So you’ve decided to take up metal detecting as a hobby. Maybe you came across an old metal detector in the garage or at a yard sale. Or maybe you talked to somebody and they got you hooked on the idea of treasure hunting for fun or profit. Metal detecting can be a great hobby for anyone; it involves history and the romantic notion of a treasure hunt, all rolled up into a fantastic outdoor, fresh air experience. Now you’ve decided to check it out but what is the next step?
If you are lucky, you know someone with some equipment who will take you out and show you how to use a metal detector and give you some great tips and tricks to get you started. This is a great way to test the waters and to see if metal detecting is something you want to pursue. Doing this can save you a lot of expense if you discover metal detecting is just not “for you”. Not only that, but you will have experienced partners to go out on hunts with. They can show you some of the better places to look for relics and coins in your area. You can learn an awful lot from them and this can shorten the learning curve tremendously.
However, if you are anything like me, you know absolutely zero about metal detecting and you don’t have any friends who do, either. Don’t let that stop you! There is so much information on the internet; a beginner to metal detecting can find the answer to just about any question they might have. In the short time that I have been investigating this hobby I have come across some really helpful resources on the internet. There are some great local resources available, too, all you need to do is look for them. I have found that people who have a passion for metal detecting are more than happy to answer questions and help a newbie out. Lots of areas have metal detecting clubs which hold local events and most will have a website and a newsletter. Most stores which sell metal detecting tools and equipment can put you in contact with others in your area who are involved in the hobby.
One of the first, most important decisions you will have to make is what metal detector you will get. If you can “test drive” a couple of models before you commit to investing in one, then so much the better. If, on the other hand, you do not have the luxury to try one out before you buy, then your preliminary research is going to be much more critical. This is one decision you want to get right!
I know you are probably anxious to get out there and locate some treasure but I would advise you to take your time here. The time you spend finding the right metal detector is going to pay off big in the long run so don’t rush into making that first purchase. You should carefully consider what type of metal detecting you will be doing to start out with and try to get the best metal detector you can afford which has the features you require. This is a decision you will need help with, so by all means, look around and then when you have narrowed your choices down to two or three detectors, ask questions of everyone you can talk to. People who have actually used the type of metal detector you are interested in can give you a lot of good feedback on what they like and don’t like about it and help you to make your final decision.
Your first metal detector should not be too complicated to operate yet it should be versatile enough to grow with you as you gain experience. There are three basic types of metal detectors: VLF, pulse detectors and beat-frequency oscillation. The type you choose will be mainly determined by where you will be hunting and what you will be looking for and finally, how much you want to spend.
Very Low Frequency, VLF, are about the most versatile metal detectors. They can be used in a variety of terrain and for locating a variety of metal objects. To add to their versatility, they can be ground balanced to account for various minerals in the soil and they can discriminate between types of metals so you can have a good idea what you have located before you dig it up. This helps you know whether you have found trash or treasure. Most general purpose models operate at lower frequencies.
Pulse induction, or PI metal detectors are best for the beach, they can detect metal at good depth in sand and are especially good in salt water conditions. They are able to detect objects buried deep underground, and are more sensitive than VLF detectors but they are not as good at discriminating between trash or treasure. Most gold prospecting detectors are pulse induction.
BFO or beat-frequency oscillation metal detectors are the most basic type and are usually fairly inexpensive. When the BFO metal detector is passed over a metallic object, the radio frequencies in the magnetic field of the search coil are disturbed. The detector will then produce an audible signal. This type of detector might be a good choice for a beginner although it might not be as versatile as a VLF model.
The cost of a metal detector makes it the single most expensive tool you will need for your new hobby and therefore, choosing a metal detector should be done very carefully. Take a look at what type of metal detecting you are likely to be doing and the terrain you will be hunting in. Get the best, most versatile machine your budget will allow and then go have some fun! If metal detecting turns out to be something you want to get serious about, you can always upgrade your metal detector later, when your skills have improved.