often read it a few times and certain parts of it several times before I consider myself a master on that metal detector.

Depending on the metal detector and how complex it is, it might take me months to fully understand it. More often than not I’m pretty proficient with it after just a few times out. Once I start understanding what it’s telling me at parks and I’m starting to recognize targets simply by sound or the numbers, then I will start taking it to different sites and dialing it in for whatever kind of metal detecting I’m doing.

It is a long process, especially to master a complex metal detector. It takes basic understanding of how a metal detector works and hours upon hours on that metal detector learning the characteristics and how to adjust it for different conditions.

Short Cuts Learning to Metal Detect

Because of the internet and so much information just a click away, so many people are losing the ability to learn for themselves. They get a new metal detector, rush out to YouTube and see what settings their favorite video maker is running on their metal detector.

There are so many problems with this. First, I could not tell you how many times I’ve come across people eager to share their settings that aren’t what I would consider ideal for what they are doing. Many times, they did the same thing you’re doing, relying on what someone else advised them on how to set up their metal detector! Let’s say the person did take the time to not only learn their metal detector but they

understand the basic settings and how to make changes to optimize it’s performance. In many cases they are hunting in different conditions. We are also all different, our reaction time to signals, our hearing, our site, and what works for one person might not work for you.

In the end it comes down to, do you want to be an ok detectorist or do you want to learn your metal detector the right way and get the most out of it because there are no shortcuts. The good news is though, if you put in just a handful of hours, possibly digging targets that you do not enjoy and a little reading, you will be ahead of so many people. It still amazes me how many people, even seasoned detectorists who although in most hunting conditions they are great with their metal detector do not know how to make the adjustments for when the ground conditions change or a particular site throws them a curve ball and struggle.

If you want to get the most out of metal detecting one of the most important aspects is knowing your metal detector inside and out. Knowing its language, its weaknesses, and where it excels. When you understand your metal detector and metal detectors in general, you will ensure you get the most out of your metal detecting experience!


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