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Shadow Research Center
|Tips on Competition Hunting|
I just received an email from someone inquiring about competition beach hunts, and since we're on the verge of the 2004 competition hunt season, I thought I'd share some tips with those who may be new to competiton hunting and thinking of trying one this year. Anyone else who has useful tips, feel free to jump in also :).
If a club has been around for a long time, they will have experienced seeders who understand the importance of evenly distributing targets. Our club usually breaks the hunt field up into 4 or 6 quadrants, and each seeder gets a quadrant. Usually, an official of the club or someone who is not hunting will seed the prize tokens, so none of the regular seeders can be accused of cheating.
Success in a competition hunt depends on 2 things - speed and luck. First and foremost, you must completely embrace the concept that EVERY SECOND COUNTS! When the whistle blows, everyone has an equal chance, but it's the fastest competitors who will walk off the field with the most coins and tokens. Do NOT spend time inspecting your targets. Just dump them in your waist basket (you DO have a waist basket, don't you?), and move on. If it takes more than 3 scoops, it's too deep and probably isn't a seeded target. Also, don't try and analyze every target because some clubs will hide a coin or token inside a bottle cap or tape it to a pulltab. On the Shadow, the best settings for a competition beach hunt on dry sand are 3.5 on disc and 8 on sensitivity, but that will depend on the beach conditions. At the beginning of the hunt, targets will be plentiful, so you may have to play a little "Twister." If you get into an area with multiple signals, while you're digging the first one, plant your feet on the others. In other words, try to spread yourself out to protect your nest of signals so the guy next to you doesn't come along and clean out your arc in short order. A sturdy, medium-size handheld scoop is best. With a long-handled scoop, you'll spend too much time reaching into the basket for the target, as opposed to just dumping the contents in your waiste basket.
Field position...try to avoid the corners because you will converge with other participants in a matter of seconds. Some people like to race to the center of the field immediately, and some will remain along the sidelines. If the field has been seeded properly, there should be no single area holding more targets. This is where the luck factor comes in. I've seen experienced hunters walk off the field with hundreds of coins and no tokens, and I've seen novice hunters find only a handful of coins and several tokens. Also, try to position yourself between people who look like they don't have a clue, and not next to a Team Shadow member! :).
Shadows make excellent competition hunt detectors because they are extremely lightweight, have fast recovery speed and excellent target separation. The Frequency shift toggle is a wonderful feature. In the event there is interference from other detectors, you simply flick the toggle and stay right where you are as opposed to running 20 feet away from the offending detector. Until you've had to change a battery during a competition hunt, I don't think you can appreciate how easy and fast it is to just drop in a single 9volt and barely skip a beat. In the event it starts to sprinkle, you'll have no worries because the Shadows are weatherproof, and you won't have to dig out a plastic bag or shower cap to cover your module. If you're using an X5 in a competition beach hunt, don't try to ground balance, but hunt in Fixed GB instead.
Some last thoughts on preparations... Of course, fresh or fully charged batteries are a must. ALWAYS check your detector at least a half hour before the hunt to make sure it's in good working order. It's also a good idea to mark your detector with fluorescent tape or a name tag so it's easily distinguishable from the piles of identical detectors, scoops and baskets. Plan to arrive early enough to register and get yourself situated before the starting signal. Is your car gassed up, your directions clear, and have you listened to the weather and traffic reports to adjust your departure time accordingly? These questions may seem overly rudimentary, but I've seen scores of people miss hunts for those exact reasons. Other incidentals would include rain gear or sunblock depending on the weather, a folding chair, a cooler packed with food and plenty of drinks if there are no concessions nearby, and a back-up detector if you have one.
The first time I entered a hunt, I felt completely intimidated and overwhelmed by the frenzy of activity going on around me. I found it very different from the peace and solitude I usually enjoy while detecting. I also found it fun and exciting and a terrific social opportunity to meet other detectorists. Since then, I've entered many hunts, made a lot of friends along the way, and have won a fair share of top prizes. If you go with the attitude of trying to make your entry fee back, you'll probably be disappointed. But if your intention is to have some fun, try a new experience, and meet some great people, you'll have a BLAST!
I learned at my last hunt that I did not even come close to my entry fee. A total different hunt than the few previous hunts I have been to. The battery issue reminds me of when I first met you. :) Course I am not subject to it either and had placed my battery in backwards (neg to pos)!!! Don't laugh, it can be done!
As far as starting next to a Shadow member... try having some of the best in the country on your heels the entire week!!! :) Did not know that until after it was over and found out an important lesson! Course I still did pretty good.
Remember that those "oldtimers" you see at the hunts are vetrans of the hunts!!! I learned the hard way!! They'll vacume all around you as you mention in one of your first tips. These folks are good, and spend a lot of time doing it!!! Don't underestimate them!!!
You did leave a few important tips out, and from the short time I have done this I will share some with some of you that perhaps do not know yet...
1. The field for the most part is laid out in a predicitble pattern. You need not cover every inch of ground with overlapping sweeps ..every so many steps a target. Find that "line" the seeder/planter was on and bingo, a pile of targets in a short order...don't forget there are also lines in different directions. You will discover this out in the grass areas where you can lift the tuff up and actually see the angle of the tool mark in the ground that seeded the coin...simply look up and follow that line!
2. Pay attention to where everyone is heading. At the start you have about 5 minutes to do well. Don't fiddle with that hard to find target "get it and go" in a hurry!!! If someone cuts your path and finds that coin you knew was on your line and passes on by ..go to the next targets in front or to the side. Also, check behind you to see if the field has cleared..if so, perhaps swing back on a new line and get those quick targets too.
3. After the finds have quit comming at a predicitible pace, and in fact are more actual to coin hunting, pay attention to the areas of the field that lots of people are digging targets at...then get over there quick!!!! There are a few left for you too!!!
Well, that is all I know so far..Mark will have to fill you in on a few others.
Since the savy beach competition hunter has a waist basket and a hand scoop; when your detector hits on a target, immediately reach down and scoop where you think it is. As soon as your scoop clears the sand and is out of the way, reswing your coil over where you just scooped. If it still beeps, try scooping again a little deeper or further off to one side. But if your machine doesn't sound off, the odds are great that the target is in your hand scoop, so just keep swinging and walking, dumping the sand in your scoop into your waist basket as you're looking for your next target.The target will automatically find it's way to the bottom of your waist basket. If done right, This whole process can be done in less time than it took to tell it, usually about 2-5 seconds and can greatly increase your coin count. It also helps to mount your waist basket on your non-detector holding side and as you walk along, shake it continuously with your free hand (the one holding your hand scoop) to help sift the sand through. Sometimes the sand is wet and is slow to sift out, and the basket can get heavy fast.
Everyone is giving excellent tips to hunting. The smaller club hunts tend to last longer as there are more coins per person and less pros to suck up all the coins. the novice hunters have a better chance to find plenty of coins. I've been land comp. hunting since 1996 and i make my entry fee money back, but that doesn't get me all the top prizes as luck plays a big factor. As we all know.....you've got to go over an object to detect it. this is where the playing field evens out. On land you've got to keep your eyes open for the "slits" from the coin buriers. Like Amy siad ever second counts......unless your a Team Shadow member.....then it's ever split second counts. 3 major points to land hunting is the detector sweep (you've got to be able to swing the detector is a way that comfortable for you and covers the most ground on the entire left to right sweep. Pinpointing and digging are 2nd and 3rd. this is where the pros start shining. the pros tend not to utilize the pinpoint buttons (cause this wastes more split seconds) They are able to visualize where the coin is by the scan of the coil and the beep. Remember looking for the slits as you are bending over to retrieve. Lots of times you won't have to dig because you've seen where the coin has gone into the ground. Practice at home to learn the quickest way to dig a shallow plug. Most coins are buried within 2 inches of the top...so no craters need to be created. However i've seen an amateur dig a hole bigger than his 12 inch coil and still leave the coin there. speaking of coils this is where opinions can vary but most hunters stick with the 7-9 inch coils. they tend to pinpoint quicker than larger coils while also covering more ground then the 5 inch coil. Which detector to use......which ever one is lightweight and has the quickest audio response. Undoubtedly the shadows overall performance in this area is great. i've used X2's for many years and now have upgraded to the X3. My 12 year old twins now swing the X2's and they wouldn't swing anything else.
the last thing to say is if you haven't been to a sponsored hunt, this is a great opportunity to meet very friendly people and learn tips and secrets to improving all aspects of your hunting skills by asking questions to those who swing the same type of detector you do.
Sorry i can't make it out to the Virgina Beach hunt. i would have liked to come out as this is where is first started detecting at age 14. Rusty Henry (Tesoro service dept.) sold me my first two detectors back in 1974. I will see everyone at Treasure Week. Team Midwest will be sending about 5 of our members. HH to all those who don't have snow andn cold weather to contend with. jeff.
jeff k- MN (team shadow midwest)