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 Metal Detecting Tips & Techniques

Read about how to correctly use a metal detector for the beginner,
and tips for the advanced on prospecting and coinshooting.

General Techniques For Metal Detector Operation
Operating a metal detector to achieve the best performance from it and to increase the likelihood of finding targets requires
some basic and easily learned skills. The following is a description of the basic operating techniques for the metal detector.

Sweepingsweeping a metal detector

The most basic detecting technique and the first that operators need to master is sweeping. This is the moving of the search
coil from side to side across the ground in order to find buried targets.
This diagram shows the sweeping motion and illustrates how the ground area is covered.
When sweeping, you should:

1. Slightly overlap each sweep so as not to miss any targets. correct way to sweep a metal detector

2. Keep the search coil parallel to the ground at all times to prevent the loss of detection of deep targets.
Operators sometimes have a tendency to lift the coil at the end of each sweep. Where possible this should be avoided because
it will cause a loss of detection depth.
Whilst sweeping, do not forget to listen for signals, especially faint ones. Beginners often dig only the very loud target signals
when in fact the faint signals may be a deep or small target.

Pinpointing the Target


Pinpointing with a metal detectorOnce you have detected a target, you can avoid digging a large hole by pin
pointing the exact location of the target.
Use the following method for pinpointing using a Double D search coil. Due to the nature of the Double D search coil, the
strongest detection is achieved along a straight line from heel to toe through the center of the coil.

When the target is detected along the sweep line, draw a line at right angels to it, through the center of the coil.
Turn 90 and move along the line just drawn until you detect the target again.
Again, draw a line through the center of the search coil. Where the two lines meet is where the targe lies.

Digging the Object
Once you have pin-pointed the target, clear the surface material and check the hole again for the signal. If there is no signal,
then the target is amongst the surface material. In this case, search the area until you have located the target.
If, however, the signal is still there, remove a few inches of soil from the surface of the ground. If the target in not visible, sweep
the coil over the hole again. The signal should become louder. If it does continue your digging.
Take care of how you dig. A swift blow to an object with a pick could deface a valuable coin or split a piece of gold in two.
If the object is not clearly visible you might need to scan the soil which has been dug up, so be sure to pile the soil carefully
whilst digging. There are two methods of scanning this soil:
Spread the soil out, then sweep the coil over it to locate the target. (Be sure that there is no object buried in the ground below
the soil).
Lay the coil on its side near the hole. Pick up a handful of soil from the pile and pass it across the coil. If there is no signal then
place the soil in a second pile away from the first and grab another handful of soil. Continue this process until you receive a
signal; the target is now in you hand. Sift through the soil until the object is located.
Once the target has been recovered it is a good idea to run the detector over the hole again to make sure that there are no other targets to be found.
Once a target has been found, there is a high chance that more targets are close by, so it is advisable to search the surrounding
area extremely carefully.
Some like to use pinpointers. there are many on the market.
Remember, always refill any holes dug.

General Metal Detecting Tips
Once you have mastered the basic operational techniques, you can move onto more advanced techniques. I've been detecting
for almost 20 years and these are just a few of the tips I've picked up over the years.
Good research is invaluable in locating good productive sites. Remove all rubbish targets as you search (saves you discovering
them again!) and always obtain permission to detect areas - never assume its OK.
Always swing the coil low and slow. Most modern detectors use microprocessors so if you lift the coil at the end of your sweep,
vary the coil height above the ground, or vary your sweep speed, you'll get random noises as the microprocessor tries to keep up
 with your actions.
If you swing too fast, you may miss targets. The detector may not respond as quickly as you expect or you might not hear the
target signal because it's duration is too brief.
Slow down and give your detector time to evaluate targets.
Some people will tell you to buy expensive headphones because they are the best, but my experience is that this is not always
the case. There are many medium-priced headphones available around the world that are quite adequate for the job. Remember,
you are not listening to a symphony orchestra! It's probably more important to wear a comfortable set that you like the sound of.
It is very important to study your instruction manual and understand your detector. Time spent practising and playing around
 with your machine is time well spent.Try joining a local metal detecting club as most members have a wealth of information
about detectors and local areas. Invariably they are good company and receptive to new chums.
One of the most commonly asked questions is how high to set discriminator controls. Firstly, assess the area to be searched,
then set the discriminator to reject the surface rubbish. Remember that if you set the discriminator to eliminate drink caps/tabs
you may also miss 9ct rings with broken bands, so don't worry if you dig up some junk, at least you won't reject good targets -
better safe than sorry!
If you want to search on beach-sand or in shallow water, you'll need a unit that can operate in salt-laden environments. Most
Pulse Induction units will be O.K., but BBS units are best. You'll also require a non-buoyant, submersible coil (BBS 1000 coil
is a good example).
If the control unit is not waterproof it will need to be removable so that you can operate it from a bag on your waist or chest.
Most manufacturer's don't guarantee their units against water/salt ingress or corrosion, so be sensible and careful - a plastic
grocery bag is very useful in case of rain or seaspray.
Always wash shafts and coils in fresh water after use. A small paint brush is handy to remove sand from control box faces and
knobs etc. Treat your detector with respect and it will give you many happy (and hopefully profitable) hours of hunting.
Detecting, to some degree, is a state of mind. If you are comfortable and happy within yourself, you will be more relaxed and
patient, and your finds will probably improve. Wear comfortable clothing and most importantly, set out to enjoy yourself!

Advanced Coin & Treasure Hunting Tips With a Metal Detector
Coin, relic and treasure hunting at the beach, in the park, in a field, or around an old homestead can be one of the most
rewarding forms of metal detecting.Throughout the world there are metal objects that have been buried for centuries.
Treasure hunters around the world consistently unearth relics from the past such as old buttons, badges, belt-buckles, US
civil war memorabilia, and Roman artifacts.
These can be extremely valuable items, some worth many thousands of dollars.
Decimal, pre-decimal and Roman coins are found scattered throughout Europe, Spanish Doubloons and pieces of Eight are
often found on the beaches of the USA.

Where to Hunt

You must hunt in well patronized areas such as beaches,parks, showgrounds or picnic areas. Your own backyard may even
yield valuable treasure. Consider the age of your home and who may have lived there in the past.

  1. Your Own Backyard

It was common practice many years ago to bury large amounts of money and valuables in the backyard for safekeeping. Rings
and other jewellery are lost while gardening, including diamond wedding rings or gold necklaces. These were often lost before
the invention of metal detectors and lie in your garden waiting to be discovered.
The porch is a great place to sit and drink lemonade on a warm night, however many a coin dropped from a pocket and fell through
the cracks in the floorboards.

  1. The Beach

The beach is one of the best places to hunt for coins and treasure because of:
The large number of people who go to the beach.
The nature of sand and how easily small objects are lost. Fingers shrink in the cold water and rings slip off, while watches and
other jewellery get loosened by waves.
The ease of retrieving objects from the sand.
Beaches are easily accessible to most people living near the coast.

  1. Join a Club

Most metal detecting clubs have regular treasure-hunting trips or field days. Coin and treasure hunts are regular events with the
club "seeding" a designated area with tokens and giving contestants a time limit to recover as many tokens as possible. Prizes
are often quite substantial, it helps the detector operator improve their skills and can be a lot of fun for all family members.

  1. Other Places *

Parks and playgrounds
Ghost Towns
School yards and ovals
Picnic areas
Abandoned homes
Abandoned buildings
Gold Mining sites
Camping grounds
Roman sites
Sports grounds
Swimming pool areas

Advanced Gold Prospecting Tips
Once you have mastered the basic techniques of operating a gold detector, there are a number of more advanced techniques
and tips that will help you increase your gold finds.


Research is one of the most important techniques for increasing your gold finds. It is essential to research an area before prospecting.
Research will guide you to the best
gold producing areas within a particular region.
Your research should consist of reviewing old records from a region, viewing maps, reading books, talking to local people and
finally checking local libraries, information centres and historical societies.
Research can be 90% of your success. Remember that it doesn't matter how good your gold detector is, if you're not in a
gold producing area then you have no chance of finding gold.

Types of Gold Producing Areas.

There are a number of types of goldfields, each distinctly unique:-
Virgin Ground: This is an area of ground which was never worked by the old-time prospectors. This may have been because
the area was not rich enough to warrant the labour or was just not ever discovered.
Surfacing: This is where large areas of ground have been removed from several inches to several feet deep.
These are usually located in shallow ground areas, can be easily recognised and were areas of rich gold deposits in their day.
Shallow Diggings: This is where the gold rushes of the early 1850s took place. Small, shallow shafts were dug with picks
and shovels, the gold-bearing gravel on the bottom was then processed. These tended to follow the lowest points in an area
like gullies. These are very fertile prospecting areas and generally the old miners discarded more gold than they found.
Deep Leads: These are ancient river beds that over time have been buried. These are both "deep" deep leads and "shallow"
deep leads. When detecting deep deep leads, search only the mullock heaps. When detecting shallow deep leads, search
both the mullock heaps and the ground in between.


There are a number of advanced techniques that will help you to increase your gold yield in an area, while also help you to
remember an area's location.
Gridding: This technique involves dividing an area into a number of small grids and thoroughly detecting each grid slowly
and methodically. In dry country, it is common to see detector operators dragging a chain behind them so they can easily see
the line of their last sweep.
Marking: This involves tying coloured ribbons or string to trees to mark an area where you have previously found gold. Also
try to mark these spots on maps to ensure that you can return to them at a later date. The use of pocket-size Global
Positioning Systems (GPS) can be used to plot and store your position to within a few meters.

Happy Hunting.
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