You have bought the latest metal detector with all of the most powerful discriminated features to help you avoid the junk and find the good stuff. Right? Wrong. If only it were true that you could identify every target with 100% accuracy and then discriminate out all of the worthless finds. Unfortunately, a lot of beginners believe that this is true. What they don’t realize is that most metal detectors base identification of a target on a value such as conductivity.
The problem is that multiple items can give the same conductivity reading such as a nickel and a pull-tab. There are metal detectors such as the explorer that help resolve this by adding a second value labeled ferrous value. This means that items can be represented in a grid and items with the same conductivity can OFTEN, but not always, be separated. For example, I can usually tell the difference between nickels and pull-tabs on my explorer II. However, if the pull-tab is bent or was hit by a lawnmower, then they can sometimes fool me. For nickels and pull-tabs this is helpful, but what about gold rings?
Unfortunately, the bulk of gold rings fall between foil, nickels, and pull tabs. It all depends on their gold content, size, shape, depth, orientation in the ground. So, what does this mean for you discriminating happy detectorists? It means that when you notch out pull-tabs, you notch out a bunch of big gold rings. Or when you notch out foil, you ignore most of the small gold rings. Essentially, you are passing up the most valuable targets for the sake of only digging pennies and other coins.
But what about the ultra trashy parks? The reality is that in these circumstances, discrimination is a necessary evil. Will you lose some good targets? Probably. But you will also keep your sanity. I am not against discrimination. I use it all of the time. The point that I would like to make is that using discrimination too heavily can cost you valuable finds, while not using enough can result in a poor return on investment-the investment being your time.
If I am in an area that has minimal trash, I try and dig more targets in the foil and pull tab range. If it is a more trashy area, then I usually discriminate out pull tabs and foil and accept the missed targets. However, there are days when I try a park and it has trash and just isn’t turning up coins (probably because someone used discrimination to cherry pick the coins from the trash), then I will at times un-notch foil and dig everything in that range to see if I can find a ring. Other times, I just move on. There really is no right or wrong way to do this. It is all about what you want to find and how you feel while out hunting. Most important is your enjoyment of the hobby. If you really hate digging pull tabs and love your discrimination, just realize that you might be passing over some $500, $1000, or even $5000 rings. You just never know.