Metal Detecting is the use of a "metal detector" to locate ferrous (iron based) or non-ferrous metals. Metal detectors come in a wide range of designs and many are specifically designed for a particular type of hunting. Some people hunt old battlefields or bivouac sites of military units, and are looking for "relics" of those units. So, they would choose a metal detector that is designed for relic hunting. Some people nugget shoot for gold nuggets and want a machine that is very sensitive to detect the smallest nuggets. Some search beaches or underwater, so detectors are made to fit those purposes. And some detectors are designed to give good performance over the entire range of activities.
Even if you choose the fanciest metal detector made, with all the latest bells and whistles, it still will not perform correctly if you don't know how to use it properly. There are machines made to operate simply, but they all must be adjusted to one degree or another, and they all give visual or audible signals when a "target" is detected. You must be able to operate the machine correctly and interpret the signals correctly, or many targets will be missed, and worthless targets dug up.
It's not the number of targets detected, it's the quality of targets detected.
If you have never metal detected before, and don't plan on metal detecting for a living (at least not yet) then I suggest getting a metal detector that is moderately priced, with at least these minimums.
1) Ground Balancing (allows the detector to balance itself to the current conditions of where you are working).
2) Sensitivity adjustment (allows the detector to be less sensitive or more sensitive when necessary, especially in areas with a lot of electromagnetic activity, such as power lines).
3) Volume adjustment (doubt if you could find one without a volume control).
4) Discriminator (to reject trash such as old nails and cans, unless of course that's what your after).
5) Visual and audio target identification, showing depth to target and target ID (quarter, nickel, dime, etc).
Don't just run out a buy the most expensive machine you can find. They might be worth all that money, but only if you're going to use it enough to pay for it. Less expensive machines can give acceptable performance with a lot less money.
Where to metal detect? That depends on your target. Gold nuggets? Obviously you would not search in the local school yard. Search out those areas known to produce gold nuggets. Many recreational prospecting and metal detecting clubs have claims that members can work. There are also areas open to the public that can be worked. If you're after coins, you need to search areas that have been frequented by lots of people. Parks, ball fields, church yards, fairgrounds, beaches, school yards, and the list goes on and on. What about relics? Old battlefields, bivouac sites, march routes, wagon trails, old homesteads, ghost towns, and once again, the list goes on and on. What's the bottom line?
RESEARCH - RESEARCH - RESEARCH
Research will save you hundreds of hours searching areas that have not, and will not, produce that which you seek. Where can your start your search? Right here. Hundreds of ghost towns and hundreds of lost treasure stores are listed in the RESEARCH area, and more will be added continuously. Where else? Libraries, bookstores, newspaper archives, history books, magazines, local residents, and the list goes on and on. There is literally an endless supply of information about what you want to find and where you want to find it. You just have to look.
Anyone, young and old, can go metal detecting. Anyone can find treasures with their metal detector. It doesn't take a lot of machinery to do it, just a good metal detector.
Look for Books on Metal Detecting in the Mercantile
Prewitt & Company