A Natural Progression

25 Jan

When you first start metal detecting, or when you acquire a new metal detector, there is (or should be) a natural progression in the growth of your signal processing skills.

By signal processing skills I mean the ability to discern the good stuff from the trash by reading and interpreting the sounds and other information your metal detector gives you.

During the first stage, you are just trying to make sense of the interface of your machine, be it just knobs or a fancy color screen and also you begin to get your ears accustomed to the tones your machine produces. During this stage you begin to figure out what the obvious coin signals look like. The coins you find at this point are relatively shallow and probably lying flat in the ground (or on the ground).
My recommendation for this stage is to set your machine with a high discrimination setting and get to learn the high conductive targets. Don’t spend too much time at this point trying to figure out mid tones but do spend a little time on the nickel signals.

After you know your shallow high conductive signals, you want  to open your detector a bit more and start looking at the mid tones or low conductor signals. I know some people who have been hunting for a very long time and don’t spend much time looking at the low conductor signals. This is a personal choice but if you ignore all mid tones, you will miss on gold, nickels, and many cool relics. Now you want to start learning what your deep signals sound like.  Different detectors do this in different ways but if you have a detector with variable sound, meaning your deep targets sound fainter than your shallow ones, then this is the stage where you want to dig lots of faint signals so you can get a good idea as to what your machine is telling you. I think it is at this point that you begin to get a really good handle on bottle cap signals.

By the third stage, you know what shallow and deep signals sound like. Now you can begin to explore the iffy signals. These are signals given by coins on their side or coins next to trash. This stage takes a long time to master. By now, your confidence to tell a bottle cap from a coin in the ground has grown. Again, you will want to dig a lot of targets to fine tune your skill.

This is the God Mode stage. Not very many people reach this stage. By now, you can read a signal like a book. You can pull silver coins that are sitting right next to iron and trash and you know if a deep signal is iron or not with confidence.

The reason I am telling you this is because I’ve seen new detectorists quit soon after they start because they mix the stages. They start digging iffy signals and deep signals from the beginning and the high rate of failure discourages them. I went through that. One time I was so frustrated because I was hunting for gold in the midst of a sea of pull tabs at a park that I almost chucked my Ace 250 onto the adjacent river. I wish someone had given me some kind of road map when I started metal detecting. It would have saved me a lot of pain. Also, I’ve owned and used a number of detectors by now and I now know how to methodically approach new machines. With practice, the first two stages go by very quickly. The third and fourth stages are a long-life pursuit.

Remember that this hobby is supposed to be fun. A hunter friend of mine called himself  The Clad King when he began detecting. He was having a blast digging clad at relatively shallow depths. After a while, he began to find silver and he moved on to the second stage. Soon after he upgraded his detector as he had grown in skill. That’s how it should happen. Try it.  One day, when you reach the fourth stage and you are one with the signals, you will thank me.

Thank you for looking!


One Response to “A Natural Progression”

  1. Luckydog1 January 25, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Good article. I think I’m still in the first stage! Love those 2″ high tones!

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