Before advance hunting tech was accessible and affordable to everyone, laser rangefinders were one of the best kept secrets only the elite can afford. LRF for short, these were expensive hunting gears that cost thousands of dollars. Despite that gold price tag, it gave huge advantage to those who had them, ramping up the game by increasing precision and accuracy over each shot.
Now there are low-priced laser rangefinders designed for long range sports. Many swear that it’s an essential gear worth investing in, and you can now find the best hunting rangefinder without breaking the bank.
What is a Laser Rangefinder?
Before laser rangefinders, there were optical rangefinders that were used to determine the distance of a faraway object from the user. To be able to calculate the accurate distance of a target is a very essential skill in hunting, archery and other long range sports. However the old rangefinders were large, and crude, and because of these reasons, not many users bring them during hunting trips.
Laser rangefinders operate on the same function but are now more affordable and give better performance compared to their optical counterparts. A single unit can now fit in your pocket and even the lowest priced ones have better ranging performance than previous optical models. The main difference now is that it’s equipped with smart and laser-precision tech, it can function as an in-scope binocular which can magnify your view of your target, and comes with other built-in features that can really make ranging easy.
How Does a Laser Rangefinder Work?
In general, a laser rangefinder is equipped with a laser beam that is emitted through a push of a button. Very much like a laser pointer, but this time it’s also equipped with the tech that can detect and measure distance for you. The invisible laser beam bounces back when it hits an object and the LRF detects the bounced beam. The sensor and chip inside calculates how fast the laser beam travelled back and forth and with that, it then determines the distance of the object from you.
Smart right? It takes off the math and guessing game on how far a target is for you – FAST and ACCURATELY.
Why is this useful? Once you know the distance of the object, you can now calibrate your hunting gear the proper power to go through the long range. It gives you the numbers you need fast, takes off a great percentage off from human error, and improves shot accuracy overall.
Think of that elusive elk that you saw on your last trip but missed because of that misplaced shot. It could have been yours and you could have brought home the bacon if only you had LRF and made better adjustments on your gear before you made that wasted shot.
Understanding Beam Divergence and Other Ranging Factors
Like all other tools we purchase, no matter how much advertised to be easy-to-use, it’s always best to read the manual first or take time to familiarize yourself with the basics on how to calibrate the equipment.
For laser rangefinders, you don’t need a science degree to operate it. However, one of the most common misconceptions is on how the laser beam and the tech inside the rangefinder works. It’s easy to say that you just need to point the laser on your target and the unit magically calculates the numbers for you.
However, not all rangefinders are created the same and there is what we call beam divergence – wherein the beam expands as the distance of the target increases. When using an LRF,
- The smaller the beam divergence, the greater ranging precision the equipment gives.
- You should always focus the entire beam on your intended and not anything outside it. This way, your rangefinder can have multiple and more accurate readings for you.
- Because of beam divergence, ranging for close distances is always best for small targets, and on the other hand, ranging long distances is best for large targets like elks.
- Consider other factors that might also affect range measurement – reflective surfaces near the target, oblique surfaces (ramps, inclines), atmospheric conditions and vibrations. However there are laser rangefinders now can provide data such as degree of inclination, vertical distance and GPS.
Among these factors, the one that you can control on spot are errors caused by vibrations, the rest will depend on the LRF model and specifications. Practice holding your rangefinder on a comfortable and as much as possible, use it on a supported position. An offhand wobble can easily cause variations on numbers which can result to that mishap shot you’ll likely regret.
How can a Laser Rangefinder Improve Your Game?
Distance calculation skills takes time and practice to master. Don’t you just wish you can improve your accuracy every shot and improve you game? If yes, then invest in a good laser rangefinder that fits your needs. It can be an additional investment on your hunting gear budget but it can up your game significantly.
Apart from ranging calculations, here are other common features on laser rangefinders:
- Software with pre-loaded golf courses.
- Smart modes like PinSeekers, PinLock, shot clearance and fast focusing systems.
- Maximum Range – Choose the LRF model that have better precision ratings for your intended use. For example, some models have modes that can give better readings for targets at more than 1000 yards away if you’re into long range hunting.
- Built-in GPS to be able to coordinate and record your location.
- Horizontal or Vertical Design – Most pocket LRFs are vertical ones and are more compact than the horizontal types. However the Horizontal laser rangefinders are designed to be two-handed grip, which can provide more support on the unit and reduce hand wobbles.
- Magnification – some LRF can have up to 8X magnification that can be great for hunting targets a couple hundred yards away.
What’s the best advice when looking for the best laser rangefinder? Get the one that suits your tactical needs. The most expensive one doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for you. Don’t get too excited by the optics either. Consider mainly the sport you need it for and the smart tech inside it – golf or archery? Will it be for hunting using a bow or rifle? From there choose the model that meets the specs you need.