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Finding the Right Rangefinder For You

For certain outdoor activities and occupations, you need to know exactly how far away something is. Whether you’re golfing, hunting, or planting trees, the right rangefinder gives you the data you need to make fast and accurate decisions on the spot. If you’re a golfer, that data can mean the difference between missing the green or making birdie. If you’re a hunter, it can be the difference between missing your mark or taking down a buck in a single clean shot.

Types of Rangefinders

There are several different types of rangefinders available today. Most use laser technology, which is the most common, most reliable, and most effective. They measure distance by shooting a beam of light at their target and measuring the time it takes for that light to be returned to the device. Laser rangefinders are ideal for every scenario, whether you’re golfing or hunting.

Beyond this, the type of rangefinder you choose should depend largely on how you plan to use it, because different types of rangefinders have unique features that optimize them for specific activities and environments. Golf rangefinders, for example, are designed to focus precisely on the green, hole, or flag and ignore all other background activity. Hunting rangefinders, meanwhile, are designed to distinguish between branches in the foreground and the animal you’re aiming at in the background.

Can you use a hunting rangefinder on the golf course, and a golf rangefinder in the bush? Of course, but for the best experience and most reliable readings, look to get a rangefinder that best suits the activity you’re planning.

Features to Look for in a Rangefinder

To find the best rangefinder for your needs, look for some of the following features. Some will be better suited to specific situations, while others are useful for a variety of scenarios.

Target Priority

This is a common feature in hunting rangefinders. It allows the device to ignore foreground elements, such as branches, and focus on an animal in the background. This provides you with the precise data you need to adjust your rifle scope and make a perfect shot.

Ruggedized Design

If you’re heading out into the bush for a hunting or surveying trip, it’s helpful to have a rangefinder that can stand up to the elements. These rangefinders are typically waterproof and build tough enough to survive accidental drops.

Maximum Range

This will also depend on your usage. If you’re golfing then a range of 600 to 800 yards will suffice. If you’re hunting, you may need something with even greater range. Keep in mind that at great distances, it can be difficult to keep the rangefinder steady and on target. 

Advanced Data Analysis

All rangefinders will tell you how far away a specific object is, but some will tell you much more, including slope, wind speed, and air pressure. This information can help you pick a club on the golf course, or adjust your scope when hunting.

Rangefinders vs. Spotting Scopes

Sometimes you want to minimize the gear in your pack. So do you really need both a rangefinder and a spotting scope? The short answer is no, but it’s helpful to assess your needs and consider the pros and cons of each device. Rangefinders are highly precise but lack the magnification power of spotting scopes. Some spotting scopes are equipped with reticles to help you manually estimate the distance to an object or faraway spot. Many hunters use a combination of both when possible.