A Beginner’s Guide to Coin Shooting
This is guide provides a basic introduction to finding coins with a metal detector. In it we’ll cover things to consider when buying a metal detector, where to find coins, how to find coins, and tips to increase the number of coins that you find. In addition to coin shooting, many of these tips will help the beginner to find jewelry with a metal detector.
Step 1: Choosing a Metal Detector
When you first go to buy a metal detector, the number of options may be overwhelming. The first thing that you’ll need to realize is that there are many different types of metal detectors. Some are designed especially for the recovery of historic relics, others are specifically designed for finding gold nuggets in heavily mineralized ground, while yet others are designed with the coin hunter in mind. There are also combination machines with weaknesses and strengths in several of these treasure hunting categories. You’ll want to pick the metal detector that best suits the type of treasure hunting that you intend to do.
Beginning coin shooters will want to consider three things when picking out a metal detector. 1: Does it have good discrimination? Discrimination is what will allow you to filter out all of the nails, bits of wire, and other junk that is buried in the ground along with your treasure. 2: Do you want a visual or audio metal detector? A metal detector can alert you to the presence of metal through either earphones or an electronic screen. Many of the detectors being put on the market today have both. This decision comes down to personal preference. 3: How much are you willing to pay? Like many other items and perhaps more than most, with metal detectors you get what you pay for. Cheaper detectors like the ones you find at large department stores usually have poor discrimination and will only penetrate a couple of inches into the ground. Can you find coins with them? Sure, but you’re likely to find more coins with a middle range or top of the line machine.
Once you’ve chosen and purchased a metal detector take the time to thoroughly read the instruction manual. Take it out to the yard and practice with it. You might even want to try waving it over a few coins and even pieces of common trash that you’ve dropped on the ground in order to get a feeling of how it works and what different material sound like.
Step 2: Where to Find Coins with Your Metal Detector
You can find coins in an almost infinite amount of places. Some might seem obvious; others might have you wondering how money wound up there to begin with. A good rule of thumb is to search where people have been. Places that seem to produce the most coins are usually those where money exchanges hands or where people are likely to pull things out of their pockets. You’ll also want to make sure to check locations where dropped items are not likely to be recovered.
Grassy parks are a favorite place for coin shooters to search. Beaches and sports fields are also popular. Other locations include the curbside grass near parking areas or underneath picnic tables. Hillsides that are popular for sledding and skiing are another great place. Sand volley ball courts almost always have coins and usually a piece of jewelry or two as well. Sometimes coins will even show up where people haven’t been. Try checking where snow plowers dump their waste snow. Many of the coins dropped in the parking lots and along the streets should be in with it as it melts. Creeks and rivers might also provide the occasional coin that has washed downstream from a swimming hole.
The list of locations is nearly infinite. However, if you decide to search a public place such as a park or street median, be sure to check your local regulations first. If you want to search a piece of private property such as a yard or field be sure to ask permission from the owner beforehand. Most property owners will gladly let you detect if you ask politely and promise to show them what you find.
Step 3: Recovering your Coins
Once you’ve found a promising location and begun your search you’ll soon be finding targets that you want to dig up. Before you start digging you must remember that you have to be able to return the area to the same or better condition that you found it in. There are many different methods and tools to help you recover your targets. Some digging tools will allow you to carefully cut a plug of sod that you can replace later. Others will allow you to make a small hole and probe for your find before pulling it out. The method of recovery is up to you. Just remember to fill in all holes and make sure the grass looks nice before you leave. Ideally no one should be able to tell you were ever there.
One piece of equipment that many coin shooters find indispensible is an belt apron with a couple of pockets. Three pockets work well as you can store your digging tools in one, your coins and jewelry in another, and the inevitable junk/trash you find in the last. You will want to pack out all trash you recover. Not only does this ensure that you will be welcomed back the next time you want to detect, it also prevents you from spending precious treasure hunting time recovering the same piece of trash trip after trip.
A Few Tips for the Beginning Coinshooter:
When first arriving at a new location take a few minutes to look around and size it up. Where are people most likely to congregate? Under shady trees or around picnic tables are usually better places than locations in the middle of large empty fields.
If you do have a large area to search, be sure to detect it in a grid. This method works great for baseball fields and soccer fields. In addition to ensuring that you’ll recover most of the coins and jewelry in the area this type of gridding will allow you to find hot spots in locations that might be common to other areas of the same design.
Watch out for gas and electric lines and cables! Most are buried far enough underground to not affect your metal detector but you never know if the guy burying the cable was feeling lazy that day and decided not to dig deeply enough. One way to check if your target is a cable is to sweep the area around it. If your target’s shape is one long line it is probably a wire or pipe.
Turn your discrimination down. You will find more trash. However, most pieces of gold jewelry and all nickels tend to fall in discrimination categories just above iron and tin.
When in doubt, dig. You’ll find more trash this way, but you’ll also find all of the deep coins that other detectorists may have missed. You’ll also recover good items that are buried next to trash. If you want to get a good idea of how this works, try waving a penny and a nail in front of your metal detector at the same time. Notice the way it changes the signal.
There are a hundred other tips and tricks that you’ll pick up along the way. Just remember that metal detecting, like any other skill, improves with practice. Good luck!
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