The skill school web site

skill school logo with men metal detecting

We are pleased to announce that the skill school has a new direction, don’t worry we will still be bringing you the latest metal detecting tips and tuition, and we will still be using XP products.
The only changes will be to the content, we will also be testing new tech that is related to outdoor pursuits and metal detecting, as we all know the hobby does not finish with a metal detector, there are so many new products we use within our hobby.

Man on the beach holding an XP metal detector
Along with metal detecting product reviews, the blog page will cover your stories and finds, so please feel free to send in your thoughts, there is an e-mail contact on the skill school website, it will be great to hear from you.
The skill school YouTube channel is going from strength to strength, we would like to thank you for your continued support, we love reading your comments.

XP Deus 2 screen showing the new custom Tekkna program
The new XP Deus 2 Tekkna program is hitting the fields hard, we have a series of videos covering every aspect of this fantastic custom program.
Give it a try, you may find it will uncover some amazing finds on worked out fields.

That’s it, see you guys over on the Skill School website and at Detectival if you are going this year, Detectival is the UK’s biggest metal detecting event organized by LP detecting.

the skill school website


How to find Hammered coins

In this short metal detecting article, I would like to go through just a few key points aimed at helping you and your metal detector find hammered coins.

Machine choice and settings
Over 20 years ago when I started metal detecting most machines had an operating frequency of between 4 and 7 kilohertz, now looking back those low frequencies were not the best at locating those small Silver Hammered coins.

Today’s modern metal detectors have the options of running at a much higher frequency, if small Medieval silver coins are your quest I would suggest 14 kilohertz and above will be your optimum range.

Recovery Speed
XP have named this feature Reactivity
Once you have the correct frequency, it is just as important to have a
machine with a fast recovery speed, we will cover the importance of reactivity a little later in the article.

Technique and discipline
For the best chances of success, you will need to match your sweep speed with the machine and the ground you are searching.
You would think, keeping the coil close to the ground goes without speaking, but this is a delicate art and needs a lot of practice.

Top Tip  – Meet the ground with a steady, confident sweep speed which matches the terrain and indeed the machine.

Location and terrain
location is really important, I guess you can find hammered coins just about anywhere in the UK, but they are probably casual losses, if you want to maximize your chances you need to be where the ancients lived and worked.
Top Tip -Try and talk to locals and landowners, see if you can get some inside information.

You really need to be looking for little hamlets close to a water source, deserted medieval villages are not always recorded, so you need to use your detectorists nose, ask yourself, would I be comfortable living here, is the soil easy to work, does it have good drainage, is it out of the wind.
Top Tip – Why not do some field walking without a metal detector, look out for pot – tile – clay pipe stems and oyster shells.

Putting it all into practice
The metal detectorists big secret !

Find that Iron!

You need to find the iron… find the iron you’ve found habitation.
This is where your faster recovery speed and  high frequency is going to unlock the fields true potential, concentrate on sweep and technique, and you are well on the way to mastering your craft.

By Paul Bancroft

XP Deus getting it right

Operating a top end metal detector can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be, I am your typical button presser wanting the last ounce of performance on any given site, but I have to admire those guys who simply switch on to their favourite Deus program and detect without a care in the world.
I goes without saying we all want to use the best machine for the job and our goal is to find something old or interesting, so it is fair to say everyone’s journey is different in some way, but the desired end results are the same.
In my opinion, soil conditions can be the hardest challenge to overcome, if your soil won’t allow it, the metal detector will not perform at its best, and it’s as simple as that.

Very often, historic land is contaminated with various sized iron, from large lumps down to iron dust mixed in mixed in with ground minerals,.
I am convinced the high frequency coils will be your best option.

The ultimate test
I was recently detecting with Paul Bancroft over in the west country on one of his interesting sites, he invited me over because he wanted a second opinion, as the soil conditions were giving him problems using high frequencies.
Paul wanted to use the higher frequencies in order to find the small targets, but his metal detector had different ideas.
After a few minutes detecting I had experienced his dilemma, at the top of the field the machine was working well, but as you worked down the slope towards the darker soil it became increasingly unsettled.

Having made all the usual adjustments, sensitivity, reactivity, to no resolve, I felt I was missing something but had no idea what it was. Operating the Deus at 14Khz and above was proving to be a problem.
I was in a stalemate situation, I wanted to use a higher frequency but this Jekyll and Hyde soil would not allow it….what was I missing here, HF coils have always been my “go to choice” on ancient sites.
I could have easily used the X35 coil on a lower frequency, but I wasn’t going to be beaten, so it was a case of using the HF round coil and thrash this thing out !
I knew sensitivity and reactivity were not the cure, although reactivity at 4 using the HOT program was indeed the best option. It was not EMI because with the coil in the air it was silent.
My next choice was ground balance, although reluctant to adjust because the mineralization bar was only showing 1 block showing the mineralization was low, I made some experiments, all to no avail.

Paul came over for a chat, and said are you going to detect or just press buttons all morning, he had a good point, I said to him this issue was consuming my thoughts I had to get to the bottom of it or suffer in silence.

As we parted the words “suffer in silence” bounced around in my head, I looked down at my XP Deus screen, it was still in the reactivity feature, then I noticed Expert on the bottom left, a quick press and into silencer, showing -1.
OK I thought let’s give it a try, up a couple to 2,,,,You’re kidding it’s working, now up to 4, and it had eliminated all the false signals generated by the high frequency.
I had cracked it, no more suffering in silence, the SILENCER our old forgotten friend that nobody ever contacts had just dropped by and saved the day.
I called Paul back over to confirm I wasn’t going mad, he tried it on his Deus and confirmed, this was the trick we were missing.
We had a great day with some interesting finds.

There’s a lesson for us all here, but I can’t think of it at the moment.
Here is a video of our day, and also the chance for you to win a free HF round coil.

XP Deus the ultimate test

Happy hunting Gary

Metal detecting for Roman and hammered coins

Hammered coin

Many people new to metal detecting dream about finding their first Roman and Hammered coin, a common perception is that they are missing a certain sound or signal. This is not true as the metal detector does not know the difference between a ring-pull and a Roman coin, as the very often have the same conductivity level. The metal detector just registers a target based on conductivity.
So in theory if you can find foil and ring pulls, the only thing you are missing out on is luck and possibly the correct site.
Or perhaps one or two other small elements !

Hammered coin

Choosing the right frequency

Some hammered and Roman coins sound shorter due to their size, and this is when using a higher frequency can really be a bonus, something higher than 11Khz normally does the job.

Let’s assume your frequency is within the desired band, and you know you are in a good area, it’s time to look at your search technique, many of us think we have a perfect sweep, but in reality it’s either to fast, to slow or to high, so try and pay extra attention to the basics.

man metal detecting

Detector Vs site conditions

If you are on an area of ancient habitation, you will without doubt be confronted with lots of Iron, and this will be your biggest hurdle. If your detector has a slow sluggish recovery speed, your chances will be dramatically reduced, cheaper American metal detectors such as the Garrett Ace, are renowned for struggling amongst iron due to their slow recovery rate, but I guess you get what you pay for.

The more refined detectors have an adjustable recovery rate, along with many other very important features.

Recovery speed

For those not aware of recovery speed, or reactivity, it is the time it takes for a metal detector to re-set it’self after reporting a target, very much like camera snapshots in burst mode.
Basically, if you have a good metal detector, you are on some ancient land and your search technique is sharp, your turn will come.

Searching for Roman coins video

Can you get rich by metal detecting

In these times of lockdown, how do I survive is a question many people have been asking, can I make money metal detecting?
This all sounds very exciting and straight forward, you simply buy a detector for a couple of hundred quid and you are on the road to a pay day….Right !
We all like to make a little extra cash, but take it from me, someone who has been in this hobbyfor many many years, your chances of making thousands if not millions is highly unlikely, very much like winning a lottery.

XP Deus one of the top metal detectors

Sure you can be rewarded by metal detecting but the rewards are more like small wins compared to the big pay out !

A professional metal detectorist at work

Did you know : Most professional metal detectorists do not like to use the term “Treasure Hunting”
If you are lucky enough to find something nice and want to tell the world, just remember there is a protocol you must follow first or you may just end up in jail.
Make sure you have an agreement with the land owner, if you are searching with a group or club, make sure they have an agreement in place and permission to search from the land owner, not the tenant farmer.
Then your find must be reported to your finds liaison officer who will record your find and take the find to the museum under the portable antiquity scheme. If your find is of no interest to them it will be returned with provenance so you can then do as you wish with it.

Make sure group dig organisers have permission

If you intend to go out metal detecting just to make money I am pretty sure you will be disappointed, if you talk with seasoned detectorists, very few will discuss monetary value of finds because this is not why they detect.
Detecting on the beach for spendable coinage is great sport, but please remember it really is a world away from saving history.
Check out the Metal Detecting Skill School video page for some excellent tutorials and metal detecting masterclasses

Hunting the Romans with Paul and Gary

Imagine this frustrating situation, Paul had some fantastic land for metal detecting, he knew there were Roman coins and artecacts lying just beneath the surface but he knew his machine was not performing as well as it should, his XP Deus was very un-settled on this land and he could feel he was not getting the best out of it.

After weeks of frustration and watching the Metal Detector tuitional videos Paul asked for help on the Metal Detecting Skill School Facebook Community, he got a message back from Gary at XP and arranged for a visit to perhaps find out why his XP Deus wasn’t finding the Roman treasures, Paul understood metal detectors very well and regularly uses the Minelab Equinox on his pasture sites, but for some reason the XP gave a lot of false signals.
Could it be the high water table or even the fertilizer that has been used over the years.

After a short while and carrying out some simple tests, Gary had found the solution to Pauls problem.

He asked Paul what adjustments he had made in order to combat the false signals, Paul ran through the list and the one setting he missed out was the setting that was required.
After adjusting the SILENCER fro -1 to 3 the field came alive with targets, and indeed some really cool Roman coins.

Catch up with Gary and Paul in the field and see how their metal detecting adventure went.

DJI Osmo Pocket – Don’t buy it

Unless you have a phone that supports USB C or an Apple lightning adaptor.

What does this mean ?
Well basically any smart phone more than 18 months old , for example a Samsung S7 Edge or before is not compatible with this phone, that’s probably 30% of the blogger population.

DJI Osmo Pocket adaptors are not compatible with Micro USB YOU have been warned

If you read the blogs and watch the videos they all say the DJI Osmo Pocket can be used without a phone, that’s total bullshit as I have recently found out myself.

OK I hear you say just buy a Micro USB to USB type C adaptor – Sadly no can do, as the DJI Pocket has a unique custom made dongle that attaches the phone to the unit (Type C or Lightning), if you used a lead you would have the camera in one hand and the phone in the other.

Be warned if you buy a DJI Osmo Pocket make sure you read this review

Here’s my story

I got the DJI Pocket because it could be used without a phone as it has it’s own screen and controls, little did I know You can not even use DJI Pocket without initiating it via the Mimo App, which needs to be plugged into your phone. So if you have a Micro USB phone your stuffed.

DJI Osmo Pocket advert on Amazon is very mis-leading

I purchased this gimbal camera from Amazon where it clearly states a Micro USB adaptor is available, when I called DJI Help Line they confirmed there is no such adaptor.
How hard would it be to make a Micro USB adaptor, just like the other 2 supplied with the kit, how much would it cost…. A Dollar perhaps !

You can not use the DJI Osmo Pocket without using a compatible smart phone

DJI shame on you for not thinking about all customers, your Amazon advert is clearly incorrect with no mention of the lack of Micro USB support.
DJI said that I could always use the wireless module for an extra £53 but they are out of stock until further notice.

The Bloggers should be ashamed of themselves for not being honest about the pro’s and con’s of this product.
But after all they have been given a free product.
If you are experiencing problems drop DJI Support an e mail at :

XP Deus Team USA | video podcast

We are pleased to announce the XP Deus Team USA metal detecting podcast is now live, the show will be online every month with new guests and a range of XP topics form technical advice to comedy.
The Show is hosted by Mike Counter and Dave DiNatale backed up by their strong team behind the scenes.

XP Deus Team USA banner
Show number 1 features a wide variety of topics and videos from some of the XP Deus Team USA members,
XP Soya talks about her finds and why she chose an XP Deus.

XP Sonya talks about metal detecting with the XP Deus
Carol also known as the She Detector talks about hunting on a Florida beach.

Using the XP Deus on a Florida beach
Hollywood comedian Todd Roy shows us how important research is and never to bring a non detecting friend along with you.

Todd Roy offers advice and metal detecting tips
Gary from XP talks about the history of the company and how they got started. He also interviews Darcy Fear who was on vacation from Canada to the UK and found an amazing civil war hoard.

Gary interviews Darcy who found ancient coins while metal detecting in the UK
Later in the show it’s back to the UK to catch up with Gary Cook and Steve Murtey as the live dig some interesting coins.

UK metal detectorists hunt for Roman treasure
Steve Graap, one of the shows producers talks about the best way to make detecting videos and gives some interesting tips.

Steve Graap talks about filming your metal detecting adventures

Enough said guys here is the show, and remember if you want to be a part of the XP Deus Team drop them a line via Facebook or e mail.
XP Deus Team USA Facebook link

SJCam SJ600 Legend my experience

SJcam SJ600 legend, this is my experience and my personal opinion.

Having watched excellent video reviews, I decided to buy an SJCAM sj6 Legend, on paper it looked perfect, but before I purchased I wanted to ask a few questions about it and will it be suitable for my needs.
At that point I should have taken the warnings, the UK number for aftersales just rings on to an answerphone.
So your only support is forums and social media, and as we all know that is a minefield, who is genuine and who has been given products in exchange for glowing reports.

I eventually purchased a camera from Amazon for around £135, plus the extra batteries, a remote controller and an external microphone.
The plan was to find a small camera that I could carry around and film my metal detecting videos, with good image quality and stabilisation, plus the external microphone should enhance the audio quality. This was not intended to replace my Sony PXW X70 or my Sony NX30, I was under no illusions that this camera was going to set new standards, what I wanted was a Go pro replacement for a fraction of the money, just like the reviews had stated, but what I eventually go was a headache and a lot of waisted time and money.

I upgraded the software to the latest version and made some necessary changes to the menu settings.
My first time out into the field was a total disaster, the battery only gave me 15 mins filming time, the plastic mount snapped in half, and when I arrived home and downloaded the video.

The lens
I could not believe the fish eye distortion even in narrow view,  all my footage was unusable, so that was my first trip scrapped.

The Accessories I purchased

The wrist mounted remote control connected well, but you never know if it’s filming or not, the only way is to look at the front screen, while I am on the subject of the front screen, the reviews I watched gave me the impression that the front screen would show the image, like the rear screen, this is not true, it only shows the film timer. So if you are doing a piece to camera, be prepared to have your head chopped off because there is no way of telling if you are in frame.
Once again, if there was a chance to talk with someone on the telephone this would have been one of my questions.

The rear screen is very handy and the settings can be easily reached, the FOV (field of view) option is greyed out when you have certain settings enabled, I did find on several occasions the camera had a mind of it’s own and switched from video to stills, so you thought you were filming but you actually took a picture.

The monitor at the rear is pretty unusable in sunlight, there are lots of shadows.

The buttons on the unit are pretty self explanatory, the external microphone plugs in to the Mini USB slot, and to the side is the Micro SD card slot

While we are on the subject of pictures, the picture image quality is on par with a set of crayons.

Stills of my XP Deus

This is set to the maximum size, which I feel is simply not good enough.

Stills of our vehicles

Today I decided to give the SJCAM a second try with the external microphone, and armed with an extra 2 batteries, and once again another epic disaster, once again, I had a bunch of stills when I should have had video and the audio quality from the external microphone was either choppy or clipped.

I will let you decide if the audio from the external microphone is acceptable.

That’s it for me, the SJCAM SJ6 legend is not the tool for the job, what really annoyed me was the lack of customer support, if there is support out there it needs to be made more accessable.
I refuse to give it any more head space, this lesson cost me just under £200.

Klaas John Botas a detectorist and artist

Gary interviews Klaas John Botas

Many of you may have seen or personally know Klaas, he’s a dedicated detectorist and always follows his heart and soul, Klaas John has such a presence you cannot fail to enjoy his company.
Although living in The Netherlands he visits Englands detecting fields on a regular basis and has been doing this for over 25 years.
Pic Klaa and Gary

Klaas John has a very special relationship with the UK. He regularly attends rallies and meetings all over the country.

He is Born from an English father and a Dutch mother, who met in the Netherlands just after the second world war.
In the Netherlands Klaas John is involved with the Dutch Detecting Association, who work very closely with the PAN, the Dutch equivalent to our PAS. He started as a member of board and nowadays he’s a writer for the Dutch Detecting magazine. Although officially retired as a member of board, he’s still involved in the clubs well-being; whenever there is a problem, he is always around to help.

Recently the Dutch Detecting Association knighted him as a honourable member. Klaas John is one of only 6 Honourable members in the Netherlands.

I managed to grab a coffee with Klaas John while visiting the Netherlands and wanted to share this interview.

Gary : Klaas John when did you start detecting?
For me detecting started at  a young age, I must have only been around 10 years old, I saved up to buy my first detector and was hooked on the hobby immediately. Throughout the years I have worked with all kinds of detectors from various brands.

Gary : I Know the answer but please tell the readers what your “Go to” machine is”
Nowadays my workhorse is the XP Deus with the 11 inch coil or the HF coil. I really love the machine, and think it’s almost perfect….. I know, almost !
Yes, there is always room for improvement, but for me that’s mainly on small things. I really love the way XP got things figured out. With the right program and settings you can go on almost any kind of terrain. When people ask me what kind of detector I use or what is the best program, I just return there question. I see a lot of ‘uncertain’ detectorists out there, and in many cases uncertainty can bring failure.
If the person detecting next to you finds a Gold ring.. It doesn’t mean you’ve got the wrong settings or machine. Just take your time to learn what your machine is capable of. If a program or detector works for me, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Give it, and yourself time to learn how to detect with what detector and which setting.”

Gary : What has been your most memorable find?

Over the years I have been lucky enough to make many spectacular finds; Silver, Gold, Hoards.

“My Anglo Saxon coin of Cynethryth, wife of King Offa is my most memorable. I still remember when I found it many moons ago. When I first held it in my hands I knew right away this was something special. When I recorded it they told me that it was only the second one known to exist, the other one was in the British museum, being in a more poor state. That’s when I get a buzz, knowing that you have added something to the heritage of the country. The fact that afterwards an object may have to be sold doesn’t concern me, It’s the feeling of recovering it after a long day of stubble bashing that will always be in my heard. The find after recovering it simply becomes an object, the feeling of finding it stays with you for life.”

Gary : I would love to know more about what do you do for a living?
I work as an artist under the name Botas. I am a painter and a sculpture. My paintings can best be described as modern symbolism; I like to combine elements of Cubism and Pop-art and in my paintings you see old symbols, which we can also see in our hobby, they can used to tell the story of the painting.

Gary: Why painting?
Painting has become my form of expression. Over the years I have taught myself various techniques and even invented some. Some of my work is recognizable by its bright colours and the use of powerful black outlines.

These powerful black outlines are painted in the traditional Japanese Shodō style;  “There is only one chance to create the perfect line with the brush. The brush strokes cannot be corrected. Even the smallest lack of confidence shows in the work. These brush strokes write a statement about me at that moment of time”. One of my latest works is ’80 years after’ Picasso made in 1937 his work about the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish civil war on the town of Guernica, this painting tells us 80 years forward, that not much has changed in the world.

“In this painting I wanted to express my feelings about the of the civil war in Syria, not only for the country itself, but also the consequences on a global scale. While the Arab spring flows like a wave over the Arab countries, these freeing waves are becoming bloody civil wars. Various groups in Syria are killing each other on the basis of their religion or origin. The major powers start to interfere in the fight, because they fight a war against terrorism and these terrorists have their Caliphate in Syria.”
The painting is painted in Symbolist style and tells you about the fight in Syria against its own people and foreign countries. The Arab spring is visible on the basis of the tottering ‘hand of Fatima flowers’. The three-unit soldiers stand for murder of opponents, suppression of the people (the veil) and attacks abroad. While the Sun is going down as a sign of a dark age, the effects are also noticeable in the West. The attack on the Office of Charlie Hebdo also enables our freedom of expression. In our own country the anti-Semitism seems to grow again. Many boats full of refugees making the journey across the Mediterranean in the hope (anchor) of a better future. The great powers, America and Russia are opponents again, America seizes over this war against terrorism with great force Russia puts its sickle onto the neck of America because they are supporting the reign of president Assad. This massive work, size: 245 x 110 x 4 cm is painted in Acrylic on Canvas.

Gary : Tell us about the Spooneys?

Besides painting I work on little sculptures called Spooney’s. It all started with a wood block and some spoons and  the first Spooney was born. This first Spooney gave me the idea to literally build my own world. A happy, positive and colourful world was to be.

Since then, there have been many Spooney’s made. Each Spooney’s is unique and is part of SpooneyWorld. A world full of fun, crazy, surprising, exciting and fun events. The Spooney’s are made of wood, metal and kitchenware.

In this SpooneyWorld you can see that I have even included my beloved detecting hobby along in it, as you have seen Gary detecting Spooney’s are being born on a regular basis. The detecting Spooney’s are collected by many of my detecting friends across the world.

John Spooney with his XP Deus metal detector is our latest addition, I am very pleased with the way he has turned out.

Gary : What are your dreams / goals for the future?
“For the hobby I hope I and It will be possible to go out detecting every now and then and see my friends here and across the pond, basically just having a good time. My biggest dream for my work is to make a animation movie with the Spooney’s, for young and old. Tell people great stories about life itself with humour and a tear. A bit like you can see what the Aardman studio’s are doing. Maybe I should get in touch with them” Klaas John smiles.

Gary : As always my friend it has been great talking with you, I very much look forward to meeting up again very soon.

If you like to follow Klaas John Botas or want to know more about his artworks or Detecting Spooney’s, please feel free to use one of these links below.


Official website Artworks:

Official website Detecting Spooney’s:

Instagram Artworks:

Instagram Spooney’s:

Facebook Spooneyworld:

Facebook Klaas-John: