It doesn’t matter how much you paid for your metal detector, how complicated or how simple it seems to operate, your first step always need to be to read the instruction manual. It’s not something that you can just turn on and start finding buried treasure. There are different settings, alert sounds, and care for the equipment that you need to understand first. We have put together a list of 10 tips that can help you use your metal detector correctly.

1. Get Help for Your First Hunting Trip

It’s always a good idea to take someone who is familiar with metal detecting on your first trip out hunting. If you don’t know anyone who has detecting experience, you can check for metal detecting clubs in your area online. Most veteran detectorists are happy to help rookies get started.

2. Practice

Take your detector for a test spin in your own backyard – more than once or twice. You can place metal items on the ground, like coins, jewelry, and other metal object, and then swing your detector over them so you get a feel for the machine. You can also bury items at different depths so you can get used to the depth settings and what the alert sounds like the farther the item is underground.

3. Learn Your Alerts              

It’s important that you learn to differentiate the alerts your detector makes. Try putting a penny and a gold ring on the ground and swinging your detector over them so you can learn what the alerts for different metals sound like.

4. Search Purposefully

When you are hunting a site, be sure to do so in a pattern so you make the most of your hunting time. Most detectorists use a grid pattern when searching, but you can use whatever pattern you choose – so long as it helps you to cover all the ground you want to.

5. Pinpoint Targets

When you are digging a target, you want to do so making as small a hole as possible. That means that you have to narrow down the exact location of the item. While you can start doing this by moving your detector from side to side, and then front to back, it’s helpful to have a pinpointer to narrow it even further and not have to fill in a large hole.

6. Take Out the Trash

When you’re detecting and you dig up something that you don’t care for, like a piece of foil gum wrapper, or a pull tab from a soda can, don’t just throw it back down. You may want to hunt that area again, and you don’t want to keep digging up the same penny over and over. 

7. Don’t Clean Until You Verify

It’s tempting to want to clean the things you find while hunting, but for many old and rare coins, Civil War relics, and other valuable items you might find, it may diminish their value. Just make it a rule that you identify the item and do a little research about its value before you break out the soap.

8. Use the All Metal Setting

As you are starting out, you should utilize the all metal setting on your detector. Not only will it give you more of an opportunity to dig for targets, it will also help you find more valuable items. For example, gold has a low conductivity, so if a gold ring is buried near a piece of foil or nails, but you have those tuned out, you may miss the gold ring also.

9. Understand Salt Interference

Salt can interfere with a detector’s signals. This can be an issue if you are hunting on ocean beaches. You may have to turn the sensitivity adjustments down so the signals stabilize. Unfortunately, this may cause you to lose some depth, but it will help you avoid the interference.

10. Wear Headphones

Wearing headphones will enhance your hunting experience. They will block out wind, traffic, conversations, and other noise as you hunt, while preventing the chances that your detector’s alerts will annoy those around you.