Getting Started (Part 1): Your 1st Month Metal Detecting!

By Daniel Bernzweig

With new metal detector in hand, most excited beginners bolt to their back yard or the closest patch of open land and fire up their detector. An enthusiastic attitude is definitely the way to go, but don’t let a pocketful of trash on your first time out discourage you. Digging up trash in the beginning is how it’s supposed to be… you are learning a new machine and hobby. After your initial day of metal detecting, every expert will tell you the same thing: Read Your Manual! Your manual will describe the factory recommended settings and explain what to do if you’re getting a lot of chatter on the standard settings.

First Week of the New Metal Detecting Adventure

Your next order of business is to run an air test (also called an above-ground test). Gather up some coins, a bottle cap, nails and other small metal objects. Place them in an open area on the ground and swing your search coil above them. You’ll be surprised at the different sounds and meter readings you’ll get with different objects. Try changing the discrimination control to get a feel for how it works before going off into the field. After hearing the sounds of coins and trash, you can test gold or silver jewelry. Make note of how treasure sounds different than trash targets. If your new detector has Target Identification, be sure to test it against known targets.

Create a Test Garden- It’s Easy & Well Worthwhile

Next, you will want to test the detector on buried treasure. Often called a “test garden,” or “treasure garden,” this is an area in your yard where you bury coins and other metal objects. Start with a collection of quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, bottle caps and nails. If you happen to have some older silver coins, these are great for testing. Somewhere in the corner of your yard, bury one type of each item about 1 inch down. You don’t even have to dig—just push the items into the dirt so they are not visible. Each object should be at least a couple feet apart if you have the space. Not only will you test your detector’s signals, you can practice your plug digging. Plant another row of items behind the first row; only this time, bury the items about 5 inches down. If you want, you can mark the location of your objects with golf tees.

Now, you can test how your detector reacts to various objects at contrasting depths. You can also mix up the rows, so they are not the same items in the same order. *According to many experts: when you first bury a coin, it is not the exact same conditions compared to a coin that has been buried for weeks, months or years. There is a somewhat debated term among detectorists called the “halo effect” with buried metal. The halo effect is based on the theory that most metal (except pure gold) ionizes in the ground over time. This ionization gets trapped around the coin by the surrounding soil. The effect of this process is that a long-buried coin is more readily sensed by a metal detector because it is creating a larger target for it.

In Part 2 of “Your First Month Metal Detecting,” we will take you to the local park with tips and tricks on how to return home with treasure!

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