The two Indian Heads and two Wheats I dug from one site are perfect examples. Suzanne and I both hit this area of the park hard. Multiple hunts, gridding, etc. But
There is definitely a mastery of the machine that comes into play, and it's taught by using it a lot. I'm a strong adherent of the coin program and the stock coil, but also by using them almost exclusively, I learn them best. We've spent over 1000 hours together, easily. Another sign that you "get" what the machine is saying is that you rarely look at the meter for an ID. Your ears tell you to dig.
On most detectors the stock program is the best way to learn. I also think sticking with one
set of tools will help you learn faster (one program, one coil, same headphones). Mastering one set of tools is better than being so-so on a bunch of tools. If you think I'm joking about the headphones, I'm not. Different phones will give the sounds different qualities.
If you are constantly hitting new sites, and cherry picking just the good signals, there's probably still quite a few things left in the ground. If you keep hitting the same old places over and over again, you're going get good at squeezing out a few more keepers. And those skills will serve you well at every site you search.
The depth meter is your friend. Deep targets are harder to detect. There's just more mass (soil and trash) between your coil and the target. What happens to deep signals is they break up and on almost all detectors the default is an iron like signal. Your machine is detecting it, but can't properly ID it, so it still beeps at you, but beeps iron-y or broken up. So if a signal is really trashy, but has a little bit of good in it and it's deep, it's worth investigating. Don't expect deep coins to give great signals, even with a bigger coil.
Another trick of the E-Trac and Pro coil is that reliability of a signal that repeats at 90 degrees is almost always something round. It may be a piece of round iron fooling you, but the detector loves things that are round. I've dug plenty of signals that did not repeat at 90 degrees, but more often than not, a signal that repeats the same (or close) at 90 degrees is worth digging. Sometimes if I like a signal but can't get a 90 degree repeat, I'll shift the position of my original scan by 30 or 45 degrees and then see if I can get a 90 degree repeat from a new angle. There may just be a piece of trash that's blocking me from getting that 90 degree repeat from my original scan.
Sometimes I get ghost signals. What sounds like a good hit, and I wave the coil over it a few times and it sounds good. (As opposed to falses which just sound good once then quit.) Falses are also more likely at the ends of your swing and may mean your sensitivity is too high. I start to do my process of short fast swings over the target and then pinpoint (to get directly over the center of the item) and the more swings and somewhere in the process the signal goes away. The good sound is gone. In these cases it is 99% always trash that the detector just needed more time to process or "think about" and decide was trash.
Why does the signal disappear? My understanding is that the E-Trac does process information with every sweep of the coil, so the more sweeps the more data it processes. It dumps the data rather quickly, as I have not noticed any lag or null. It drops the signal as soon as it gets another one, and when using the high trash density setting it will prefer any signal that is in the accepted range. So, it may sound good on your initial sweep, but then when you get over it and try to get it to repeat, it disappears. That is definitely an indication of junk or iron falsing.
It may be an iron target that you have disturbed or broken apart, or it may be deeper than you think or something very very small. I used to give up on many seemingly "empty" holes, but have since learned that the target is sometimes deeper or beyond the range of the probe. With the Sun Ray probe and auto sensitivity, the probe is not nearly powerful enough. Switch the probe to pinpoint (which is also all metal mode) and you'll get maximum sensitivity and depth and that will help. Another situation is big metal at depth. A squashed aluminum can, for example, at 15"+ is going to give you a really nice signal.
If I felt the signal was really good, I take some more dirt out of the hole. Sometimes other junk is masking or causing the signal to be off, but many times it is just deeper than I think. If it's a nail end, you'll discover the tip of the nail usually in the side of the hole.
I am often amazed at the small targets that the E-Trac picks up. Brass grommets at 7-8" can be hard to track down, even with the probe.
That said, I do give up on some holes with ghost signals, as usually it was some small iron like a brittle piece of wire or thin nail that I have disturbed and broken apart and is now undetectable. Also, depending on the site, I'll give up on targets that seem like big metal that are deeper than I want to dig.
What about double beeps? Both ends of nails will give a signal sometimes, or it can be co-located targets. Most often for me, this is co-located targets or a target on or very near the surface. A piece of trash and a coin for example. In either case, I dig the strongest signal first to get it out of the way, even if it is trash, then go after the second signal. Multiple coins several inches apart will do this too.
This can also be surface targets that sounding off on the edge of the coil. These too may pinpoint elsewhere than where you think they should be. The trouble is that the false signal is often the one that seems deeper and like a "better" target! We are all inclined to chase that one, but go after the louder, trashier one first and get it out of the way. If you have two hits in close proximity, use the pinpoint or the 90 degree X-ing of the targets to try to hone in on the louder, shallower one. Once that is out of the picture, the deeper signal will either have then disappeared or if you're lucky, the other target will now give a more accurate ID.
And there is something else too. I use the pinpoint feature ALL the time! I get a good sounding hit, I use pinpoint to hone in on the center of the signal and get right over the target. THEN, I swing over it again to get the best ID possible before I decide to dig. Many nickel sounding hits can be screened this way. Often a pulltab sounds like a good nickel, but when you get right on top of it the ID becomes the telltale repeatable 11-14 of a beavertail or a CO 23-24 of a ring tab. If it's a nickel, you'll see the telltale CO 13 come up solid or bounce around a bit.
Coins on edge or at angles will also give initial signals "off" from their true location, but pinpoint most often will give you a more correct location.
I've heard some detectorists use the philosophy of "dig all" which is great if you're in a farm field. Not so great if you're in a manicured park or lawn. Knowing your machine is probably the greatest tool to deciding what to take a chance on and dig and what to walk away from. It is definitely a balance. I know with every new machine I've purchased, I dig a lot more targets. As time goes by, my ears and brain are trained to be much better discriminators than any computerized circuitry.