When metal detecting beach and sandy terrain, one essential piece of equipment is a reliable sand scoop. In this article, part two of a series on beach scoops, we will investigate deeper into the major characteristics and benefits of sand scoops.
Sand Scoops Defined
Sand scoops and water scoops are closely-related. There is some overlap in functionality between these two types of detecting gear, but each are optimized for different terrain. Sand scoops are intended for use in sifting dry sand to locate detected targets, and (depending on their features) may also be used well enough in wet sand. Water scoops are optimized for use in surf, underwater, and wet sand areas, but of course can be still be leveraged in dry sand.
A common form for Sand scoops is a simple hand-held configuration, where the handle is very short, extending not much farther than the dimensions of the bucket. This means the scoop is light weight, due to having much less total material, and makes for a simple unit. A hand-held scoop can however increase the amount of work you will do when hunting in sand. Envision that everytime you find a target, you will next need to drop down to the sand to scoop, shake, and sift for the item. Since you might not locate the target on the first scoop, this may involve a lot of switching from a standing to squatting position as you alternate between detecting and scooping. Many folks enjoy the extra workout this provides--it's up to your personal style. One additional point on the handheld scoops, is that for any type of sand that provides resistance (i.e. hard sand, rocky terrain) during digging, you can put undue stress on your hand and wrist pushing agaist the sand-over time this could cause pain or injury. A variation on the handheld scoop is the short-handled beach scoop. In this handle style, the handle extends a short distance past the scoop, which extends the distance you can reach.
Long-Handle Sand Scoops
The other style of handle for sand scoops is the so-called long handle. Long handle scoops can help you conserve energy, in that their use doesn't require as much bending down as handheld beach scoops. Handle sizes vary, but can easily be as long as 40", such as the RTG Supreme Beach Scoop, which also has another interesting feature, in that the handle length is adjustable. The best best is to choose a scoop offering a handle length that feels best to you.
Sand Scoops - Handle Angle
One interesting difference found in beach scoops with longer handles is an option on the angle. Many sand scoops feature a straight angle, where the handle extends straight back from the scoop bucket. However, some sand scoops have handles which extend at a 20-degree angle. The 20-degree angle construction is especially useful if you intend to do some wet sand work with your beach scoop (by using a scraping action, pulling towards yourself).
Many handheld scoops are built using plastic. In general, plastic scoops are not recommended, as there is too much resistance pushing the scoop into the sand. Other materials are much more recommended, such as stainless steel, galvanized steel, and aluminum. These are thinner materials, making it easier to dig. Additionally, each of these materials offers various properties that may assist you in making a choice. Stainless steel offers the most durability and resistance to corrosion, but is heavier. Galvanized has similar properties with a few differences, such as it will still corrode in sand (see Part I for a more in-depth explanation). Aluminum is a lighter metal, but is less durable. Additionally as it is more porous, wet sand will stick to it, meaning it won't slide out as well as steel varieties in this application. An aluminum bucket construction with a stainless steel tip makes a great hybrid approach.
Other Sand Scoop Features
Many scoops feature a kick plate or step plate. This enables you to safely apply pressure or kick an area on the scoop to assist in digging into the sand. In general, you are less likely to see re-informcement and pull grips on sand scoops, as those features are more useful for increasing performance in wet sand, and hence are more likely to be found in water scoops. You will notice that the holes in sand scoops tend to be smaller than those on water scoops, thus making them drain slower.
Beach Detecting Tips
After using your scoop, as a matter of maintenance, give it a freshwater washdown. Remember to cover your holes--this will prevent causing hazards to others on the beach. It goes without saying, because they are protected everywhere, but stay away from the dunes. Finally, preserve the beauty of the beach, engage in responsible detecting practices, and preserve the hobby for future generations. Have fun out there, and good luck!
Photo credit: CC License - http://www.flickr.com/photos/joebeone/