Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Learning through hobbies

I have learned a lot from a young man I know. Sixteen-year-old Ben has taught me many things about history, chemistry, math and more. He learned all of the things he’s shared with me, through his hobbies of metal detecting and coin collecting. It was actually Ben’s coin collecting that led him to discover the hobby of metal detecting.

He happened to see a coin collection display at the Mentor library, several years ago, and learned that many of the coins in that display had been found through metal detecting. Ben thought it would be more interesting and more fun to find coins rather than to buy them. He attended a meeting of a local metal detecting club, soon after seeing that display and he began asking questions and listening to the advice and information he received from the members.

Through an ad in their newsletter, Ben learned of a used metal detector that was being offered for $175. Ben thought that was a good deal and when he asked some experienced club members, they confirmed that it was not only a good deal...it was a steal. The detector was in “like new” condition and it was a good quality detector for a beginner. Ben was ready to begin. He learned that he would need to buy headphones to hear the tones the detector was sending out as various metal containing objects were found and that it was important that those headphones cover his ears completely to block other distracting sounds. He purchased those and he was ready to begin.

Ben has been detecting ever since. I asked Ben what advice he would give to others who are interested in metal detecting as a hobby.

1. Practice in your own backyard, first. If you live near a beach, that’s a good spot for a beginner, also. Sand is very easy to dig.
2. Find a local club and attend their meetings. Ben says the information he has received from the older, more experienced members has helped him immensely, when buying equipment, learning techniques of hunting and learning more about the things he finds.
3. Know where you can hunt. You should always get permission to hunt on anyone else’s property. Most park systems require a permit. If you join a club, the club may have a permit that will cover you as a member. NEVER hunt in a National Park. It is not permitted.
4. Don’t give up. It can be frustrating sometimes when you have a period of not finding anything, but junk. If you persist, you will find valuable and interesting objects.
5. Learn how to cut plugs, when you find a target item, so that it doesn’t kill the grass. (One of the reasons, it’s good to begin in your own yard.)

A beginner can probably purchase a good, used detector for about $200. If it’s less than that, it probably is not a good quality detector. In addition to the detector, you will need good headphones and a shovel or sand scoop.

Ben says his most exciting find was a gold ring with a diamond and onyx stone. He found it at the beach and, when he first heard the tone, he thought it was probably trash. It had no identifying marks on it and Ben was not able to trace its ownership. This made the find even more exciting, because he could keep what he had found.

Metal detecting can become a business, also. Ben has used his hobby to find nails and screws that fell to the ground during one family’s construction of a tree house. He, also, has found surveying pins to help homeowners who are unsure where their property begins or ends. He has even searched large trees which were being cut down to send to a lumber mill, looking for any metal such as old clothesline hooks that may have been embedded in the tree and that could have damaged expensive saws at the mill.

If you are interested in learning more about the hobby of metal detecting, check out these web sites:





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