How to Start Metal Detecting Correctly (Dummies Guide)

Looking to start metal detecting correctly?

Based on my experience, metal detecting is fun and anyone who has the drive to do it will enjoy the hobby to the MAXIMUM.

You’ll get to exercise, and see different places while hunting for interesting finds. Talk of ancient relics, old coins, and of course, the expensive jewelry big ballers misplace.

But truth be told; your metal detecting foundation will determine if you’ll enjoy this hobby or not. And at here Pinpoint Detectors, we strive to help everyone build a solid foundation because we know its impact in the long-term.

So, we made this guide to help you kick start your metal detecting journey. We’ll cover everything you need from the tools, right places to explore. You’ll also find some metal detecting tips at the end.

Is metal detecting profitable?

Yes, metal detecting is profitable. And you can also make money through it. We have treasure hunters and companies like Mel Fisher Limited who are making a killing selling treasure.

Others are also making money in different ways. The easiest one is to go treasure hunting, find precious stuff, look for a dealer, and earn your cash in minutes or days.

We have those who’ve ventured into profitable businesses related to metal detecting, like selling or renting metal detectors.

Overall, you can make money through metal detecting today. Just find what you’re passionate about and put in the work.

Things to note before you start metal detecting

You deserve to get the right info before you start metal detecting and we’ll share them below.  

There are laws: do I need a license to start metal detecting?

You might be having the essential detecting accessories, but that doesn’t mean you can hunt anywhere. Metal detecting has rules. C’mon. You can’t dig up someone’s property and expect them to smile with you.

Also, different places have rules that regulate the hobby, especially state-owned ones like parks.

In short, always stay on the right side of the law as much as you’re hungry to find treasures. It’s as simple as doing quick research to know the metal detecting laws in a place.

For example, some states in the US have designated hunting spots. Also, we have laws dictating who the treasure you find belongs to. If you find relics or coins that date 100 years back, you’re required to report them to the authorities.

Quick note: ask for permission before hunting on other people’s property. If you break the laws, you might be fined or your detector confiscated.

To answer the main question, you don’t need a license to start metal detecting. Smile.

Everyone started somewhere

You might be looking at the experienced treasure hunters on YouTube and think they’re talented or using some magic portion to get finds. That’s not it.

All the famous treasure hunters were once beginners, and you’ll get to their level if you put in the work. The most important thing here is getting started.

With practice, you’ll equip yourself with the detecting skills you can apply in the real world and even make money through it. For instance, we have detectorists who sell their time for money- helping people to track lost items like keys and rings.

Later, you’ll decide if you want to pursue treasure full-time like those visiting distant lands or deep seas.

It’s not a smooth ride- buckle up

Metal detecting may look easy from the outside; get a detector, swing it, and recover that old coin or jewelry. We’re not sorry to say this but don’t expect that here. This hobby isn’t as easy as it looks.

The reality is, everything including metal detecting has a learning curve. And that can be frustrating in the beginning. You’ll have to learn how to sweep properly, comprehend your detector’s settings and tones.

But the good news is you’ll learn them with time. Metal detecting even becomes easy the more you indulge in it. You can relate it riding a bike when young. You probably fell a few times before your feet and body got the hang of it. Look at the pro rider you are today. Woohoo!

Overall, if you’re looking for an easy hobby, try something like walking. Not to be harsh, but you have to prepare for the roller coaster ride in the beginning. It’ll be worth it in the end.

Soon, you’ll find yourself upgrading to better machines. And that’s how it’s ought to be!

Get ready to this

If we look at hobbies like camping, outdoor enthusiasts invest in accessories like portable grills, survival kits, and many more.

You’re mistaken if you think you’ll only need one equipment (metal detector). Yes, it’s okay to start with a metal detector only, but you’ll later have to buy some accessories we’ll share with you here. They will make the hobby easy peasy for you.

The other ways you’ll be spending include upgrading your equipment and traveling to different places to treasure hunt.

What you need when you go metal detecting?

There are several things you need apart from a beginner-friendly metal detector. 

Of course, some aren’t a must-have but owning them proves you’re serious and love what you’ll be doing. And that’s rewarding in the end.

So, here are essential tools to get:

  • Digging tool. It’s a detector’s best friend. You should pick a good metal detecting trowel or shovel that makes clean plugs. If you’ll be detecting on beaches, you need a sand scoop.
  • Pinpointer. You shouldn’t spend more than 6 minutes looking for the treasure in holes. Instead, invest in the best metal detecting pinpointer to pinpoint your target’s location in seconds or minutes.
  • Finds pouch. It’s a small bag for storing the finds you get in the field. They come in several brands, but we’ve chosen the best ones for you.
  • Headphones. It’s almost impossible to detect peacefully in noisy areas like parks and beaches (strong winds) without a metal detecting headphone. They also help to capture some good but faint signals.
  • Extra batteries. As a detecting enthusiast, prepare to run out of power while hunting. But that won’t happen with emergency batteries. You’ll detect until dawn.

Note: read through this metal detecting gear list to know other accessories you’ll need in the course of your journey.

What should a beginner look for in a metal detector?

So, what makes a good metal detector for a beginner? Is it the size? Durability?

Well, it depends.

But here’s what to consider when purchasing your first detector: 

  • Ease of use: An easy-to-use detector will give you an easy time to master the setting and get the basics fast. So, avoid complex models in the beginning.
  • What you’ll be looking for: Do you want to find silver coins, old coins, jewelry, or all? Well, most beginners often start with searching for coins and jewelry. And you’ll also need the best machine for the task.
  • Detection depth: You need a detector with a good detection depth, say 8-12″. That’s where you’ll find most coins and relics.

Here are the other things to look for when buying a metal detector.

Pro tip: Most beginners often start with either the Fisher F22 or Garrett Ace 300. You can read more about the two in the Fisher f22 vs. Garrett Ace 300 guide.

The best places to metal detect: how can I learn metal detecting?

There’s no better way to learn something than doing. So, you have to put your metal detecting knowledge into practice.

Well, the easiest way to master this hobby is to put yourself out there and indulge in it. But we don’t expect you to rush and go hunting in the wild some days after owning your first detector. LOL. Instead, carve out time to learn how to use your machine first.

Next, start small. You can buy different coins from dealers, spread them in your backyard then pay attention to your detector’s response in different settings. Alternatively, you can opt to check if there’s any treasure hidden in your backyard.

Here are some of the places you’ll visit later:

  • State parks
  • Rivers and streams
  • Schools
  • Ghost towns
  • Old barnyards
  • Ancient farmlands

Bonus: If you choose to hunt in a park, go through our guide on metal detecting tips for parks. We also created a masterpiece to help you metal detect in rivers and streams.

Metal detecting tips for beginners

Next, we’ll give you some tips that will help you when you start this hobby. We’ve also included a link to a guide on metal detecting tips for beginners.

Don’t be a plug hole

The most common mistake beginners make when treasure hunting is to dig and ignore or forget to cover their holes.  If you do so, you pose a big risk to animals and people moving around. It doesn’t hurt to spend less than a minute to cover your holes and get going. 

Learn from others

It’s hard to figure out everything related to metal detecting. That’s why you need help from experienced detectorists.  

You’ll find people willing to help you online. And the best place to meet are in metal detector forums.

Alternatively, you can join a metal detecting club near you and make friends with other hunters. Some will give you tips they wish they knew when they were beginners. And that’s their happiness.

Be patient

As we mentioned before, metal detecting isn’t going to be as easy as experienced detectorists make it to look.

Well, detecting in your first few days or month can be boring because you’ll be mostly learning how to use the detector and coming across objects like pull-tabs and cans. It’s normal. Don’t cry. But you’ll get better with time.

Remember that your “biggest” finds are out there waiting for you. Just do your part and trust the process. You’ll eventually get past the beginner stage and brag about your finds like others in forums.

Bonus: here are the other metal detecting tips for beginners.

Final word for those looking to start metal detecting

Metal detecting is easy. But it has a learning curve like any hobby, and that’s why many people think it’s hard.

We believe that you can do it and become a pro in the future. You only need the right tools we’ve discussed above, then go out and know their ins and outs.

With practice, you’ll move from recovering trash to better targets like silver coins, old ones, and the gold jewelry we lose. Who knows? You might choose to keep or sell them for a profit as some do.

In the end, you’ll get a good return on your investment while enjoying something that’s slowly becoming a part of you; metal detecting. And that’s a sexy feeling if you ask me.

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