Picking Your Next Metal Detector
Most of the detecting pros seem to follow a definite pattern. Twice a year they think about trading their machine for another or just buy an extra machine. That is generally in mid summer and mid winter. Most will try another brand from time to time and try to apply what they have learned from previous machines to it, but it is not always that simple.
As I have said before we seem to fall into one of two camps. The precise hunter that stalks his prey and studies his meters and listens to his audio feedback carefully before pouncing on the target. And the hunter that moves across the landscape like the shadow of a hawk quickly stooping and seizing one target to move on to the next with no lost time.
Some machines will generally be selected by one or the other hunter that most fulfills his or her idea of the way that they like to hunt. I am not saying that one kind of hunter is better than the other, just different.
From time to time, either boredom or curiosity causes the hunter to choose one of the other class of hunters machines. Either he or she wants to justify their reasons for choosing the other machines or perhaps just to learn and maybe improve his or her hunting.
Then come the questions. Perhaps the hunter is trying to understand why so many other people are proud to own one of these machines but for one reason or another they find it close to impossible to resolve the issues that develop when hunting. There are so many problems that all machines have from ground balancing, ID, falsing, speed, variations in tones, and so many other issues that complicate the machines that it is quite a task for one hunter to understand them all.
I think it is a bit like a woman going to a movie that has only action and the man going to a movie that is mostly romance. They come away a bit dissatisfied because of their natural likes and dislikes. No matter that the movie was good or not. I think it has something to do with the side of the brain we use. Weather or not that your left thumb or your right one is on top when you clasp your hands.
When we first pickup a detector we realize that it provides information in one form or another but we assume that it is state of the art and since we are beginners we just don’t know how to handle them. We “adjust” to accepting the machine with faults and just assume that the faults are ours because we just don’t know much about the hobby. Therefore we will use that kind of detector and defend it against other kinds in forum discussions or at clubs, but all detectors have their warts and good points.
Some are too heavy, some are just too shallow and can’t find deeper targets, some are time consuming, some may give only limited information, and all have some problems either they suck batteries dry too quick or something.
We do not need to be so defensive of our detectors and more concerned about the shortcomings and feedback information to the manufacturers. That is the only way that they will ever improve things.
If we who are experienced hunters try another class of machine we are often too critical and overlook the problems of our own machines. You might try taking the attitude of the newbie and be open minded for a while before you jump to conclusions. Like I say the two different types of hunters may not quite understand the charm of the other machine. If we try to understand the other kind of hunter then perhaps we can understand the other types of machines.
The one hunter is slower and precise and wants his machines to function that way too. He looks to the hunt more than to the finds. The other kind of hunter seeks to maximize his time and finds by moving as fast as possible and simply digging any questionable targets. Both satisfy their users and if they use another class of machine then they can’t understand the reason that anyone would choose it, since it only serves to mystify them. The precise hunter feels that he is victorious when he identifies his target in his mind and is not surprised at another find instead. The quick hunter feels victorious when he is surprised with a unexpected nice find. Target ID is not as important to him as much as providing him with the tool of choice to hunt his way.
I feel that eventually the machines will merge into one that will provide the best of both worlds. The precise hunter often uses machines like the Whites or Minelab series with lots of optional things to maximize the accuracy since the find is not the reward but the successful hunt. With him or her, the finds are necessary but only to confirm the accuracy of the hunter and his machine. The fact that he recovers fewer finds does not bother him or the fact that his machine may be slower and more difficult to operate. The swift hunter may choose machines that do not require his attention and will not require tweaking once the hunt is begun. They are satisfying when they perform quickly and efficiently and allow the hunter to resolve the variables of ID and depth within his mind. Experience is important to the swift hunter as he can quickly resolve to either dig or to move on in only a moment of time. The complexity of multiple targets is not as tasking to him and his decision is simply to dig or not to dig. His machines must supply his requirements and he is not concerned if there are more exacting visual displays of information. After all, he is victorious if he chooses the right choice to dig or not to dig in only a moment of time and quickly recovers targets and moves on.
There is no reason that the manufacturers cannot employ more features of each class of machine. Some are good machines but the display is sub-par and really does not give any important information. Consider what may fall into coin categories may be different in different countries and with foreign coins or old coins from our own country but the manufacturers only concern themselves with old fashioned simplistic things like current clad U.S. Coins. That is disingenuous to say the least. Meters, like the swinging needle type are extremely outdated and should never be used in detecting equipment. The current state of the art is unable to refine signals with any better refinement than a three digit display can indicate and that should provide any hunter with ID to his satisfaction if he is the precise hunter but remember that the swift hunter does not want to have to look at his machine and the best we have currently does not even give enough recognizable signal variation to identify over a dozen different signals with any degree of accuracy. That is the largest area for improvement! There could be easily dozens of recognizable sounds that could tell the hunter in a split second what lays under his or her coil. Notice that I did not even touch on the one improvement that could make one manufacturer totally dominate the field of metal detecting. Suppose brand X finds a way to use a secondary method of refining signals produced in the gold range. Would that be of interest to any hunter? You bet! We would all drop what we have and buy one even if it costs thousands of dollars. In less than a year the Brand X manufacturer would dominate the field and buy up most if not all the different companies. Surely if we can put men on the moon and create super computers and identify the components of the human genome we can simplify and identify the components of the gold signals good enough to ring a bell or something when we move our coil over a gold coin or gold ring. To assume otherwise is only the position of the losing company.
Understanding is one way that we can all come to see the other person in a different light, and in this article I hope that we can each come to appreciate each other a bit more. The I.Q. of the hunters is not the level of “burnt toast” as some manufacturers say, and the different types of hunters are not doing anything wrong just satisfying their own personal desires in a way that pleases them. Understanding between all of us will help to improve our hobby and perhaps prevent the current status of “a house divided” which seems to define us today.