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Metal Detecting Basics

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Whenever someone asks me what my hobby is and I tell them it is metal detecting they nearly always appear to be caught between fascination and slight embarrassment for what they imagine is a lonely geeky past time. The second question (if there is one) is usually either have you found anything of value (yes depending on how you define valuable) and why do you do it (because I have passion for history and finding it for myself).

I have an archaeologist friend (yes it is possible for metal detectorists and archeologists to get on) who says his most amazing thrilling find was a small box with hand carved wooden dice in it that was dated back to medieval times. It wasn’t the value of this game that thrilled my friend (it wasn’t actually worth that much) it was the fact that it had been used by people a long time ago, it was once someones personal treasure and therefore part of their history.

I feel the same whenever I find a coin be it from roman times or medieval times. Someone once handled it and lost it and although I’m separated from that someone by hundreds and hundreds of years I may be the only other person to hold that coin. What a strange and fantastic feeling!

If you are tempted to give metal detecting a try then it would be worth knowing the following information.

Metal Detector Origins

A metal detector is basically a piece of equipment that responds to metal usually hidden or buried. Whilst the technology incorporated into metal detectors comes from a number of different people and places it was a polish officer Lieutenant Jozef Stanislaw Kosacki who designed and created the first practical metal detector. They were used to clear German mines and over 500 of them were used by Field Marshall Montgomery. Since then the technology has been refined and further developed making them more powerful and accurate.

Whilst many metal detectorists try out a variety there are four main activities:

  • Relic hunting – hunting for items of historical interest. This may be second world war rifles or civil war weaponry.
  • Coin Shooting – looking for coins. That man metal detecting on the beach! He’s finding all the coins people sun bathing like you lost.
  • Treasure hunting – looking for treasure that is rumoured to be hidden,lost or buried.
  • Prospecting – exploring for valuable metals such as gold or silver.

You will want to buy your equipment with consideration to the activity you want to concentrate on as different metal detectors are suitable for different pursuits.

The one big thing I would ask you to remember is that it is not the equipment you use that will ultimately bring you success but persistence and patience. Of course there is some fantastic gear out there but at the end of the day if you really want to make some interesting discoveries you need to research the area you are going into and be prepared to explore the same piece of land again and again and again.

Good Luck with your metal detecting.



Source by John F Daley