I have been around this hobby for over 35 years and went from the guy that had no idea what ground balance or gain meant to where I am today. It has taken thousands of hours of research and time, putting good detecting habits into practice. I, myself, have been very fortunate to be around some of the best diggers that have ever held a metal detector in their hands. If anyone ever thinks they are the best and they can’t get any better or learn more about what we do, then they are sadly mistaken. To this day I continue to learn every time I turn on and start swinging. Being associated with these guys for the last several years has really given me an insight that very few people will ever have. The team of diggers I work with are some of the best and most successful group you will ever find. Our fearless leader keeps us up to date on new machines and technology to keep us at a level we have attained. Now, how do you become the best detectorist you can be? First of all you must have an open mind and be willing to listen to the right people for instruction. In the past, I have been a involved in both Archery and Bowling to high degree. Those 2 sports taught me a very valuable lesson, if you want to be the best you can be, then learn from the best, someone that is very successful. I spent a lot of money buying the wrong stuff by listening to the “expert” that didn’t have a clue. I have learned how to do research from whom to seek advice. I run into people all the time that are wanting to get better, but they listen to people that have a good line but, don’t have the success to back up their claims. It sometimes is hard to get rid of bad habits, whether it is in your swing or the way you do research. YouTube is nice and there are some good videos and knowledge to be found on the site. However, there is also a lot of wanting to be people giving some not so good advice. It’s important that you as a viewer know the difference. You ask how do I know, again look at what they have found. A few old coins or a couple of gold nuggets doesn’t mean they have the knowledge you seek. Another thing is don’t keep changing the settings on your machine because this guy says it is the best way to do it. Learn your machine from testing buried targets to find out what works to get the best results in your area. There are no magic setting, there is however very good setting to start and work with to get your best performance. You will never be good if you are always changing your detector from this guys or to the next video guy that knows it all. YOU must learn how your machine works and when you need to change settings. Learn the sounds, do not depend on the ID’S # on when to dig. They are for a reference point to what might be the target. It takes years of dedication to understand this hobby. Now let’s talk about the detector that you have or want to get. I get asked all the time WHAT IS THE BEST MACHINE? The simple answer is “none” are the best at every task. And beyond that is what task are you wanting to use the detector. How about the selection of coils (not loops or heads) is compatible with a metal detector. What is the cost of the metal detector and the selection of coils you are going to need for your task? Not everyone can afford the most expensive detector on the market. But, if goal is to be the best nugget hunter you can be and are committed to that end, then, YES the Minelab GPZ-7000 is a machine you would definitely want to consider for Gold Nugget Hunting. To be honest, I am a bit prejudice about the brands of detectors I use so keep that in mind, but I use the one’s I use because they are the machines that I feel are the best for me and the tasks I want use them. That being said, here is what I have for my needs: GPZ-7000 GPX-5000 CTX-3030 FISHER GOLD BUG-2 XP DEUS These are not the only machines but they are my choice, do your research to find yours. THIS IS MY OPINION: Yes, I put in thousands of hours swinging and learning and have found over a thousand gold nuggets and some nice coins and relics. Why did I pick those machines? It is simple for me. When it comes to finding Gold Nuggets, Minelab is unsurpassed for depth on larger nuggets. That is why I have the GPZ-7000 and the GPX- 5000. Those two machines are similar but not the same. There are times when the GPX-5000 will outshine the GPZ-7000 and so that is the one bring out of the truck. If you are hunting nuggets in an area that has had a lot of miners camping and leaving iron items and trash behind, then discrimination may be needed and the GPX-5000 is the detector I want to use. When hunting in the Nevada desert where ferrous items are limited and nuggets of all sizes are possible to be found then the GPZ-7000 is my first choice. I have owned all the Minelab series from the GP 3500 up to the GPZ-7000. The GP series detectors have been the best gold finding detectors of their time. I have been fortune enough to find enough gold to justify the investment and I believe if you have the proper tools to get the job done correctly your chances of success becomes greater. The Fisher Gold Bug-2 is designed to find smaller and shallower gold and mean from fly *#*# to nice gold in the mineralized shallow ground. It is hard to beat the Gold Bug-2 when it comes to finding really small gold, but the Newer Minelab SDC-2300 comes very close but doesn’t have iron discrimination if that is needed. The last detector I use for hunting gold is the XP Deus. Now where would I use a multi purpose coin, relic and gold machine, in tailing piles looking for specimen gold. Again, these are my choices and for tailing piles The XP Deus is not the only detector that is good for the job, the Minelab X-terra 705 is the choice for a couple of the successful team members. When it comes to coin and relic hunting the Minelab CTX-3030 is what I find works best for me. One of the reasons I like this machine because it is waterproof. If you choose to hit the lake or beach you don’t have to worry about getting it wet and it works outstanding in the water while jewelry hunting. It has a good selection of coils to cover your hunting needs. In high iron areas I use the 6 inch coil and if the area it is a more open and uncluttered spot with deep coins the 17 inch monster coil would be the choice. The Stock coil works great for all around detecting conditions. The CTX-3030 or Minelab’s SDC-2300 are some of the best in water looking for those platinum, gold and silver rings. Again, there are other choices, but the CTX has it all and it covers most all of my coil and relic hunting needs. The XP Deus however, is a good choice with very heavy iron where the coins are close to the ferrous objects. I have paid for the XP Deus in a couple spots, finding some very nice targets lying too close to iron that the CTX was unable to find. I always use both units when I am in an area where old goodies are coming out of the ground. Back to how to become the best you can be. It takes hours and hours of using the correct techniques to become consistent in producing good finds. But just knowing your detector and technique is not enough by any means! The first part of becoming successful is doing the research to get you to a good spot. You can’t just always follow your buddies to get you to a good area. If they have been there, then you are looking for the left overs. It is fairly easy to find the cream in a spot, but to find what is below the cream and mixed in with the ferrous targets, or just plain DEEP TARGETS is what we are trying to do. You must put in the time to be successful. Wanting to find older coins and relics, then you have to be at a site that can hold those old items. The local city park is probably not your best choice but can be a very good place to practice honing your skills. The same holds true for a school yard. Lots of targets to get in some practice. With all the junk targets you can perfect your swing speed, coil control and keeping your coil level to the ground all the way through your swing. Learn how to separate targets and look for the deep ones, not the easy ones in the top 4 or 5 inches. Pass those up and leave those for later, but instead listen for the faint deep signals. The deep signals should be the better coins and relics. Look at the ground to see if has been turned over or fill has been added. While driving around look for old trees or stumps that have been there for years. Watch for older homes, especially ones that have bad lawn care. It can increase your chance to detect. Empty lots where old homes once stood. Look for foundations in those lots along with colored glass and trash from days gone by. Research at city hall or the library from where old roads or buildings once stood. Get photos from the era of when the community or mining camp was first started. Look at areas that didn’t have electricity back in the day, especially mine sites. Look for old maps of towns, forts or mining camps that are not on today's maps. The internet is a great source of information, but books and maps are usually the best way to go. As my detecting partner has told countless people, you will spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars buying that perfect detector, but you won’t spend a $100 a year buying research material to get you to those spots no one else finds. They are still out there. Research is all part of learning how to become successful. Coils are always a hot topic. What coil do I need? Well, you need the one designed to do the task you are attempting. If you are looking for shallow small targets, then a huge coil is not a good choice. Same way if you are looking for deep targets a small coil is not correct choice. Are you going to use discrimination, if so, you will need a DD coil. If you are after depth and sensitivity the mono coil is what you will want because they are more sensitive than their DD partners. There is also concentric coils on our coin and relic machines. You need to match the right coil to the task at hand. Smaller coils are designed to find smaller shallow targets. Big coils are made to go deep looking for that Lunker or deep coin, but if there is a small target at depth the big coil will most likely not see it and the small coil can’t see that deep so what does that mean. You simply can’t get them all unless you are scraping off a few inches at a time down to bedrock but we do try. Again, do some testing, if you are a nugget hunter then buy yourself some lead (Bird shot and fishing weights) in different sizes and put them in the ground at different depths and TEST!!! Coin hunters bury those coins in the ground so you can barely hear them. That serves two purposed, practice on faint targets and the opportunity to try different modes and setting to see what works in real life. Air tests are ok, but the mineralization and wetness in the ground tell the real story. That way you know what works and what doesn’t. That gives you the confidence and so you will not have to wonder if your machine and coil combination is correct. You will know! Confidence is a good thing. That is how we all have learned, practice practice practice…. You don’t have to be in the gold fields or a ghost town to become better on your detector. Instead of sitting on your couch go outside and put in some time learning about to make the machine and you work together to be successful. You might be surprised about how you want to get out there and find the get swinging after honing your skill level. If you have a family, what a way to spend some quality time together. And mom and dad you know the kids are going to get better than you. In conclusion, you want to be really good or just so so, the choice is yours. Everyone doesn’t want to be a Pro but if you do, it requires time, energy, investment and a lot of hours swing an digging. Remember, if you want to be the best then learn what you can from the successful hunter. Detector classes give you a huge leap forward to becoming successful. The final word is something I did hear on a video from a fellow digger: “Look of a reason to dig not for an excuse not to dig” Thanks for your time, Rye Patch Ron PS: Always fill in your holes, ask permission and leave it as good or better than before you dug.