Help! I don't find anything when Metal Detecting!
Here's a question I recently answered on my Facebook page.
I honestly believe that metal detecting is is an evolution. Yes, you get the people that buy a metal detector and find a hoard on their first time out, but this is very, very rare. The TRUTH is that we don't always find good stuff. Anyone that's been in the game for years will tell you that the norm is finding absolutely little, over and over. It's completely normal. I think that if you don't understand that, you won't stick with metal Detecting for very long, as the constant expecting can only lead to frustration.
It takes time to learn. Some people say it's an art. The older I get, and the more I metal detect, the more I'm inclined to agree with them...
Psychology of a Metal Detectorist.
Just try and empty your mind. Don't expect too much. Enjoy the time outside and exercise. Don't be hard on yourself. The finds will come IF they are there. Strangely, my better finds come when I'm relaxed, and expect nothing.
Research of a Metal Detectorist.
Do you know about the history on your land? Do you know where things might have happened in the past? Look at old-maps.co.uk and check if there are any pathways or any features that have long since gone.
If there are, then hit those areas. If you find a 'hotspot' (a place where two or more items have come up) then scan that place as methodologically as possible. We should be doing that on ALL of our land, really.
When I say 'methodologically' I mean gridded out in your mind (or physically with sticks and tape) and scan that area in a straight line up and down, really really slowly. Painfully slow. If you are thorough, your finds rate will rise. This is something I ignored for a long time, until I was educated by the older lads at my club.
If you still find nothing at least you KNOW you've given the place a good going over the best you can. You'll sleep easier. But using a method like that, you're unlikely to miss items.
Also look at Google maps or the map that is embedded on the side of this blog. Are there any unusual markings on the maps that stand out? Such as old structures. Round structures that may have been roundhouses. Go into local libraries and do the same with the local maps in there. These places have a wealth of local information that maybe relevant to your land.
Walk the land before you detect it. Are there any areas on the field that stand out to you? Such as dips in the land? These could be settlement areas. Places that people used to live on in the past. Also check the area outside of these areas, as it's where people might have traded or fixed items. Also look for slightly raised land or any locations that you can get a good vantage point from. Somewhere that may have been used strategically in the past. Lot's of items are found in these areas.
Technique of a Metal Detectorist.
Also, make sure your technique is up to scratch. Don't raise the head on the out-swings. Make sure the head is always parallel to the ground throughout the swing. Keep it as near to the ground as possible. You'll be amazed at what you can miss through bad technique! And of course, like I said before, keep it slow. Also, make sure the shaft is long enough so you're not stooping or leant over in any way. You must be comfortable to be able to achieve good technique.
Is the land recently ploughed? This can make a difference. Sometimes you get soil that is a bit 'fluffy'. This makes it harder for the detector to find items due to the air pockets in the earth. I find the best land is packed land such as pasture, or ploughed that has had time to settle. Recent rain makes a difference as well, as it effects the conductivity of the metal.
Understand your Metal Detector.
Lastly, understand your metal detector. This can take a while. Really get to know it. Create a test bed, and understand the tones that different items make. Place coins flat, and scan. Then re-dig them, and put them in sideways. Same tone? Make a mental (or physical - using a notepad) note of what tones are coming out of the machine. Understand what the 'faraway' tones are. A lot of people tend to ignore the weaker, distant tones, thinking that the detector isn't too concerned about it. It doesn't work like that. These are probably good items at depth or smaller items.
Learn about sensitivity, and ground balancing. Again, understand your metal detector. Spend time with this.
The Karma of a Metal Detectorist.
I'm a spiritual guy. I try and keep my Karma as shiny as possible. How does this relate to detecting? Well, I treat the land with respect. I always fill in my holes. I treat finds with respect, and I even say a little 'thank you' to whoever when they come out. I treat my farmer with respect, and I treat my fellow metal detectorists with respect.
But most of all, I treat Metal Detecting with respect. It's an art that we take for granted sometimes in this country, and it's something that we should all be fighting to keep for the further saving of our own heritage and history.
Good luck. Sincerely :)