Guest Post: Metal Detecting Field Tips for Coinshooting Success


Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years to help with coinshooting success. Some of you will already know most of these, but I wanted to provide them as a refresher for the veterans, and a useful guide for all newcomers.

1. Purchase X-1 SunRay Probe or other pinpoint probe
This is a simple concept. Spend less time digging and recovering your target so you can devote more time finding new targets. If you add up all the time you’re in a hole, you’ll notice that time adds up considerably. If you could cut that time in half, and spend the time swinging your coil for new targets, would that be useful to you? I would say yes.

Besides having a firm grasp of your detector’s pinpoint handling, you increase your recovery speed with a pinpoint probe. I’m currently using the X-1 inline SunRay probe, and I’d have to say this is a must for any detectorist. This tool allows you to switch from the X-1 probe to your normal coil with a flick of a switch. It can also give you 3″ of depth, which is nice for finding the direction of targets within the hole.

Other pinpoint detectors would include the White’s Bullseye and the Vibraprobe 560. Anything to get you an edge when you’re in the hole is a worthy investment.

2. Purchase Lesche or other quality digging trowel
I can’t stress the importance of a good digging trowel. They will help speed up recovery, and more importantly, they’ll give you the ability to make nicely cut holes. A flimsy or dull trowel can often lead to damaging the soil, killing roots and making a general mess. I know some of you are hesitant to spend $40+ dollars on a shovel, but buying several ‘garbage’ trowels will add up, costing you more in the long run. There are other brands that make excellent trowels. Look for digging trowels with the saw edge for cutting through the grass roots and tempered steel.
They are tough and will last you a long, long time.

3. Use less discrimination
Discrimination can be your friend and your unknown worst enemy. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. If you’re tired of digging pull tabs and bottle caps, a user will tend to become lazy and crank the disc up. Now, they’re digging only clear targets saving their back from pain. If you’re after quality and quantity of finds, you’ll need to drop the discrimination and understand what your machine is telling you. A common problem with discrimination is “nulling”. This is when your discrimination kicks in to block the “bad” beep. If you’re detector doesn’t recover quickly enough, it might miss a good target next to a garbage target.
By lowering your discrimination, you might speed up the response and shorten the null. If you have the desire to hear everything, some people (and I do as well) recommend to drop discrimination altogether and use Tone ID. This way you’ll be able to hear all targets.

This can get ugly real fast. I often get asked, “How do you know when to dig?”. When I’m using tone id, my detector will have a different tone based off of the metallic make up of the target. Combine that with depth and signal strength, I’ll have enough information to determine if the target is a worthwhile target. This takes a lot of practice, and this is not for everyone.

4. Maintain good coil discipline
You’ve heard and read about this time and again. Keep the coil low. Overlap your sweeps and go slow. Super simple, but easy to get lazy and start drawing the happy face with your coil. You keep telling yourself to maintain good coil discipline, and pretty soon you’ll develop muscle memory and automatically keep that good coil technique as a habit.

5. Learn to pinpoint accurately
This fundamental is absolutely critical for quick and “clean” recoveries. When I think of this, I think of the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Be patient and accurate with your pinpoint. By spending a few more seconds ensuring that your pinpoint is dead on, will speed up your recovery and more importantly, protect your target. Being off an inch could mean a major scrape on the coin with your trowel.

6. Change coils for condition and area
Depending on your budget or the seriousness you give this hobby, you may want to purchase additional accessory coils. All detectors come with their best all around coil for that particular unit, but that doesn’t mean that coil is the best for the particular area you’re facing. Smaller coils are great for trashy areas, but are limited in depth. Wide coils are great for depth and coverage, but you might have trouble in trashy areas.

If you have the opportunity, purchase a wide and small coil and use them in conjunction with your stock coil. You could start the day with the stock coil and determine the how noisy the area is. If targets are far and few between or are extremely deep, switch to the wide coil to maximize coverage area and / or depth. If your stock coil is heavily nulling out or the signals are driving your crazy, slap on the little guy to pick the good targets between the trash targets. More options could very well lead to more finds.

7. Hunt where other don’t like to hunt
This tip is something that I like to follow quite often. How many of you like to sweep around trees, follow paths, etc? I’d suspect quite a few. In hunted out areas, I like to avoid these areas and focus on areas less attractive to the normal hobby detectorists.

These areas would be.

– “no-mans land” as I like to call it. The most open areas. I stay away from edges or borders of a park for example, being right out in the middle in the field, etc
– Get close to traffic. I know a lot of detectorists can feel self conscience at times. Again, I like to take advantage of these areas. Detect on the side next to a busy street or intersection.
– Work the underbrush. Remember, 100 years ago that bush wasn’t there. Sometimes you need to work your way in there, but you might find a keeper or two.

If you feel the site has been hunted, start thinking of unpopular detecting areas and give them a try.

8. Try Tone ID
I touched upon Tone ID on the “less discrimination” tip. Tone ID, can be a useful setting. Targets will sound off by their metallic make up. Depending on how your particular brand handles tone, they’ll normally sound “high” for conductive metals. A low thud will be on the iron side of things. This is particular useful in a couple of ways. Number one, you can spend less time looking at the read out to determine what the target might be. And the most important benefit is when targets are close together. Without Tone ID, you might hear a broken beep followed by a good beep. With Tone ID, I would hear a low thud then a high pitch squeak. That could indicate a coin target next to a nail. Tone ID can give you a bit more information about the target to help identify possible good targets.

If you’re using “constant” tone (where the tone is the same for all targets), which is standard for many detectors, you might want to give it a try. Just like the discrimination levels, this is not for everyone. Some people prefer the digital read-out versus tone.

9. Go Slow
No matter what detector you own or how much experience you have, going slow will help you find coins. Going slow means moving forward slowly AND sweeping the coil slowly. There are several benefits to going slow. Giving your detector time to recover after targets have been hit is a big reason. You’ll experience less masked and nulled targets this way. You’ll also give yourself an opportunity to hear the faint deep targets between shallow targets by going slower. Going slow is a test of your patience, but just like maintaining coil discipline, you can teach yourself until it becomes a habit.

10. Clean the area for the good stuff
Sometimes I find myself cherry picking targets. I’ll only dig targets that are a certain depth. I often am guilty of this when I’m feeling lazy. One good way to re-open your old hunting ground is to clean the shallow targets out, so you can take a look at the deeper targets. Removing all the surface coins and pull tabs will provide a nice window for your detector to see the deep targets. This takes a lot of work, and if you hate digging clads like I do this will not be any fun, but after you’ve cleaned a section out, go back and go for the deep stuff. You’ll be happy with what you find.

11. Bonus Tip – Get good headphones
I’ve heard it time and again to pay the money for the good phones. The additional frequency response will help your Tone ID clarity, and the amplification features are nice for pulling the deep target tones, as well as help the hearing ‘challenged’.

You also get what you pay for. Buying a good set of phones will last you longer since the quality is much better, not to mention that there are often great warranties for particular brands. Just like the trowel issue, you could buy cheap headphones, but in the end you’re paying more by replacing them often. Also the added frustration of dead phones can ruin a good hunt opportunity.

I hope these tips are useful, there were to me. I’m learning everyday and I’m always trying to advance my skills, we can all get better, we just need to put in the effort.

Author: Hank D.

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6 Responses to “Guest Post: Metal Detecting Field Tips for Coinshooting Success”

  • dave hummel Says:

    You will find me at treasure quest (dave in iowa), just purchased a minelab se , i started with a white’s prizm5 and had great luck , as of 2 weeks now with the minelab, i am totally confused . i hunt in smart find and use the factory settings for the most part , i keep the coil just above the ground and go very slow , only 9 new coins so far , i know the lerning curve is hard and long , any advice would be great . i’d like to pose questions here from time to time if it’s ok , thanks from dave .

  • Hank D Says:

    Hello Dave

    You might want to follow this thread on the forum:

    Best of luck.. I’m sure your finds will start climbing shortly.


  • Chet Nowicki Says:

    What are good headphones? Do they just have to be more expensive phones? I know that the higher the impedance, the lower the current drain on the detector. Also the wider the frequency range should be better too. Taking both those factors in consideration, there are less expensive phones out there that have those qualities.

  • Assogoupt Says:

    hello not so a long ago did I search in a search engine aol content to on on metal detecting and found this page! Unoften find that search. So wait comments to on this page, what your opinion.

  • Uiuodindvestidv Says:

    Indeed, it is hard to find an informative and reliable source for metal detecting.

  • memorfows Says:

    Great tips.

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