The Importance of Swing Technique in Metal Detecting

The success of your metal detecting endeavors doesn’t solely depend on how capable your metal detector is or how much you’ve researched a location. One often overlooked yet crucial factor is the technique you use when swinging your metal detector.

Proper swing technique affects the depth at which you can detect objects, the area you can cover, and the overall stamina during your hunting sessions. In this guide, we will explore how to properly swing your metal detector, ensuring you maximize your chances of finding those elusive targets while minimizing fatigue and discomfort.

Why Swing with Good Form Matters

The Impact of Swing on Detection Depth

The depth at which your metal detector can find objects is significantly influenced by how you swing it. A consistent, well-executed swing ensures that the detector’s coil maintains an optimal distance from the ground, allowing for a consistent maximum depth penetration of the magnetic field and a higher likelihood of detecting valuable items buried deeper in the ground.

Consistent and Efficient Location Coverage 

The way you swing your metal detector also impacts how efficiently you can cover an area. A proper swing technique ensures that you overlap your sweeps, minimizing the chances of missing potential finds. This is particularly important in areas where you have limited time or where the ground is rich with potential discoveries.

Ergonomic Benefits

Last but not least, a proper swing technique is essential for your physical well-being. While it can be easy to think otherwise, metal detecting can be a physically demanding activity, especially during extended sessions. If you’re consistently swinging a 2.5 lbs – 5 lbs metal detector for 8 to 10 hours your back and shoulders are going to feel it. Not to mention the back and knee issues from bending over to dig, pinpoint, and locate find in holes. 

An efficient swing minimizes strain on your arms, back, and shoulders, allowing you to enjoy your hobby for longer periods without discomfort and less fatigue.

The Basics of Swinging a Metal Detector

The Ideal Swing Motion

The foundation of effective metal detecting lies in mastering the basic swing motion. The ideal swing is a smooth, side-to-side motion that covers a semi-circular area in front of you. Your arm should move as an extension of the detector, maintaining a consistent height above the ground throughout the swing.

As you get started, focus on keeping the search coil a consistent height from the ground then transition to getting a consistent swing pattern. The bottom section of the featured image above shows a good example of an incorrect search coil. The entire face of the search coil should be flush and parallel with the ground.

Hand Positioning

The way you hold your metal detector is crucial for achieving an effective swing. Your grip should be firm yet relaxed, allowing for fluid movement. The handle should rest comfortably in your palm, and your fingers should wrap around it naturally. This grip will enable you to maintain control while minimizing muscle strain.

The Length of the Metal Detector Shaft and Shoulder Position

Adjusting the length of your metal detector’s shaft to suit your height is crucial for maintaining a comfortable and effective swing. An improperly adjusted shaft can lead to poor swing mechanics and increased physical strain. Your shoulder position also plays a vital role in this. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and level helps in maintaining a consistent swing arc and reduces the risk of fatigue and injury.

Swing Speed

The speed at which you swing your metal detector is another essential factor. A swing that’s too fast may cause you to miss targets, while a swing that’s too slow can be tiring and inefficient. The ideal swing speed allows the detector enough time to process the signals from the ground, usually around 2-3 seconds per sweep.

A consistent, mild swing speed will ensure each swing maintains good form, a stable distance from the ground, and you’re likely to miss a few inches between swings while you move forward. While it can be tempting to move faster to cover a full location, you’re essentially cutting your detecting efficiency in half to move further faster.

Advanced Swing Techniques

Mastering the Swing Arc

As mentioned previously, I prioritize maintaining a stable distance from the ground to your search coil. Once you’ve got that down, you can start to explore more advanced movement techniques to further improve your detecting efficiency. The first step in this process is maintaining a repetitive swing arc. A consistent, well-controlled arc ensures that the detector’s coil remains parallel to the ground, ensures you don’t constantly skip several inches of ground between swings, and reduces the overall strain on your shoulder and back muscles. This motion should feel natural, arcing with your body as your turn from side-to-side.

Fine-Tuning for Soil Conditions

Different soil conditions may require adjustments to your swing technique. For instance, in areas with high mineralization, a slower, more deliberate swing may be beneficial. Conversely, in low-mineralized soils, you may be able to increase your swing speed without sacrificing detection depth.

Enhancing Your Swing with Accessories

While mastering the proper swing technique is crucial, there are also various assisting devices available that can make the process even more comfortable and efficient. These accessories can be particularly useful for those who engage in long metal detecting sessions or have physical limitations.

Types of Assisting Devices

There are two main types of assisting devices you can consider:


Slings are simple yet effective devices that attach to your metal detector to help distribute its weight more evenly across your body. If you’re struggling with arm or elbow issues, this is a good place to start. By using a sling, you can significantly reduce the strain on your arm and shoulder muscles, allowing for longer and more comfortable detecting sessions. Slings are usually made of durable materials like nylon or leather and come with adjustable straps, making them versatile and suitable for detectors of various sizes and weights.

Some metal detectors will basically require a sling to use comfortably. (I’m looking at you Minelab SDC 2300 and Garrett ATX)


Harnesses offer a more comprehensive approach to reducing physical strain during metal detecting. Worn around the torso, these devices connect to the metal detector and provide additional support, effectively reducing arm fatigue. Harnesses are particularly beneficial for those who often engage in long detecting sessions or have pre-existing shoulder or back issues. They are generally adjustable and can be tailored to fit your body shape, ensuring maximum comfort during use.

A basic harness can be seen in the top-right corner of the featured image in this article.

Our group has steadily shifted to using higher-quality harnesses for the simple fact that it will catch your metal detector when you need to sit it down to dig and it will hold your digging tool/pinpointer. It also provides additional attachment points for a drink holder or other attachable pockets that are typically used for backpacking or endurance running.

Additional Accessories to Consider

Search Coil Cover

I was having a hard time finding a place to mention this, so I’ve opted to create a section just to mention it since I feel it’s relevant.

Whether you’re new or experienced you should be using a search coil cover to protect your search coil. It’s inevitable that you’re going to bump, smack, or heaven forbid bash into a few rocks, roots, and bricks. A search coil cover is a small investment that can make a big difference in keeping your expensive equipment safe and working longer.

Final Thoughts on The Basics of Swing Mechanics

It’s easy to overcomplicate things when you’re just getting started. If you don’t have much experience, just focus on one thing at a time and enjoy the experience. I recommend starting off by focusing on keeping your search coil parallel with the ground as you swing. Then focus on your speed and swing motion for consistent and efficient coverage.

As you gain experience or if you have any physical issues or discomforts, add an accessory to make things easier on your body. I usually recommend grabbing a sling to everyone. We’re not out here trying to prove how much endurance we have or how strong we are and far too often we find ourselves out later than expected. A sling will at least minimize the arm strain that usually takes us out of the game early.