You've probably already found one or two benchmarks while doing something else. Now you want to go on your first benchmark hunting trip. Pick about 10 ["PID"]s to look for, preferably fairly close to each other. If you can, pick some that other people have found within the last year or so.
Print out every page of PIDs' ["datasheet"]s. Even if you intend to 'go paperless' with your benchmark hunting, it is good for your first trip to use paper. On each paper, use a highlighter or other marking method to highlight these things:
Highlight whether the PID is horizontally ["adjusted"] or ["scaled"]. On an ["NGS"] datasheet, find the horizontal (latitude and longitude) coordinates. They will probably be around the 9th of the lines that start with the PID. After the coordinates will be a word in capital letters - either ADJUSTED or SCALED. On a geocaching datasheet, 2 lines under the coordinates will be the words "location is". After those words, the datasheet will say either ADJUSTED or SCALED. If the mark is horizontally adjusted, its location will be much more accurate than you can measure with your ["GPS"] receiver. If the mark is horizontally scaled, its location will be off by as much as several hundred feet, but is usually within a hundred feet.
- The ["designation"] of the mark. On an NGS datasheet, on about the second line and after the word DESIGNATION, will appear the designation, the official name of the mark. On a geocaching datasheet, the designation line is the 4th line under the coordinates. In case the type of the mark is a disk, you must find a disk with this designation. Finding a disk with a different designation is not a find, even it is in the exact same spot as what you're looking for.
- The most recent to-reach measurements. Each PID has a section called the recovery section, where each finding report for the PID will have a date. For this highlighting exercise, read these recoveries from newest to oldest. Find the most recent one that has distances measured to local reference points. The last distance mentioned is the closest to the mark and is therefore the most important (assuming it still exists). When hunting, you will want to look for this last-mentioned reference point first.
These are the most important items in a datasheet. When you first visit the location of each PID, review these highlighted items.