Techniques to Counter Detecting Muscle Failure

Techniques to Counter Detecting Muscle Failure

I’ll admit I’ve done it before.  I’m swinging my Garrett GTI 2500 in a field with a giant 17″ coil on it.   Suddenly the coil goes smashing to the ground like a model of a UFO crashing in a low-budget sci-fi thriller.   I almost pole-vault over the detector as it jams into my abdomen.   I rest a second, lift the coil back up off the ground, and detect for another couple of minutes before it happens again.   I don’t know if you lift weights, but the feeling in your detecting arm is the same as the muscle failure you feel if you’ve ever done sets of pushups, curls or bench presses until you literally cannot do any more.

I’m not picking on the ‘2500, but it is not the lightest detector on the market.   I do like it.  It is deep.  I found my deepest-ever silver quarter, a Standing Liberty (SLQ), with it.  It is sturdy.  It once fell off a 4-wheeler going 20+ mph.  I’ve drowned it in creek.  It still works fine.   I actually purchased the GTI 2500 from a gentleman in Texas for only about half of retail.  It was brand-spanking-new with the big canvas box bag and 2 extra search coils.  He was an older guy, and he just couldn’t swing it.

I don’t think they are going to release search coils with wheels on them any time soon, so here are some ideas to help optimize the weight of your detector.  And you don’t have to be older or injured to have a weight issue with your detector.

#1:  Rethink the weight of your detector

Integrated vs Hand-help PinPointer
I love my Sun-Ray X-1 pinpointer on my e-Trac.  It never needs batteries, it makes it easier to change coils, and it will use the discrimination settings of your detector, which is awesome.  But it does add substantial weight to your detector.  I use the e-Trac w/ the Sun-Ray for heavy battle.     I use the Garrett ProPointer with my Fisher F75 when I want to go light-weight.

Search Coil Size
Don’t use a larger coil than necessary.  Don’t put an oversized coil on your detector if you can’t wield it, and take it off when you don’t need it.  If you are hunting small areas like small yards and curb strips, an extra smaller coil like the Sun-Ray X5 gets plenty of depth and is likely a better choice regardless of weight.

My e-Trac is “pimped out” with everything but a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the control box.  I have the Sun-Ray X-1 pinpointer, a 15″ Ultimate Coil, and those fancy camouflage wraps from Europe all over it.   Everything on it of course adds weight, and just reducing the weight by a few ounces can make a difference during a long hunt, especially in extreme heat or cold.

#2 Support the weight of your detector

Adjustable Arm Rest and Support
Many detectors have an adjustable arm rest and some have a strap that holds your arm to the arm rest.   Many, many detectorists never bother to adjust either of these and use them as they came out of the box.   These adjustments are life-savers, or at least arm-savers.  Make sure the strap is adjusted such that it is tight on your arm.  Make sure the detector’s arm rest is adjusted to fit your arm properly.    If you’ve never adjusted yours, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much more comfortable the detector feels – more like an extension of your arm.

Detachable Control Box
Some detectors, like the Garrett GTP 1350,  allow you to detach the control box and clip it on your belt.  This obviously takes the weight of the control box off of your arm.

I use a standard mil-spec single point rifle sling rigged with a ring from the hardware store to support my detectors when I use a large “monster” coil or otherwise find it necessary.  Not ideal, but it works for me.

Several commercial slings specifically designed for this purpose are available to allow your body to support your detector in the same manner a rifle sling supports the weight of a firearm.   Three of them are the Swingy Thing, the MineLab Pro-Swing, and the Hip-Stick.  They vary widely in price from around $30 to over $120

One of my favorite “hero” detectorists recently heavily tested and reviewed some of the most well-known detector harnesses.  You can find his results at

#3 Tactics to Counter Detector Weight

Your Posture
Experiment with the way you stand, walk and hold your arms.  You might find that keeping your back straight instead of slouching, or altering your arm position may not only make a huge difference in how fast you get tired, but may result in smoother, more-consistent motion of the coil during the swing and get you even clearer readings by the detector.

Straighten Your Arm
Experiment what works for you.  When you grow tired, adjusting the angle of the search coil or shortening the adjustable shaft where you can straighten your arm may provide some relief.  Also you might try locking your elbow against your side.

Swing From The Waist
Lock your elbow against your side and, instead of swinging with your arm, turn and swing from your waist.  This works for me when I grow tired.

Take Breaks
I force myself to take a break every 1.5 hours or so.  This not only helps you mentally, but saves your arm.  If you are struggling with detector weight, reduce the time between breaks to each hour or even 45 minutes.

I’ve Got a Secret – I’m Actually Left Handed
Want to really work on a perfect detector swing?  Try swinging left-handed (or right if you are a lefty).   You’ll look like a crazy or like a drunk person at first, but it is actually an interesting exercise.   Laugh all you want, but when your right arm feels like someone “frogged” it to death and you can’t lift it but refuse to quit, this works.

Final Thoughts
No sense in killing yourself detecting.  Trust me – I’ve tried.  Once you start a session, you don’t want to quit.  Not because you are supposed to be somewhere.  Not because daylight is gone.  And certainly not because you can no longer lift your arm.

Even if you are not struggling physically with your detector’s weight, a lighter and supported detector will allow you to detect longer before mental fatigue causes you to get sloppy and undisciplined.

Photo Credits
Search Coil Atlas  adapted from iStockPhoto.

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