As I write this it is the 1st January 2024, but these same steps apply whatever month, or year that it is that you decide that you are interested in starting metal detecting as a hobby. It is a really great hobby as well with so many different aspects and benefits.

Part 1 – The Health Benefits of Metal Detecting:

Metal Detecting Improves Your Physical Health

Engaging in metal detecting can indeed have positive effects on your physical health. While it may not be as rigorous as some other forms of exercise, it offers various health benefits, both directly and indirectly. Here are some ways in which metal detecting can contribute to improving your physical well-being:

1. Outdoor Exercise:

Metal detecting often takes enthusiasts outdoors, encouraging physical activity. Walking, bending, and digging contribute to cardiovascular health and help maintain overall fitness levels. The fresh air and sunlight also provide essential vitamin D.

2. Increased Mobility and Flexibility:

The movements involved in metal detecting, such as swinging the detector, bending to investigate signals, and digging, promote better mobility and flexibility. These actions engage various muscle groups, enhancing joint flexibility and overall range of motion.

3. Low-Impact Exercise:

Unlike high-impact activities, metal detecting is a low-impact exercise. This makes it suitable for individuals of different fitness levels and ages, reducing the risk of injury compared to more intense forms of exercise.

4. Stress Reduction:

Being outdoors and engaging in a hobby can help alleviate stress. Metal detecting provides a mindful and meditative experience, allowing practitioners to focus on the present moment, which can positively impact mental and physical well-being.

5. Hand-Eye Coordination:

Using a metal detector requires a certain level of hand-eye coordination. The act of pinpointing and retrieving targets enhances these skills, contributing to better coordination and motor control.

6. Social Interaction:

Joining metal detecting clubs or participating in group hunts fosters social interaction. Positive social connections are known to contribute to better mental and physical health.

7. Mental Stimulation:

Metal detecting involves mental engagement, from interpreting signals to identifying targets. This mental stimulation is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and may contribute to overall brain health.

8. Full-Body Workout:

While not a substitute for a full-body workout, metal detecting engages various muscle groups. Bending, squatting, and digging provide a moderate level of resistance, contributing to muscle toning and strengthening.

9. Weight Management:

Regular physical activity, even in the form of a moderate activity like metal detecting, can contribute to weight management. Combined with a balanced diet, it can help individuals maintain a healthy weight.

10. Sense of Accomplishment:

Finding treasures or uncovering artifacts provides a sense of accomplishment. This positive reinforcement can contribute to improved mental well-being, indirectly influencing physical health.

It’s important to note that while metal detecting offers these health benefits, individuals should still engage in a well-rounded fitness routine that includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises for comprehensive physical health. Additionally, consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new physical activity is advisable, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions

Metal Detecting Improves Your Mental Health

Engaging in metal detecting can have positive effects on mental health, providing a range of cognitive and emotional benefits. Here’s how this hobby can contribute to your mental well-being:

1. Mindfulness and Stress Reduction:

Metal detecting often involves spending time outdoors, immersing oneself in the present moment. This mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, allowing detectorists to focus on the sounds of nature and the signals from their detectors.

2. Outdoor Therapy:

Being in nature has been linked to improved mental health. The sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors create a tranquil environment, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.

3. Cognitive Stimulation:

Metal detecting requires constant attention and decision-making. Deciphering signals, identifying targets, and researching historical contexts provide cognitive stimulation, helping to keep the mind active and engaged.

4. Sense of Purpose:

Setting out on a metal detecting adventure gives individuals a sense of purpose and direction. The anticipation of discovering artifacts or treasures can add excitement and motivation to one’s routine.

5. Social Connection:

Joining metal detecting clubs or participating in group hunts fosters social interaction. Connecting with like-minded individuals who share a passion for the hobby provides a sense of belonging and support.

6. Sense of Accomplishment:

Finding artifacts or valuable items brings a sense of accomplishment. Unearthing a piece of history or a valuable object can boost confidence and self-esteem, contributing to a positive mental state.

7. Relieves Boredom:

Metal detecting adds an element of adventure and exploration to one’s routine. It offers an alternative to mundane activities and can help alleviate boredom, providing an enjoyable and fulfilling pastime.

8. Connection to History:

Discovering historical artifacts connects detectorists to the past. This sense of continuity and the realization that they are uncovering remnants of bygone eras can create a deep appreciation for history.

9. Therapeutic Solitude:

For some individuals, metal detecting provides a form of therapeutic solitude. The solo nature of the activity allows for introspection and self-reflection, contributing to mental clarity.

10. Creativity and Curiosity:

The continuous hunt for new finds nurtures curiosity and creativity. Detectorists often engage in research to identify and learn more about their discoveries, stimulating intellectual curiosity.

Conclusion:

Metal detecting offers a multifaceted approach to promoting mental health. From the calming influence of nature to the intellectual challenges of the hobby, individuals can experience a range of positive emotions. Whether it’s the thrill of discovery, the joy of socializing with fellow enthusiasts, or the meditative aspects of being outdoors, metal detecting can be a valuable tool in supporting and enhancing mental well-being. As with any hobby, it’s essential to strike a balance and ensure that it complements other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

Part 2 – How to Start Metal Detecting:

Okay so we have covered in some detail the physical and mental benefits of metal detecting, but how do you actually get started in metal detecting?

Which Comes First Buying A Metal Detector Or Getting Some Land To Detect On?

I often see on metal detecting forums discussions that can sometimes get quite heated about whether you should find some land to detect on before buying a metal detector, or the other way around. It is one of those long standing arguments. However, the way I see it is that you can always find somewhere to detect on, even your garden or the nearest beach, but if you haven’t got a metal detector then you cannot go metal detecting, so I say buy a metal detector first. So let’s take a little look at buying your first metal detector.

Choosing Your First Metal Detector:

Because this is your first metal detector, you are probably not 100% sure if metal detecting is for you, so you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on one, but on the other hand you don’t want something that is little more than a toy, because you won’t find much and will be disappointed and get bored very quickly.

A simple rule to follow is that if it is a brand that isn’t sold by metal detector main dealers then you are best to stay away from it, because there will be a reason why the main dealers aren’t stocking that particular brand. So stay away from the multitude of odd sounding names that you will find on Amazon. Go to a reputable main dealers website and browse their stock. They all sell great machines for both beginners as well as more experienced detectorists. Google the following dealers for ideas, Regton’s, Crawfords, LP Detecting etc.

Decide on your budget. For me a decent starter metal detector for a beginner should be costing something around the £300 mark., and for me the best starter metal detector is going to be either a Minelab X-Terra Pro, a Minelab Vanquish or a Nokta Makro Simplex. The only main dealer brand that I would suggest that you stay away from is Garrett, not because they aren’t a decent detector, it is just that for the same money the ones mentioned above are much better, and in this order.

  1. Minelab X-Terra Pro
  2. Minelab Vanquish 340
  3. Nokta Makro Simplex

I could go on about all the functions and benefits of one detector over another but that is for another time. trust me, one of the three mentioned above will give you an amazing start to your metal detecting hobby, but if I had to be pushed to pick one out of the three it would be the X-Terra Pro, it has selectable multi frequencies, yes the Vanquish has simultaneous multi frequencies, but the X-Terra Pro to me is still the slightly better machine. The Nokta Makro Simplex is a great machine but comes in third place, just because it only has a single frequenct to operate on.

Finding Somewhere To Go Metal Detecting:

As I mentioned earlier finding somewhere to go metal detecting isn’t that difficult but lets just run through your options when first looking to start metal detecting;

Metal Detecting In Your Own Garden or Back Yard:

Most of us have a tiny little bit of land either at the front or back of our house that you could use as your first metal detecting location. Over the years things will have been dropped or lost here but of course it does depend on how old your property is and whether you have an area of grass or bare earth to detect on. If you literally have just a concrete or paved area then you won’t be doing much metal detecting on there, but maybe you have a friend, neighbour or family member who has a garden for you to try out on? You will probably mostly find rubbish and left over building materials in your garden but at least you can get to know the tones and signals that your new metal detector gives you.

Metal Detecting On Your Nearest Beach:

In the UK you can pretty much detect on all beaches but it is best to check first. Don’t detect in sand dunes as they are often protected sites for wildlife. Just detect on the area of beach that gets revealed when the tide goes out, and up to the retaining wall and around any piers. You will soon start to find things. Think about lost coins and jewelery, where would the movement of the sea drop them? Maybe in rock pools, but don’t submerge your detectors control box, unless you are sure that it is waterproof. Look to see where coin sized pebbles accumulate, could there be a few coins mixed in with them? Look at the areas where people lie to sunbathe, it is so easy to lose or drop something if you are getting partially undressed!

Metal Detecting On An Organised Dig:

Metal Detecting is big business these days, and whether you like it or not farmers are offered quite large sums of money to allow clubs to run detecting days or rallies on their land. If you search on Facebook for metal detecting groups in your area, you are bound to find some.

The way it works is that you find some of these Facebook groups and join them. You will then see their posts crop up in your feed. Usually it is other group members posting about their finds, discussing them, identifying them and talking about metal detecting in general. They will often post about their upcoming digs, either as a post, or sometimes they have an events page. Just look out for upcoming digs, or post on the group page, introducing yourself and ask if there are any digs coming up.

The group owner or admin finds land and agrees a fee with the landowner. When you see a did that you want to attend on the events page you just click the coming button and that’s it, you will be added to the list of people who are coming. Sometimes, if it is a popular dig you will see that it is full meaning that they now have enough people attending and you will have to look out for another dig somewhere else or on another day.

Usually on the evening before the dig, the exact location is released, before this it is usually just a town name and a description of the fields available. On the day you just turn up, there will be marshalls to show you where to park, and you just set up your equipment and join the growing crowd. It is usually at this point that you pay your fee for the dig. Somebody will be collecting the money, which is shared between the group admin and the landowner. Typical fees for a days metal detecting like this are around £15-£20 per person, but it can vary from group to group.

The great thing about these digs is that you don’t have to do anything other than turn up and pay. There will be anything from 30-100 people there on the day with anything from 20 to 150 acres available to detect on. It is a great way to meet other detectorists and to have a great days detecting on somebody else land.

Getting A Metal Detecting Permission Of Your Own:

All land, everywhere is owned by somebody, even beaches are owned by somebody, usually the Crown, even land that is considered public, cannot be detected on without permission. The same goes for woods, moorland and commons. They are all privately owned and cannot be detected on without permission.

The best land to detect on is farmland, it has been used by people for thousands of years and they have all lost things or discarded things over the centuries. A field full of cows might once have been a medieval fair, or a long deserted village, or the site of a civil war battle, or a Roman villa. Very rarely is the full history of any land known. Metal detecting in a field might just reveal a coin lost 800 years ago, or part of a flintlock rifle, some musket balls, a bronze age spear tip or a long lost Roman brooch.

However, you cannot detect on it without the owners permission. So how do you get permission? Well the simplest method is to just knock on a farmers door and ask. They are usually quite friendly, but they have probably been asked many times before. So how can you improve your success rate in getting permission over anybody else knocking and asking?

I just put myself in the landowners shoes, why would he give me permission to detect on his land? What is in it for him or her? Very little in reality, so my approach is this. I dress smart casual, not in muddy camouflage gear, not carrying my detector over my shoulder. I always apologise for intruding or disturbing them. I explain who I am, where I am from and that I am very interested in the history of the area. I ask if it would be okay to detect in just one specific field and that I will come to show them what I had found, and that I will take away any scrap that I find, unless they want it, and that I will not leave any unsightly mess behind.

If they say no, it is usually because they have already said yes to somebody else, or have had a bad experience with somebody detecting previously. If it is a no, then politely thank them for thir time and ask if they could suggest somewhere else to ask. I got my best ever permission by one farmer saying no, but when asked he suggested somebody who said yes.

What Else Do You Need to Start Metal Detecting:

In addition to your metal detector you need a sturdy spade to dig with, a pinpointer to help find the item in the hole or plug and a hand digging tool to help extract the find.

You then need something to keep your best finds safe, usually a small case or pot lined with sponge and a bag of some sort to keep your trash finds in for later disposal.

You need decent waterproof non metallic boots, a waterproof jacket and gloves to keep your hands dry and clean.

You should have your mobile phone with you for emergencies and to photograph your finds and you might want to download a metal detecting app to keep track of where you have detected.

Metal detecting is a skill that improves with time and practice. Be patient and persistent, especially if you’re not finding valuable items immediately. Each outing contributes to your experience and increases your chances of making exciting discoveries.

Remember, metal detecting is not just about finding treasures but also enjoying the process of exploration and connecting with history.

Starting your metal detecting journey in the UK is an exciting endeavor. With the right equipment, knowledge, and a passion for history, you’ll find yourself immersed in a hobby that not only provides outdoor adventure but also uncovers the hidden stories of the past.