When the Going Gets Tough...Get Back to Basics (Conclusion)

You know, there's a lot of talk about natural talent when it comes to people who are very successful in their chosen careers or avocations. Although talent is a real plus, I've found that it's the folks who work hardest at what they do who are the most successful over time. Nowhere is this more apparent than sports. So that's where I'll start in this post to get my message across.

Again, No "Magic Pills"

Whatever sport a person pursues there are two main qualifiers that are at the core of their efforts, be those efforts individual or team-based: 1) Fundamentals (i.e., "basics") and 2) Repetition. However as time goes by it's not unusual for players or teams to believe that they have the fundamentals down already and that endless repetition no longer serves the purpose it once did. Me? I don't agree. This is especially true as it relates to small-scale prospecting and mining. Once again, there are no "magic pills" to success, however you define it...money, status, control, power, or placer or lode gold in your poke. Great sports stars didn't get to where they are through sheer talent or by slavishly following the latest, hot-shot ideas about offensive or defensive formations, pitches against righties or lefties, or three-point attempts. They got there through a full grasp of the basics and practicing over and over and over again (repetition). So it should be for you as well.

 (It's all about practice and repetition.)

What We All Should Understand

After you've been at this mining/prospecting thing for any length of time you can be lulled into believing that you have the basics down so well that you don't even have to consciously address them any longer. Perhaps you can even be convinced that a certain new theory, method, or piece of equipment will save the day for you out in the field. While it's always good to learn something new in these regards, putting your full faith in them and forgetting about the basic approaches, techniques, and tools you first used in your mining efforts may not serve you so well. When the going gets tough people in general are going to look for easy ways out of their predicament. It's human nature, after all. But I'm here to tell you that there are NO easy ways out, no magic pills, and certainly no single piece of gear that will make you more successful if you've forgotten or deliberately abandoned the basics or fundamentals of small-scale gold mining. You folks who've been mining and prospecting for a while will certainly agree with me when I say that the group of people who most often fail to grasp this important point are newbies or "greenhorns." But we all must understand that they come into small-scale gold mining with the same fallacious beliefs and expectations that we did at one time. So they can't be held fully accountable for their belief in magic pills and potentially "easy" money in the form of natural gold. At least early on, that is. They'll learn eventually if they stick around long enough. Just as you and I did.

 (There are no substitutes for plain old hard work.)

The Solution is Simple

Basics (fundamentals) and repetition are the single-most powerful tools in your mining arsenal. Without them you are simply a lost child in the woods when t comes to getting the gold. It's a simple fact that the more you do something the better you get at it. I don't care what that is either. Mining, plumbing, driving, writing, public speaking, playing basketball...whatever. The core of anyone's success in their chosen efforts is inevitably based on their grasp of the fundamentals and endless repetition of those basic techniques, methods, and approaches. This is one thing many newbies don't understand. They often want me to give them some sort of easy-to-digest formula for putting gold in their pokes when, in fact, I can't do that for them and neither can you. The solution is really quite simple though. Learn the basics, work from a framework that includes those fundamentals, and then get your ass out into the field where you can actually prospect and mine. Over and over and over again. The more you wield that gold pan or shovel into that highbanker the better you get. Endless repetition. And it isn't only the newbies or "greenhorns" who need to adjust their thoughts and actions in this regard. Some of us with time and experience under our belts do too.

 (Shovelful after shovelful after shovelful.)

Repeat and Repeat Again

So when the going gets tough get back to the basics. Forget that new piece of equipment for now. Throwing folding green at a mining problem rarely solves it unless you're a commercial miner and even then it's a shaky proposition. Take a deep breath and remember the fundamentals that brought you your first glimmer of yellow. Then repeat the basic methods that were part of that process. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater ain't a solution folks. Getting back to basics is. Once you're back on track with the fundamentals as your core operating procedure then...and only then...should you begin to figure out what newer approaches or gear are best suited to what you'd like to do.

You see, it's all about fundamentals and repetition. Not magic pills...

(c) Jim Rocha 2018

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Darn right JR!
    It's really easy to blame your equipment when you are not finding any gold.....you start looking at that new magic piece of equipment for sale somewhere that guarantees to make you rich. Only you don't really need it.
    The single most helpful trick I have found is the "Lead Shot Test". Count out a few pieces of lead shot, throw them in your sluice box, gold pan or whatever....if you don't loose any, your gear is working fine and you don't need anything new. I've even done this with that tiny lead shot from 22 long rifle shot shells......my home made stuff works fine. Either the gold isn't there, or I'm looking in the wrong spot. It's hard to admit that it isn't my gear, it's me. Gary

  2. Excellent method to find out if you're losing anything of substance Gary!


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