New to Metal Detecting? Use This Quick Start Guide!

New to Metal Detecting? Use This Quick Start Guide!

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Many of those new to metal detecting just go out to their yard or another site, turn on their machine, and, instead of treasure, find confusion and frustration.   The detector emits and displays what seems like a bunch of random noise and symbols.   They do not understand what it is telling them.  They do not find anything.   They are hot (or cold) and dirty.   They go home tired and empty-handed.  After a couple of sessions like this, sadly, many of them put their detectors on eBay or Craigslist or throw them in a closet and never detect again.

By selecting a good basic detector, learning how to use it, and preparing yourself before actually hunting, you can minimize frustration and be on your way to finding treasure and getting hooked on detecting for a lifetime.


If you have never used a detector before, choose a detector that is extremely easy to use.  Many new detectorists make the common mistake of choosing a very advanced, complex and expensive detector just because they can afford it.   You need one that you can just turn on and start detecting without a bunch of adjustments.   If you have a friend that has a detector that you are excited about, by all means borrow it to see if it is for you.    The Fisher F22 and Garrett ACE 300/400 Series metal detectors are widely considered to be two of the best detectors for someone new to the hobby.   You can always upgrade your detector to something like the Garrett AT PRO as you master basic detecting techniques and your skills improve, but only if you want to.      The extra depth and advanced features provided by an advanced, expensive detector are probably going to cause you more frustration than extra finds.

We will discuss below, but optionally you might go ahead and invest in a suitable pair of headphones and a pinpointer as well.


Read your detector’s manual and become familiar with each of its features and controls.  Some things that are critical to understand before commencement of swinging the detector:

– Parts and Physical Functions of your Detector: The manual likely has a diagram to familiarize yourself with the components of your detector.  The control box, arm support, shaft, cable and search coil are basic parts of a metal detector.  Follow the instructions to assemble the detector, as well as learn to adjust the shaft and perhaps the arm support for your height.

– Discrimination: Discrimination is simply a detector setting that governs what signals the detector’s computer should ignore.  For example, common discrimination settings  for a coin hunter accept all coins while ignoring pull tabs, nails and bottle caps The amount of discrimination can be modified on each

quickstart instr manual

Most detector manuals are also a great cure for insomnia!

 detector for different situations.  A person hunting for coins will want to have different discrimination settings than someone who is hunting mostly for coins or jewelry.   By having the detector ignore signals that are most commonly trash, for example, you greatly reduce the amount of noise you hear and can focus on the signals that are most likely to be the types of items you are looking for, like coins.

– Programs:  Most detectors come with basic programs that setup discrimination and other features automatically so that you can just turn the machine on and start detecting.  Most detectors have pre-installed programs for “Coins” and “Relics” for example.   Depending on what you are hunting for, it is best to learn how to quickly set the detector on one of these programs and leave it there until you feel like you have mastered basic detecting techniques and are ready to experiment with manual settings.

– Sounds: Your detector will most likely emit different sounds for different types of objects it encounters.  Some detectors emit lower tones for iron and low conductivity objects and higher tones for coins and high conductivity objects like brass or copper.  Some detectors even produce a special sound, such as a cash register “cha-ching”, when the computer is reasonably convinced that you have passed over a coin with the search coil.  You will train yourself on exactly what sounds to listen for in your test garden, but the manual will help you understand the audio capabilities of your detector, including how to adjust the volume level.

Display: Most detectors have a screen that displays information on the signals that the detector is receiving as you swing the search coil over the ground.  Many basic detector display simply say  “Pull Tab, Bottle Cap, Ring/Gold, Penny, Nickel, Dime, Quarter” on the screen.  As you detect a target, the display will indicate which one of these items it thinks the target is.   More advanced detectors simply show a number or a set of numbers and you will need to learn what types of numbers are generally good signals and what types of numbers displayed represent generally undesirable targets.

Sounds (audio feedback), Display (visual feedback), and Signal Repeatability are all parts of the  information the detector provides to help you determine what to dig and what not to dig.

– Depth: Many detectors can also display an estimate of the depth of the target.   This information is not only useful for telling you how deep you need to dig, but may be a clue to how old the target is and may be a determining factor in deciding whether or not to dig the object.  Your manual will explain if and how the detector displays the projected depth of a given object.

– Pinpointing:  Many detectors have a pinpoint function to isolate the exact location of a target so you’ll know where to dig.  Read this part of your manual carefully.

Read More: See Why You Need to Set Up a Metal Detecting Test Garden…>

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  1. Laser at 10:50 am

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