Study: Missing the Easily Detected Target

Study: Missing the Easily Detected Target

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15 More Ways to Miss an Easily Detected Target

11)  I missed the target because I Was Rushing

It’s getting dark.  You have limited time to detect.  You can’t wait to get over there where the good stuff is.   Most commonly, though, we rush our swings when we are hunting a field or other extremely large area.  There is just too much ground to cover.  Being aware of your optimal swing speed and pace in the first place will help you develop the discipline to maintain it.


12)  I missed the target because I Gave Up On It.

Been there?   You think you have a great signal and after digging it suddenly doesn’t seem so great.   Maybe you lost your pinpoint spot while setting the detector down.  A lot of detectors use golf tees or other markers to help with this.  Maybe in digging you moved some trash over your original target.  You can’t find it, you re-scan.  You find nothing.  Maybe you guess you were mistaken or it was falsing iron and move on.   This is toughest when it occurs signals that were iffy in the first place.


Click to See Camelbak

13) I missed the target because I Was Too Tired and Got Sloppy

You can determine your own limits, but I limit my hunts to 4 hour sessions, and I force myself to take a ten minute break about every 1 – 1.5 hours.  If it is very hot, the heat saps the energy out of you and you get tired quickly, so stay hydrated.   My favorite innovation is the CAMELBAK HYDRATION PACK that straps to your back like the suits in Frank Hebert’s Dune.  Camelbaks are lifesavers and can extend a hunt during a hot day significantly.   Traveling to hunt somewhere all day?  Start right before daylight and do three 3-4 hour shifts with an hour in between.  You are going to find more then if you try to tough it out for 14 hours straight

14) I missed the target because of Poor Sweep Overlap
This is an obvious one but may be the most common reason targets are missed .  Know your detector and know it well.  You can understand where the “sweet spot” is from your test garden.  Targets on the top and bottom of the coil on your swing may give you a hint at best but are easy to miss.  I try to overlap my swings 40-50% as I move forward.  If you don’t clearly understand this, don’t worry – you may just need more time in the test garden.
15) I missed the target because I Unfortunately Covered It at a Bad Angle

Some targets ring clearly when approached from certain angles, and poorly or not at all from others.   Some reasons for this may include the target’s position in relation to nearby trash, or its orientation in the ground.  A coin on its side is going to present a wider target from an angle across its width than an angle across its thickness, for example.  This is why it is important to hit sections of a site multiple times and at different angles.  Come at it 90 degrees from your first approach the second time.  Mix it up and just hit it at random angles.PAtterns

Hitting the same site once per week at a different angle each time.

16) I Missed the Target Because I Didn’t Wear Headphones

I have a confession to make.  I have detected over 30 years but haven’t used headphones until the last ten.  There is no telling how many targets I missed over the years because they were faint or I was distracted.   I think one of the keys to getting from decent to good at detecting is learning what to listen for and relying on what you hear more than what you see on the detector’s screen.   The e-Trac’s “silver squeak” and two-tone ferrous modes are two examples of things that can be very difficult to catch without headphones.

My primary objections to headphones were the cable and that I don’t want something or someone sneaking up on me.  I have to be aware of my surroundings.   I used to detect with one side off the ear, but now opt for the Rattler Headphone by DetectorPro.   It’s just over one ear, but it works for me.

rattler headphones

rattler headphones Click to See Rattler Phones

17)  I missed the target because I Was Distracted

The list of possible distractions is huge.  Some common ones for me is that my mind is on something from work or a family matter, bugs are eating me up, or I am not comfortable in the place I am detecting.  This is why I hit parks and other heavy traffic public places really early in the morning.  It is cool, less chance a busybody confronts me, and most importantly I am well rested and my mind seems sharpest at that time.

18)  I missed the target because I Had a Poor Disposition

I’m in a slump.  I’m just not finding anything.  My detector seems to be acting funny.  The list goes on.  For whatever reason I am in a negative state of mind.  I’ve never found anything good in a negative state of mind.  I can’t even think of a single exception.  Be well rested.  Get pumped up.  Have goals.  Be motivated.  Relive a big find in your mind before each session.  Ozarks Detector says “Bring some gumption.”  If you are struggling with staying positive, you might be just burned out.  Take a couple of weeks off and get the fever to detect back.  You’ll come out of the gate strong when you come back.

19)  I missed the target because of a Poor or Messed Up Discrimination Pattern

Check your discrimination settings.   I’ve detected for 30 minutes without realizing I was on my “Coins” pattern and not my TTF pattern on the e-Trac.   I modified the sounds on some of my programs so I will hear right away if I am on the wrong program.    Another common error is to by accident hit the “Reject” or “Notch” button on your detector and notch out a desirable signal, like killing off 12-44 on the e-Trac.   It’s also a good idea to wipe your detector to factory settings every once in a while even though it may be a pain to set everything back up.

20)  I missed the target because of Poor Ground Balance, Channel Selection or Poor Sensitivity

This one is very interesting.   I used to never fool with ground balance, but I learned through some experimentation that it can make a difference in depth.  I hunt in three different states, and the ground can vary greatly from one site to the next.   I ground balance at the beginning of each session.    Even a half-inch depth at optimal sensitivity can make a huge difference.   Same with channels if your detector has such.   The right channel allows me better sensitivity.   Sometimes to mix it up because I’m having poor luck, I’ll try another one of my favorite channels on the e-Trac.

I know a lot of detectorists that preach cranking the sensitivity up as high as it will go.   Sometimes I do this, but it can be very counterproductive in trashy areas.  I like starting with automatic or average sensitivity and gradually cranking it up based on my progress and as I recover the same ground again.  Think about a good virgin site with a lot of good targets but moderate trash.  By getting maximum depth from the get-go, you may be getting a lot of unnecessary noise on some of the good stuff that is at a reasonably shallow depth.

21)  I missed the target because of a Large Piece of Trash Over or Under the Target

I love reading forum posts where the guy shows his finds but also posts the bucket full of iron and trash he also dug during the session.   These guys worked for their finds.     I’ve found good stuff under big iron, and I’ve found good stuff shallow in a plug that I dug to get a can out of the ground.  It’s a great idea to get big trash out of the ground when you can.

22)  I missed the target because I Relied on the Detector’s Displayed Reading

I used to over-rely on the numbers the detector presented me with.   After all, most of the time they are spot on.  The e-Trac nails a silver quarter at 6 inches with a solid 12-47.    In reality though, multiple targets in proximity to one another, trash, and depth are some of the factors affecting the numbers.   Have you ever been shocked to pull something great out of a hole that didn’t match the numbers at all?   I’ve learned to rely more on specific sounds, repeatability, and how the numbers bounce back and forth and use the displayed numbers as just one piece of information to help me make decisions, instead of letting the display dictate actions to me.

23)  I missed the target because the Spot was Unhuntable

Over time, trees and plants die, overgrown areas are cleared and for many other reasons very small spots of certain sites that you could not pass a detector over or dig are cleared.   Keep an eye on your well-hunted sites that no longer produce like they used to.   New construction, landscaping and natural events can cause new areas to be now huntable.   Sidewalk and road tear-outs are great examples of this.

24)  I missed the target because of an Obstacle

Be careful to get around plants and other obstacles at different angles and hit them as close as possible.     I can think of a backyard I hunted recently where there was some kind of stick plant stump sticking out of the ground only a couple of inches.  I kept banging my detector on it and getting what I thought was a  false signal.  Only after hitting it enough times did I kick it and dug it out of the way with my Lesche.  Of course the best target of the day, a 1947 Washington Quarter, was in that spot.

25) I missed the target because I was Lazy

We read about detectorists hunting a park that had been hunted a million times and choosing to jump in the undergrowth or other tough areas and making some great finds.   Be creative and be willing to work for your finds.  The easy places to hunt are not always the ones with the best targets.   When you survey a site to determine where you are going to start and how you are going to approach it, try to think about the places that may have been overlooked by you or other detectorists on previous hunts.

Final Thoughts

I understand that there is a risk/reward ratio for digging each hole.  Having to dig 50 pull tabs to find a gold ring, for example.  The point of this discussion is not that we should necessarily “Dig Every Target”.   The point is that we’re not exorcists.  Just because an experienced detectorist has swung his mighty coil over the entire site several times doesn’t give us the right to say “This site is hereby clean”.Dig Deeper:  The Easter Egg Hunt is a great exercise to improve your overall efficiency at finding “easy” targets and improving your overall technique:

Easter Egg Hunt








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