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Metal detecting tips for beginners

Some people can scour the seaside for hours looking for shells and other treasures of the sea. But much more than horseshoe crabs, jellyfish and oysters wash up on the shoreline. The ocean can provide a host of manmade treasures as well - some of which may have considerable financial value.

Metal detecting is an exciting hobby that also can be lucrative. Stumbling across pirate treasure may be rare, but many a metal detecting enthusiast has left the beach with coins, trinkets and even jewelry. The rush of discovery drives scores of treasure-seeking enthusiasts to invest their time and effort into digging through sand, silt and more for what's buried beneath.

About metal detecting

Metal detecting can be a worthwhile hobby because it appeals to one's sense of adventure while also serving as a form of exercise. In addition, metal detecting gets people outdoors, helps them learn about the environment and can serve as a lesson in history if artifacts are found.

The metal detectors used today actually have a long history that dates back to the 1800s. The first historical reference to metal detecting involves a gunshot wound to President James Garfield, who was shot on July 2, 1881. The bullet was lodged in his body, and Alexander Graham Bell built a metal detector to try to find the bullet and alleviate Garfield's pain. Bell's metal detector has served as the prototype for metal detectors ever since. 

Metal detectors were used to detect landmines and unexploded bombs during World Wars I and II. Gerhard Fischer was granted a patent on the first portable metal detector in 1931. Fischer's invention eventually made recreational treasure hunting possible.

Getting started

Beginners are encouraged to purchase entry-level metal detectors, which may cost $150 and up. Prices vary depending on the additional features and technologies metal detecting enthusiasts prefer.

According to the detecting experts at SmarterHobby.com, some of the best places to detect include places where people frequent. These include public parks, beaches, woods, public school grounds, and hiking trails. Just be sure that metal detecting is permitted before starting.

Looking at old maps of a town can provide ideas on where to hunt. One-time forts, marinas and trade routes make great place to start.

Patience is key when metal detecting. Much of what beginners find is junk, but the more time people spend searching, the more likely they might find something amazing. Experienced detectors advise hunting after the rain when wet ground is better suited for conductivity, making treasures buried deep beneath the surface easier to find.

Plan to search in early morning or late evening to avoid crowds. Slowing down and checking each signal can increase the chances of finding something.

Keep records of places you have searched, maintaining a log of sites that yield the best results.

Metal detecting is an interesting hobby that can make for exciting summer days.

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