Learning How To Use A Hunting Rangefinder

Hunting and Golf rangefinders are not just for novices anymore; although it is true that once you start gaining experience in the field, it becomes easier to estimate distances without having to use a rangefinder. However, it is worth noting that newer rangefinders are capable of so much more than just measuring distances. And that brings us to the following questions: how do they work? And, can they really give you an edge while on the course?

If you are not familiar with rangefinders and how they work, then you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we will be looking at different hunting rangefinders and the technologies they use to determine range.


Rangefinders are valuable tools that players can use during a game or when practicing. These devices have evolved over the years and newer versions now even come equipped with extra features that are designed to help you improve your skills on the course. If you are not that familiar with how they work, then continue reading for a rundown on the tech each type of rangefinder available today uses.

Laser Rangefinders

Using a laser rangefinder is quite straightforward; all you need to do is point the device at your target and press the trigger on the rangefinder. Doing so sends a laser beam to your target, and within a matter of seconds, you should receive a distance reading.

However, it is worth noting that there are a few concerns with this type of rangefinder, especially when it comes to ease of use and accuracy. Some models, like the Bushnell Tour Z6 Rangefinder, are reliable, easy-to-use, and quite accurate. However, that’s often not the case when dealing with rangefinders on the lower side of the pricing scale. Most typically have a problem locking onto targets, with some even completely failing to lock onto the right target. If you can’t lock onto the correct target, you will get an inaccurate reading or an error message. Rangefinder Yard has more articles on rangefinders if you are looking for more information.

Optical Rangefinders

While optical rangefinders are not as popular as laser rangefinders, they still do a good job at calculating distances. Optical rangefinders use several lenses situated at one end of the device to zoom in on targets on the course and determine the height of a pin. Once the target (the pin) has been locked, the rangefinder then uses its built-in scale to determine the distance. How inaccurate or accurate an optical rangefinder is determined by how well you, the user, focus it on your intended target. Accuracy-wise, optical rangefinders aren’t anywhere close to what laser and GPS rangefinders offer, which explains why they’ve fallen out of favor with most golfers.

GPS Rangefinders

GPS rangefinders are quite limited since you have to pay a monthly subscription to use them as they use satellite signals to determine distance. While they are said to be much faster, users have to download golf course maps for the devices to work. To measure how far the next hole is, you take your rangefinder and point it in the direction of your target then press the trigger. Since GPS rangefinders store maps of different courses in the database, they already have the distance information from one hole to the other, which makes determining the distance easy and fast. Once you have targeted a hole, the rangefinder automatically determines the distance and displays it almost instantly. It’s this efficiency that makes them perfect for a seamless golfing experience.

GPS rangefinders are available in a variety of styles. There is the more common and more popular handheld rangefinder and then there is the GPS watch, which is quickly becoming popular as it’s easier to take from one hole to the next.

Rangefinder Technology

Of all available options, the laser rangefinder is the most popular. And that’s because users do not have to worry about downloading maps when out of state or out of town. Apart from that, there is no need to pay a subscription fee every month to use the device. Once you’ve bought the device, that’s it. If you are currently in the market searching for an affordable and convenient rangefinder, then the laser rangefinder is what you should consider getting.

However, despite the device using lasers to determine distance, the technology used is quite simple.

Laser rangefinders use technology similar to that of autofocus cameras, which project a beam of laser to a target. Once the beam hits the target, it gets reflected back to the camera, where the camera’s sensor detects it. A chip inside the sensor then measures how long it took the beam to travel to the target and return to the camera and then calculates the distance. A while back, the technology used in autofocus cameras wasn’t that accurate and was very sluggish. However, as technology has advanced, newer autofocus camera models, and laser rangefinders, of course, have benefitted from fast and more accurate sensors that make them more precise and effective.

Are Laser Rangefinders Accurate?

Laser rangefinders utilize the same tech used in autofocus cameras to determine the distance from one hole to the other. Once a target has been locked, the beam hits it and reflects back to the device. The rangefinder then calculates the distance to your target and displays this information for you to consider.

Laser rangefinders are extremely fast since laser beams move at the speed of light – which explains why you will get a reading within a matter of seconds. Compared to models made a few years ago, newer versions are more superior and offer improved accuracy. On average, even rangefinders on the lower end of the scale have an accuracy range of within 1-yard. More accurate rangefinders typically cost more than their counterparts. However, if you are serious about golfing and play in professional tournaments, then a rangefinder with a higher accuracy rating is definitely worth the extra cost.

Limitations Of Using A Laser Rangefinder

Each laser rangefinder model you will come across has a range rating that tells you how far the device’s laser can reach. Most rangefinder models have a range of 400 to 500-yards, while more expensive ones have a range of 800 to 1000-yards. Devices with higher range ratings don’t exactly specify that they are more powerful, which points more towards the quality of software and hardware the device uses. Expensive laser rangefinders are typically made using state-of-the-art technology, which means computer chips and sensors that offer more accuracy and the ability to overlook obstacles in their path to provide accurate distance readings. Cheaper rangefinders, on the other hand, tend to struggle on courses with obstacles such as brush and trees.