So your thinking of going metal detecting?
I would say that your first step into the much maligned and misunderstood world of metal detecting would be to find some land that you can detect upon. This is often the hardest thing you may ever have to do in the hobby. Please remember, that field you walk your dogs on belongs to someone. In fact everywhere you think you could go with your detector will require some sort of permission from the owner, and that applies to beaches.
A favourite of detectorist is farm land, if you know any farmers well enough you could have a good start point. Be polite when asking for permission, not everyone likes detectorists. Alternatively you could join a club, however this can be a little unnerving when you turn up to a dig with 30 or 40 seasoned searchers with their expensive machines etc. I will add that these clubs are in fact very friendly places where you will get a load of help and advice. They will have regular digs which you will be welcome to attend. I suppose it depends on the individual whether you join a club or not.
When attempting to gain access/permission to land, you will need to observe a few pointers. Try to look at your visit to the farm from the landowners point to view. You will be interrupting his/her working day, so be submissive and considerate, its all about timing. Don't turn up in your detecting gear, he/she will think you have decided that you will gain permission(look tidy). If you can engage him/her into a conversation on detecting you are half way there, answer all of his/her questions confidently. Insurance is a good selling point so have your membership card with you(see below). Carry an agreement document with you, but don't push it yet,(unless asked) documents scare everyone! Carry a business card with you, or even a letter with your name and phone number, it makes them feel secure. Finally I always carry a nice bottle of red with me, I make sure the farmer can see it when i first speak to them (I just think it makes them feel that there is something in it for them). So good luck and don't give up, the more you knock the more you learn.
So you know where you can go, what next?
Well its safe to say you won't get very far without a metal detector.
It's time to dust off your piggy bank and empty it of it's contents (don't worry you will soon re-fill it with the coins you find).
Now this is a decision only you can make, however I will try to steer you through your Two options;
- Buy new.
- Buy used.
We will firstly tackle the new machine options, of which there are many.
A very popular product at the moment are the Garret range of ACE and EUROACE machines. These machines are in constant demand and usually command a good re-sale price should you want to get rid of it.
These machines are good basic machines at the lower price (ACE) and very capable machines at the higher price (EUROACE).
It would be wrong if i did not say other brands are available, because they are, and they all have good and bad points. I will however add that the very low end machines which you buy from electrical retailers and catalogue stores are not a good option in my opinion.
This would be the option I would take (knowing what I know now).
There are many machines available on auction sites as well as sites such as the one associated with metaldetectingforms.co.uk find it here. The metaldetectingforum site is amongst the best you can find with readily available knowledge from forum members and the admin team, I heartily endorse its use.
The machines you should be looking at in my opinion will be ones that are "out of fashion" but still very capable of producing the goods. One such machine which I have some experience of is the Whites Spectrum XLT. You can pick these machines up for about £200-£250 if you are quick, and in the right place at the right time This machine is one which you can play with the settings and change numerous programs on it. It's maybe a bit adventurous for some one who wants to switch on and go.
There are very good machines from all of the major manufacturers which are switch on and go and available second hand in the £150 to £300 range. I could not possibly give you the names of all of these machines, but what i will say is watch the test videos on You-tube and get as much advice from the forums as possible. Look for Norfolk wolf videos on you-tube, the guy was a legend and has some comprehensive footage. If you pick up a good second hand machine, you won't want to change it in a hurry. if you pick up a low end new machine and get addicted to the hobby, I guarantee you will soon want to upgrade.
One final point is where you are going to detect. If you are planning on ONLY going on beaches, you are best to buy a specialist beech machine, again many are available. Do your research.
So you purchased a machine, what now?
Well you will now be well advised to get some insurance. This can be done by becoming a member of the NCMD or FID both well respected and reliable national bodies which represent detectorists. I strongly recommend you join one of these bodies before you set foot on a field/beach. The cost of membership is not prohibitive, so go for it. You will require membership if you are joining a club or attending a rally.
Now finally before you dirty your trowel, get out the detecting code of conduct and read it from front to back and through again. Here is the NCMD code of conduct.
Don't load up the car just yet!
You will now require a few accessories which are essential. First and foremost is the shovel/trowel. Without this you might as well be baking a cake in a refrigerator. If your chosen shovel is not up to the job and breaks while detecting, your day will be ruined, so choose carefully! I endorse the Draper mini round nose shovel, cheep and reliable. Others may want a full length shovel, or a small hand trowel. Don't be fooled into thinking that trowel you have knocking about in the greenhouse will do the trick. It will most likely bend or snap in no time. Secondly you will require appropriate clothing and footwear, though not essential it is highly recommended. after all, you could detect naked if you wanted, but where would you put your finds.........!
Finally you will need something to put those most precious of finds into (you will find them one day honest). I have plenty of pockets in the trousers I wear. I do however carry those small seal-able plastic pouches for those finds that get the heart racing .
Now off you go, and be careful!
I always let the farmer know when I am going onto his land, you may establish other arrangements.
No matter what you dig up, please remove it from the land (unless it looks like ordnance). If it looks dangerous call the police, the farmer would prefer it removed than it blow his tractor to hell. Large iron objects (and you will find them) should be placed out of harms way in the hedgerow. Smaller junk can be removed/recycled by yourself. Let the landowner know what you have found if its interesting, it often opens more land up to you. Finally adhere to the code of conduct on the aforementioned link (NCMD). This includes recording finds with the Portable Antiquities scheme. And understanding and complying with the treasure act of 1996 here. Remember that when you are out with your metal detector you are an ambassador for our hobby. Do nothing that might give it a bad name.