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I started in metal detecting back around 1971. I was only 11 years old and I could only afford a low end model from Radio Shack. It was an old bfo unit and I had some great times using it. Living in the southeast there were a lot of old farms I could detect around. I know I must have dug up a ton and a half of old iron. At the time, it was as good as gold to me.
Jump forward to the year 1999. I wanted to get back into metal detecting and was lookin around about which detector to get. I tried some local shops, but they did not want to compare units made by competitors. A local organization was having a raffle and I always like to donate to charities, so I bought a ticket. 3 weeks later I was the proud owner of a Tesoro Compadre. Let me say one thing, I thought it was a toy because of it's size. But, I tried using it any way. I was very impressed. In the yard of the house I grew up in, I found enough coins to cover the 5 dollar cost of the raffle ticket. Once I got used to using the discriminate knob, I found that I didn't have to dig all the nails in the neighborhood. I used that detector around a year before I decided to move up, but it is still being used by my neice and nephew. For a starter detector, I think it is the best on the market.
Added: Tuesday, January 22, 2008