Most of the information below are excerpts from "Army Life for Better Detecting" published in Treasure Found! Spring 1982.
Pictured: J.R. Hoff metal detecting somewhere in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Somewhere in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

I got started in metal detecting back in December of 1974 while on Christmas vacation in Virginia. A close friend of the family had a metal detector and he invited me to go out with him to an old school for some coin shooting. Whenever the detector sounded off I got to dig the "treasure". After seeing those wheat's and silver coins pop out of the ground, I knew that this was the hobby for me.

When I got back home to Pennsylvania, I bought my first metal detector, a White's Coinmaster III. I have come a long way since the old Coinmaster III and now currently use the White's V3i . This detector does it all. It has state of the arts digital electronics. Since using this metal detector I never leave a site with the feeling of losing a coin because it was too deep.

The V3i metal detector will punch down and get the tell you what kind of coin, metal, size, and how deep it is!

I have used White's metal detectors since 1974. I still have the old Coinmaster, a 5000-D, 6DB, 6000-D, 6000-Di, 5900-Di Pro, Spectrum XLT, and DFX 300. I also have a few other oldie detectors like the Compass Relic Magnum 6 and Compass 94B Automatic and a Relco. I bought the new White's Coinmaster for hunting along the canal banks because they are so lightweight. My "specialty" is coinshooting. My favorite areas for coinshooting are old schools, oldchurches (my favorite), and parks.

I also like to hunt for civil war relics. I have an uncle in Virginia who has a home on 14 acres. The home was in use during the civil war. I have found over 40 pounds of civil war bullets, a few buttons and saddle pieces on this property. When I arrive at a hunting site I usually begin with a random search method to kind of give me a feel for the site. Once that is established I work a good tight pattern and then crisscross the same area. If it is producing old coins I will crisscross from another direction. I am very persistent at coinshooting and you can count on your hands the number of times I didn't find silver when out coinshooting. I will not hunt an area if there is no chance of finding any silver coins. By this I mean I don't hunt new schools or churches for modern coins. I want old coins so I hunt old sites!

My very first coin I ever dug up was an 1894 Indian Head cent at my grand-mothers one room school house. It is in poor condition but has a lot of sentimental value. Some of my better finds include a 1796 and 1797 large cent, a Roman silver denarius from Emperor Nerva (96-98 A.D.), 1833 and 1837 half dimes, jewelry and lots of rings. One day I was out metal detecting the front of a school yard and found a 6 diamond 14K engagement ring. When I first dug to retrieve the object I found a pull tab and then covered the hole back up. Just for the heck of it I ran the detector head back over the hole and got another hit. To say I was surprised is to phrase it lightly, but there is a moral to the story and that is to check your hole a second time, before you cover it back up. This was a lesson I learned early on.

Returning high school rings is almost as much fun as digging them up. I returned a ring that was lost for 8 years, one was lost for 16 years and the record...48 years! Searching for the owner is often as challenging and rewarding as finding the ring.

Being in the military (20 years retired army master sergeant) afforded me the opportunity to metal detect in all parts of the country and overseas. Huntsville, Alabama had some great metal detecting sites, one in particular was an old drive-in movie playground. Salt Lake City, Utah was also a good coinshooting area. I hunted a park called Liberty Park and got to coin shoot Brigham Young's front yard. The best place state side that I ever went metal detecting was in South Dakota. Not only did I find a lot of old coins but the people there are very friendly.

The best tips I can pass along for metal detecting is to slow down, hunt a tight pattern and make sure you cover your holes back up. Remember, the only thing you want to leave behind are your footprints!

Authors of Diamonds in the Surf, left Bob Trevillian and right Jack Carter.
Authors of "Diamonds in the Surf" Bob Trevillian, left and Jack Carter on the right (J.R. Hoff center).
This picture was taken in their Glen Burnie, Maryland shop.
More pictures of Bob Trevillian