Just like other sports require practice, so does metal detecting. When you are well-prepared and practiced, you may find that you have the extra edge that leads to exciting finds. One way to practice metal detecting, is to build a test garden. It is basically a piece of ground where you plant various metal targets at differing depths. Then you practice your swing over the targets (or sharpen your pinpointing techniques) while you become aware of the difference in alerts that each type of target makes.
How to Make a Metal Detecting Test Garden
Making a test garden to practice metal detecting is easy and inexpensive, in fact you probably won’t have to spend anything to make one.
- The first step is to find an area in your yard that is completely free of any metal objects. To do this, set your detector to zero discrimination and find an area that has the least amount of signal. Dig any signals you do find and continue until you are fairly certain that there is no remaining metal in the area. Shoot for a ten to twelve foot square of ground.
- Gather some test items for your garden. You’ll want to include good items as well as some of the common trash that you are likely to find when you are hunting a real site. Various coins, pieces of jewelry, soda can pull-tabs, bottle caps, and rusty nails will be a good start. You will also want to find something to mark your targets once they are buried; wooden golf tees work great.
- Bury your test items at various depths (3” – 6”), making sure that they are at least a foot apart from one another. Press a golf tee, or other marker, into the ground directly above each of your targets. Make a map of your test garden, showing where each item is buried, what it is, and its depth.
- Practice swinging and listen to the difference in the alerts. As you become more experienced detecting, you may want to modify your test garden by burying targets deeper and placing them closer together.
Benefits of Using a Metal Detecting Test Garden
There are several benefits of making and using a test garden. Some of them are:
- You can practice swing speeds. Each detector out there has a sweet spot for swing speed. When you practice with the targets you have buried, you know exactly where they are, so you are able to identify the perfect swing speed for your detector.
- You can learn the different tones for each specific type of target. As you practice, you will begin to be able to tell the difference in different tones and alerts that your detector gives, based on what the targets are and how deeply they are buried.
- You can practice pinpointing. Just as you should practice with your detector, you should also practice with your pinpointer. Each pinpointer is different, and by learning how to use yours efficiently, you will spend less time digging and more time hunting.
- You can learn to differentiate between good targets and trash. Burying good targets along with trash is a good way for you to learn to identify the tones that are produced by trash.
- You can learn to use the settings on your metal detector. Using your test garden is a great way to begin to understand the different settings on your detector. Try different settings, noting how that changes the reactions your detector gives.
Using a test garden will help you hone your detecting skills, which will make all of your hunts better and your finds more valuable.
Jami Olive is a writer, mother and metal detecting hobbyist. She is a regular contributor to the Kellyco Metal Detector Blog