You just got your new metal detector and are ready to get outside and start hunting. Before you do, take a look at the following mistakes that are common to new detectorists. Avoid these blunders and you will enjoy your new hobby even more than you thought.


#1 – Trespassing

Ask any detectorist and they will tell you that the number one rule of metal detecting is that you must get permission before searching on any land. Yet, many people still just break out their equipment and start hunting without giving it a second thought. Getting permission isn’t always easy, but you must do it. It will save you the heartache and hassle of getting caught and it will help ensure that other detectorists can continue enjoying the hobby as well.

#2 – Using the Wrong Digging Tools

There are many options for digging tools out there, from hand-held trowels to detecting shovels. Because leaving the sites where you dig in good condition is important, it’s also important that you use the right size and type of digger. Also, remember to consider what type of ground you will be digging in, the hard desert ground will need a much stronger digger than the sand on a beach.

#3 – Not Doing Enough Research

The best searches are often the ones in which detectorists spend some time researching. While you may get lucky and find something of value randomly from time to time, knowing the area – and its history – you are searching will make it much more likely.

#4 – Not Carrying Extra Parts

If you don’t carry extra coil bolts, batteries, straps, and headphones, there will come a time that you regret it. It’s really frustrating when you are in the middle of a successful hunt and you have to go home to retrieve extra parts.

#5 – Using Ineffective Search Patterns

It takes a while to get into the “swing” of detecting. Some new detectorists move their detector too fast or don’t follow a logical pattern when they search. Determine what pattern works for you (many detectorists utilize a grid pattern) and move the detector slowly. 

#6 – Not Devoting Enough Time

Like any hobby, metal detecting requires a certain amount of time. The more time you spend searching, the better you will get to know your detector and the more successful your searches will be.

#7 – Buying the Wrong Detector

Many people who decide to start detecting buy the wrong beginning detector. Some may buy one that is too complicated and get frustrated with all the settings, while others may buy one that is too much like a toy and get frustrated when they don’t find anything. Talk with someone knowledgeable about metal detectors and find one that provides a happy medium.

#8 – Not Using a Pinpointer

Using a pinpointer to help you narrow down a target’s location will make your hunting much easier. Metal detectors will alert you when they are over the target, but a pinpointer will save you a lot of time digging and sifting for the item.

#9 – Cleaning Old Relics and Coins

Rookie detectorists are often tempted to clean their finds. It’s understandable, especially if you want to display them. However, in some cases, cleaning an antique find or an old coin may greatly decrease their value. Before you break out the soap and scrub-brush, determine what exactly you have and if cleaning it is recommended. Online forums and metal detecting clubs will allow you to consult with other detectorists to find out.

#10 – Having Unrealistic Expectations

Metal detecting is meant to be a hobby, not a way to get rich. While you may find some truly valuable relics, jewelry, and coins every so often, don’t set your expectations too high or you are likely to be disappointed. When you enjoy the process of metal detecting, you will find that it’s a hobby that is rewarding whether you find lots of treasure or you don’t.