I’ve been detecting for over 30 years. One thing has impacted my skills more than studying, experience, practice, and new technology. That ‘thing’ was my mentor.
In detecting, a mentor is someone with vastly more experience than you have. Someone that can show you the ropes. A mentor is not like a teacher or instructor. No payment takes place. No classroom or texts are needed. A mentor enjoys passing on his/her knowledge on while doing something together in the real world. A mentor is like having a detecting buddy and an instructor at the same time. Like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid.
You do not have to be very young to have a mentor. Anyone that is getting started, or wants to accelerate getting to the “next level” can engage a mentor as a tremendous shortcut to improving their skills rapidly and efficiently.
Your metal detecting mentor can do a lot of things for you:
– Instruct you on fundamentals and advanced concepts depending on your current level of expertise;
– Serve as a partner so that you have someone to detect with;
– Provide assurance and motivation when you are struggling;
– Watch you and point out problems with your swing and other techniques that are not easily apparent to you;
– Make recommendations on new detectors and other equipment
– Provide access to new places to hunt. A mentor has been doing this a long time and likely has mastered research, getting permission and networking to find new sites to hunt
Obtaining a Mentor
I found my mentor by encroaching on an area he was hunting. Like a bad movie, we butted heads at first. He was an older guy, and kind of ornery and rude just like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. I badgered him and eventually we started detecting together.
The best way to find a mentor is through joining a detecting club in your area. You can also inquire on most of the forums about a detecting partner in your area. Chances are your future mentor is out there looking for someone nearby to hunt with.
I don’t use the word “mentor” in discussing detecting with the people I detect with. No money is changing hands here – they are just detecting buddies. If you are mentoring someone, you don’t necessarily want to imply that your skill level blows theirs away. They might not even be aware of it. If you are looking for a mentor, chances are the right guy doesn’t see himself as such and is modest about the crazy skill you can clearly see he has.
If you can’t find a mentor to hunt with in your area, or just aren’t comfortable hunting with a partner, the forums are great places to find someone who is glad to help you out. Look for someone who uses the same type of detector as you, hunts the same types of places you do (ie parks, beaches, yards or home sites), and primarily hunts for the same types of things you do (ie Clad, Silver, Relics, Nuggets, Jewelry etc). Look for someone who has a ton of posts and is an Elite forum member or some other high-ranking title. Send them a message and see if they are “chatty”. You are looking for someone who you do not feel like you are pestering. Over time, you can likely exchange email addresses and even phone numbers to chat on the phone. You can even have multiple internet mentors if you are lucky.
An internet mentor cannot see you of course, so just explain to him the kinds of things you are struggling with. Most importantly when he shares a great day or great find/s on the forum, ask detailed questions. What did that deep silver dime sound like? What did the numbers look like on the display? That didn’t sound good to me – What made you decide to dig it? Ask him how he sets up his detector for different situations. How does he deal with sensitivity?
Listen to Your Mentor
Often your mentor will have an epiphany. They suddenly realize something profound and will share it with you unsolicited. This type of advice is the best because it may be specific to your detector type and situation and usually won’t be found in any book.
Sometimes you won’t understand or you will flat out disagree with your mentor’s advice. Trust him though and make physical or mental notes. Years later, I find myself laughing and smiling when suddenly I “get it”. I just wasn’t at an experience level capable of understanding what my mentor was trying to tell me at the time.
My mentor is gone now. I appreciate his friendship and all he did for me. Working with him, in my opinion, took me from being a decent detectorist, to being a great detectorist. He not only helped me detect better, he taught me to think better, and helped me realize that you can always, ALWAYS, improve. He is the reason I am so eager to mentor other detectorists, and is the primary inspiration for Detecting365.
Sometimes when I am detecting, I can still clearly hear my mentor’s voice inside of my head – telling me to dig or to not dig a specific target – or telling me to stay with my strategy. He still shares his vast knowledge with me when I detect – and I am eternally grateful.
Best of luck on your next hunt!
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