on the beach with a metal detector

How to Use a Metal Detector (for Beginners)

The moment has finally arrived. You put some fresh batteries in your brand new metal detector, or you charged up your battery packs. You are now more than eager to get out there and start recovering some long lost treasures.

Before you rush out to that great spot you spent a lot of time researching, there are still a few very important things that you need to take into consideration. You could think of these as tips that will make your first trip metal detecting even more enjoyable.

Slow and Steady Wins the Treasure

Metal detecting is not a race. The faster person does not get the most treasure. In fact, metal detecting is quite the opposite. You need to slow down and make sure your coil covers every single inch or centimeter of ground. Swinging your coil fast will and can cause all sorts of false signals.

Pay close attention to your swing pattern as it relates to your walking speed. I like to try and pretend that I am painting the ground with my metal detector. Try to keep a mental picture in your head of where you swing your coil. Does your walking speed cause you to miss any small areas? For most people just starting out, it does. Any areas you miss with your coil may have some buried treasures. Keep it nice and slow.

Pretty soon you may even find that you have worked into a specific rhythm. Your feet move perfectly with your swing speed, and you never miss even a centimeter of treasure producing ground. I will say it again. Metal detecting is not a race. Keep it nice and slow and you will be well rewarded.

Pay Attention to Your Coil

There are a few other very common problems that I see quite often. The people who are doing these things are the people who wind up finding very little treasure. These common problems specifically address the coil.

First and foremost: keep your coil as close to the ground as possible. You don’t know how many times I have seen people swinging their coil 6 inches (15 centimeters) or a foot (30 centimeters) off the ground. This is not beneficial. I repeat, this is not going to help you find anything! Keep your coil as close to the surface of the ground as possible, but DO NOT SCRAPE YOUR COIL ACROSS THE GROUND! Not only will you cause damage to your coil, but you will be getting all sorts of false signals too.

The same goes for bumping your coil on rocks, pebbles, roots, bushes and the occasional lawn
gnome. All of these instances will cause most metal detectors to produce a false signal.

Your Coil Is Not a Pendulum!

Do not swing your coil wildly like a clock pendulum. I see people doing this all the time, and they are making it nearly impossible to locate treasure when their swing reaches the furthest to the right or the left. Keep your coil as close to the ground as possible even when you have reached the furthest point of your swing.

Work Efficiently

There is nothing wrong with grabbing your metal detector and just going for a stroll through a local field or a playground. I enjoy doing this all the time, but there is a way that works much better, especially if the area you are covering is large and open. You need to slowly grid the area. I already mentioned this in the learning the lingo page.

Gridding is really easy and it will ensure that you cover every inch or centimeter of ground. Start on one end of the area and walk in one direction. When you get to the end of the area, move a short distance over and turn around and go back the opposite direction. Your path should form a tight grid over the area.

Once you have finished your grid in one direction, turn and go the opposite way. Repeat the pattern in the opposite direction!

This is by far the most effective way to completely cover an area without missing any possible targets.

Spiraling Outwards

Another method for covering a lot of ground is the spiral. This method is completely different,
and it works well if you suspect targets are grouped together. Start hunting the area in any
particular pattern until you find a good target. Once you recover the target, keep hunting in a
outwards spiral pattern.

Saving the Best Spots for Last

Saving the best spots for last may sound like a really good idea, but it is not. I had the bright idea to try this one time. I was hunting in an old ball field. There used to be a concession stand in one area of the park. I knew exactly where it was, but I decided to save it for last.

I arrived at the ball field, and I had the entire place to myself. I spent a couple of hours working the ball field. I found a few things, but nothing worth mentioning. I was ready to move over to where the old concession stand used to be. I knew there would be some older coins there because the concession stand was active in the early 1900s.

I was looking forward to going over the area, but when I got over there, someone else was happily digging up all the old coins. Apparently, while I was working over the ball field, someone else showed up and cleaned out the old concession stand area. I learned a very valuable lesson that day. Always go over the good spots first. This includes any places where people may have gathered two days ago, or 200 years ago.

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