I still remember the day I bought my very first metal detector and the excitement I felt. To be honest that day was followed up by 2 – 3 months of frustration, while I was learning the ropes through trial and error.
In those days there was very little information available online and certainly no websites which provided a comprehensive list of good metal detecting tips which you are about to read 🙂
Metal detecting has been a huge part of my life for well over a decade and since that time I’ve met and become good friends with a number of diggers.
I’ve also been lucky enough to find some really valuable and interesting items, which has treated my family to some really nice holidays and days out. This, along with my love for the great outdoors has provided me with the motivation to both learn and dig more.
In this article I wanted to provide the newbies among you with some simple metal detecting tips and tricks that will kick start your hunting! While I Can’t guarantee you will make the national news having uncovered a gold chalice from a treasure ship, I can promise putting the below into practice will make life a lot easier and give you an insight into what and what not to expect.
#1 Dig Everything, Even Those “Iffy” Targets
You can expect to find more trash than valuable treasure, particularly as a beginner. While it may become annoying digging up bottle tops, pennies and other trash it’s important you don’t become disheartened and stop digging. Even if you are alerted to an Iffy signal you should dig, at the very least you are eliminating the junk for your next dig at the site.
#2 You Gotta Keep Digging
As I was mentioning earlier metal detecting as a beginner can be frustrating, but persistence is key. You may have 3, 4, even 10 bad hunts that uncover nada and then on the 11th something very very valuable or interesting crosses your path. The more time you spend detecting the more chance you have of finding.
#3 Start Off In Your Backyard Or Nearby
Reading and watching YouTube videos about how to operate your metal detector is fine, but your only really going to get to grips by practicing and trail and error. There’s absolutely no point in traveling miles and miles for your first couple of hunts, the main priority should be to dig close to home and get to grips with the settings and alerts. PS You might be surprised at what you find in your backyard!
#4 Protect What You Find
Some of the valuable things you find may be extremely delicate and fragile. I’d advise you take a tobacco tin or soap box every time you go out. Imagine how disappointing it would be if you scratched or damaged something valuable.
#5 Do Your Best Rain Dance
Going out hunting after rain is a valuable metal detecting tip any beginner should take note of. The wet ground improves conductivity, making it easier to find the most deeply buried targets. Even though you may think you have bought the best metal detector within your budget you need to make sure you have at the very least a waterproof device.
#6 Don’t Necessarily Believe Everything You Are Told!
When I first started out, I was shocked at the rivalry and the lengths some diggers would go to to put you off a particular site. If you are told somewhere is hunted out, I’d take it with a pich of salt and go see for yourself.
#7 Do Your Homework
After you have got to grips with your metal detector and decide it’s time to venture further a field than your backyard it’s important you do your homework. Use the internet to your advantage or maybe even visit the library to learn more about historic places in your town or city, chances are they would be a good site for a mornings hunting.
#8 Avoid Busy Areas & Times
If I had to provide a single beach metal detecting tip it would be to hunt during a quiet time. If your working any site with a high footfall chances are you are either going to start annoying people, when you start digging 2ft away or draw a crowd which will no doubt mean lots and lots of questions which will eat into your hunting time.
#9 Always Be Aware & Respectful
Failing to fill in or cover up holes you have dug could be dangerous for other people. It’s also a little disrespectful to dig up a load of trash and simply leave it there. Respect the site you are hunting on at all times or you may not be allowed back there and worse still you could spoil it for other diggers via a complete ban on metal detecting on the site due to your actions.
#10 Carrying Spare Batteries
Firstly it’s important to always carry a spare battery with you if you are hunting at a site of significant distance from your home. Secondly it’s important to carry the battery in a waterproof protective case or pocket. It’s totally up to you how you decide to do this, a canvas pocket knife sheath on a belt is a good idea, or something as simple as an old glasses case for those using AA batteries will do the job just fine.
#11 Make Friends Hunt In Packs!
Although these metal detecting tips for beginners are a great starting point, you will learn a great deal by watching and replicating someone more experienced. Diggers can be a sociable bunch and it shouldn’t be to hard to find local people on metal detecting forums or message boards to hunt with. Wouldn’t it be great if you detect something highly valuable and have people there to share the moment with?
#12 Slow Down, Relax!
I see this a lot with newbies, they are over excited and start sweeping a site at 100 miles an hour. Moving to fast will only increase the chances of you missing something.
#13 If You Find Something Good, Keep Digging Or Go Back
I know it’s quite easy to revel in the glory of uncovering something good, but a top tip is to keep digging in that area. I have had and seen multiple valuable finds less than 50 metres from each other.
#14 Take A Trip To The Beach
If your still hunting for that all important first valuable find the beach is well worth a visit if feasible. Even if you have to make a day of things, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find a serious amount of bling. As I mentioned in point #8 you’d be advised to plan your hunt to avoid busy times.
#15 Hunting In Water
If you make the decision to hunt in shallow water, it’s a great metal detecting trick to mark your coil with white or yellow paint on the tip. This makes it a lot easier to pinpoint your target as seeing your coil under murky water in particular can be difficult.
#16 Carry An Old Sheet Or Towel
To save time filling in holes and respect the site you are digging on further, it’s a great tip to carry an old towel or sheet with you which can be used to place the soil or sand on when you are retrieving your target. When you are done you can simply pour the contents back into the hole and quickly move onto your next target.
#17 Hunting On Sites With Lots Of Trash
When metal detecting on sites littered with trash it’s advised to use a coil that is no more than 6″ in diameter in order to provide you with a more accurate target discrimination.
#18 Keep Your Coil Parallel To The Ground
I’ve hunted with several newbies recently and one of the biggest mistakes I witnessed them make was having the search coil at an almost 45-degree angle. This unfortunately will provide any beginner with false alerts – top tip is to hold the device accordingly so your search coil is always parallel to the ground.
#19 Don’t Touch The Ground
While the metal detecting ip above will ensure a reduction in false alerts it’s equally important the coil isn’t constantly brushed and banged against the terrain you are hunting on, which can cause damage from rocks or other solid items.
#20 Weak Signals
If you are getting a weak signal from your device it could indicate the target is buried at an angle in the ground. In order to get a stronger signal approach the target from different angles.
So there we have it, 20 metal detecting tips and tricks for beginners. Hopefully you have finished reading the guide and are excited to put some of the above into action. If you take just 1 thing from this it should be tip #2 to keep on digging. Prcatice makes perfect after all.
GL & HH