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FAQ: What is Discrimination in Metal Detecting?

FAQ:  What is Discrimination in Metal Detecting?

When someone is talking about discrimination in metal detecting it has nothing to do with age, sex, race, religion, marital or familial status, or country of origin.  No, most of the people that are involved in the sport of metal detecting are very welcoming to outsiders coming in and learning the hobby.  The fact is, it is such a small group of people, we welcome anybody and everybody who is willing to sit down and bend an ear to discuss finding treasure.  "Discrimination," when discussing metal detecting, is the action of eliminating or "Notching Out" certain types of targets on a metal detector so as only to display a visual or audio cue when a desired target is found.  

For instance, on certain metal detectors, when the detector's coil is swung over an iron object, it will display differently than, say, a silver coin will.  The audio output for the coin will typically emit a higher pitched tone than the iron target and the digital readout will typically register a higher numerical output than the iron target.  If the detectorist is hunting in a place where there are a lot of less desirable targets (iron nails for instance) the metal detector's operator can choose to discriminate out the iron targets so as not to wast too much time digging up nails.  They can then focus on the more desirable targets.

Below is an example of two of the Garrett Ace Series metal detector's display face plate.  

The coin mode below shows that the user has chosen the coin mode.  This mode automatically eliminates all targets but those that would typically be displayed as a coin.  The LED indicator, and numerical read out may still display when the detector is swung over a small iron piece or a pull tab, but the audio will not output.  The user can accept or reject additional "target ID segments" but this mode will not save the altered user settings when the mode is changed.

Another mode (face plate shown below) is custom mode.  Different metal detectors have different predetermined modes that will eliminate certain objects.  With the Garrett series of metal detectors displayed, in the custom mode, you can notch out whatever targets you like.  When you switch to another mode and back to custom mode, the user settings will be saved.

Typically for those who are new at metal detecting, I suggest hunting in "all metal' or "zero discrimination" mode.  This allows the user to learn how to understand the metal detector the best.  Just like when a person is communicating with you.  It is best to understand everything they are saying and choose what you listen to.  When you start out it is best that you learn how the thing speaks.  Then, after a while, you can decide what you want to listen to.  But, until you learn how it communicates, you won't know what to hear and what to ignore.


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  • Josh Turpin