What Is a Rangefinder? The Purpose and How It Helps Your Shot

What is a rangefinder? If you’re new to hunting, this is among the many questions that may be going through your mind. Most people believe a rangefinder is a luxury hunting item you don’t need, especially if you have an excellent eye for distance. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.




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Nowadays, there are a plethora of tools you can use to take your hunting game to the next level. And if you’ve been planning to start hunting for a long time, you probably know the basic optics tools you need.

Almost every hunter will have a spotting scope and a pair of binoculars. But most hunters don’t believe a rangefinder is a priority. And this begs the question, what is a rangefinder, and how does it help your hunting game?

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A rangefinder is a device used in hunting to measure the distance from the observer to a target. This process is known as ranging.



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Now that you have the answer to, “what is a rangefinder?” you may also be wondering how to use this device for hunting.

The good news is, a rangefinder is a hassle-free device, and you won’t need prior experience to get the hang of it.

At the press of a button, this device bounces a laser beam off your target. An internal clock then calculates the time the beam takes to reach the destination and back. Afterward, the clock calculates the total distance to within plus or minus 1 yard or less and displays the range on an LCD display.

At this point, all you have to do is to check the results and act accordingly.


So what is a rangefinder for if you have an excellent eye for distance and never miss a target? If you’re an experienced hunter, it’s not difficult to understand why you’d dismiss a rangefinder.

It seems like a simple gadget you can do without. But it’s not. A rangefinder can be the difference between filling your tag and walking home empty-handed.

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You see, even the most experienced hunter can make bad judgments. But with this device at your disposal, you never have to worry about that. And that’s not the only benefit you get from using a rangefinder!

Learn your load

A rangefinder is not only useful for actual hunting but can also be a handy tool when you’re practicing. As a hunter, it’s crucial to take notes of your rifle and load’s drop data.

And a rangefinder can help you do this. Set your targets at different distances and begin shooting. Use the rangefinder to get an accurate range to your goal. You can then observe ballistic drops and rises at different lengths.

This process allows you to know your rifle’s abilities before going out into the field for the real action.


The primary feature of a rangefinder is providing an accurate distance between you and your target, thereby eliminating any guesswork. And if you’re a hunter with integrity, this is something you will appreciate.

With accurate results, you’re more likely to make a clean shot and avoid tracking a wounded animal, which only inflicts unnecessary pain. Therefore, if you don’t want to miss, a rangefinder will guarantee you don’t.


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In an ideal world, you’d always have just the perfect amount of time to range your target and take a clean shot. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes, a deer may come out of nowhere and surprise you. In such cases, you may not have time to pull out your rangefinder.

But if you have experience using a rangefinder, this shouldn’t be a problem. Frequent use of this device improves your estimating skills. As a result, you’re in a better position to estimate accurate distances for when those unexpected but lucky surprises come your way.


You have eyes on your prey, and you’re ready to take your shot, but the snap of a twig gives you away. Just like that, you’ve lost your chance. Every hunter knows this story all too well. They also know that it can take you hours to get another chance.

And that’s where a rangefinder comes in. This device allows you to get closer to your prey without moving an inch. And the best part? Rangefinders have different ranges. Bowhunting rangefinders, for instance, have a maximum range of about 800 yards.

Rifle hunting rangefinders, on the other hand, can have a range of between 600 and 1,300 yards. It’s therefore easy to find the best rangefinders for your needs. And when you do, you can rest assured your hunting game won’t be the same again.

telescope position

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So, you’re excited to go on your big hunting trip, and you have a few ideas of hot spots you should try. Why not take your rangefinder for a test run and scout the area before your hunt?

When you come across the right hunting spots, you can mark them or take note of landmarks so that they’re easier to find when you start hunting. Use the rangefinder to get the distance estimate in each area before proceeding to the next.

With this approach, your actual hunting day will be so much easier. You’ll not only know where to begin but also where to aim, which is a bonus if you’re planning to hunt early in the morning or late at night.


Hunting in steep terrains can be a pain in the rear end. When you’re on a decline or incline, your target not only looks further away but is in real sense further away from the actual distance you want to aim.

No matter how good you are at math, it can be a challenge to calculate the actual correction values and an accurate shot angle to ensure drag and gravity don’t interfere with your flight path.

With a rangefinder, you get an accurate horizontal distance so that you don’t aim too high or too low or miss your shot and lose an arrow.


Using a rangefinder also reduces the likelihood of hitting something else when aiming for your target. However, even with an accurate distance estimation, there’s a high chance of hitting a rock or branch.

And because most rangefinders give you the distance to the furthest target, you may not notice the interferences on the way. But there’s a way around this.

You need to pay attention to the features that display your shot clearance. Such features highlight the area from the center of your exact horizontal distance to the highest point the arrow will fly.

The area will expose any possible obstructions, thereby making it easier for you to make a clean shot.


Another great benefit of a rangefinder is its ease of use. You don’t need prior experience or hours of practice to understand how this device works.

All you have to do is to point the laser on the target. After doing this, you can leave the rest to the rangefinder. Not to mention, this device gives you instant readings, which means using one won’t slow you down in any way.

Rangefinders are also lightweight and compact, so you don’t have to worry about increasing your load.


With a rangefinder, you’ll also never have to miss a hunt because the weather isn’t favorable. These devices can take abuse. Whether it’s raining or snowing, you can rest assured the rangefinder will deliver.

However, this benefit will depend on the quality of the rangefinder you have. One of the features you should look for is nitrogen-filled lenses, which prevent fogging.

It’s also a good idea to go for a waterproof rangefinder. Also, it’s best to go for a rangefinder with a rugged aluminum or magnesium housing. Such cases are sturdy and increase your rangefinder’s lifespan since they don’t damage easily on impact.



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If you were asking, “what is a rangefinder?”, now you know. As you can see, this tiny device comes with a lot of benefits you can’t afford to miss out on. Whether you’re a bow hunter or a rifle hunter, this device will not only improve your accuracy but also make hunting so much easier.

But to get the best experience, you need to invest in a high-quality rangefinder. Make sure you explore the features and determine whether or not the rangefinder is suited to your hunting needs before parting with your cash.

Was our answer to “what is a rangefinder?” satisfactory? Have you used a rangefinder before? If not, are you excited to start using one? Let us know in the comments section below. We love hearing from our readers.

Featured image by: Amazon

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