How does a Rangefinder Work



Honestly, there’s no room for guesswork in whether hunting or golf.


Well, it’s beyond impossible to determine your distinct target range without any advanced optic. Thus, evolution has brought smart rangefinders to enhance your marksman skill.

However, your conscious mind surely wants to perceive that how does a rangefinder actually perform?

See, without decoding the underlying facts and its feature’s performance, you aren’t prone to master the techniques of using rangefinders.

Therefore, today I will provide you with the nuggets of information about how does a rangefinder work. And, let me tell you it’s gonna be quite lengthy. So, hold on to yourself and sit tight.

Nuts & Bolts

Basically, the concept of using rangefinder is to estimate a particular distance of an object. Besides, you require to determine your aim to hook your target.

However, rangefinders are able to provide a precise view through magnification and also yardage reading. Thus, you can easily see through the rangefinder camera and acquire an instant display of your target.

Well, rangefinders not only indulge in distant accuracy but also in ranging the air pressure or wind speed. Hence, using a rangefinder will be undoubtedly overwhelming whether for bow hunting or golf.

Now, I am pretty sure that you’ve heard about laser rangefinders. As, it’s used by all professionals and, also they admire it for its amazing features and consistent distant ranging.

But! Did you know that there’s another rangefinder available? Probably you do. Well, it’s the GPS rangefinder. Here GPS stands for Global Positioning System. And, its characteristics are different from laser rangefinders.

Here I will describe precisely, about both rangefinders and how they actually work.

How does the GPS Rangefinder Work?

Generally, GPS rangefinders require a distinct network of satellites for measuring the distance through the particular device to an accurate place on the course. Although the distance is ranged by the GPS rangefinder attaining signals from the sequences of that particular satellite and which later decodes the location of that device. Besides, it infers the distance towards the target.

Consideration before Using It

Before using your GPS rangefinder, you must access the satellite mapping. Because, without installing the map of your course, you can’t receive the signals from the series of satellites.

Therefore, whenever you intend to go on a course, make sure you have loaded the satellite mapping on your device. Here you need to acquire the mapping from their courses’ websites or download it.

Though, there are some devices which appear in pre-installed mapping, regarding thousands of courses.

Well, on the contrary, some GPS rangefinders require a membership fee to load the course maps.

What happens next?

After installing the satellite mapping, you are likely to load a course. So, when you load a course, your rangefinder will provide you with multiple distances to the pin on each hole.

 On the flip hand, some rangefinders offer farther information about the distance surroundings too. Such as landmarks on the courses, hazardous distance reading etc.

What are the Perks?

  1. Based-off satellite mapping.
  2. You don’t need to aim the device at one target.
  3. You can easily decode the distance between you and the pin.
  4. It even ranges the distances of your target which is blurred or hidden behind any tree or grass.
  5. Some GPS rangefinder appears with thousands of course pre-installed into it.

So, these are the perks of carrying a GPS rangefinder along your athletic journey.

Now, let’s move on to the laser rangefinders.

How does Laser Rangefinder Works?

Basically, it shoots out a laser, and it’s said that the laser travels at the speed of light and so the computer is able to figure that; it sends that laser out and hit some objects. Then it bounces back and depending on how long the distance is it comes back. Hence, you know how far the object is based-off on the light.


In other words, when you push the triggers of your laser rangefinder, it instantly spreads the laser beam to the target. Then, you can easily read-out the distance through the units which calculates the distance and appears via your rangefinder display. Here you can use the magnification feature, which will eventually magnify the view and make it more clear and broad to you.

Sneak Peeks

When you intend to use the rangefinder in bow hunting or golf, you require precision. Thus, distant yardage reading is very important and advanced display as well. Because a clear crispy view will take your game to the next level.

Now, if I talk about the magnification, it comes generally in 5x, 8x or 10x mm. But professional golfers prefer 8x or 10x magnification facility.

See you cant aim anything which you can’t see properly. Therefore, while using rangefinder magnification is a go-to.

Interestingly, when you opt for using magnification in the field, you might assume that 5x magnification will be enough to spot all the targets. Instead, if you use 8x magnification there, you might discover more targets immediately.

Besides, a quality glass can also do the math for you. Meaning the spotting scopes can mount overwhelming outcomes as well as the magnification. Still, both are sustainable.

Deal-breaker at Some Points

Well, there are some objects where your rangefinder might not stand. Because some objects are hard to measure. Imagine, if the beam is reflected on a pane or mirror what will happen? Pretty obvious that almost all of it will pass out and no counter reflection will come. Thus, distant reading will be difficult to determine.

Now, you might be thinking that what happens if I shoot at something at an angle, which is not straight up to you? Well, if you were to shoot a laser beam at an object that was at an angle, it will deflect away and not return to you.

Initially, any objects which are located in any angled motion, your rangefinder will deflect away some of the beams. Still, every surface will reflect away some available light.

See, the concept is very clear, that your rangefinder will send the laser beam at an object and that beam will bounce back to you calculating the distance in units and appear on the rangefinder display. Therefore, the importance of reflection is crucial in laser rangefinders.

Does Laser Rangefinder Gets Puzzled by Any Ambient Light?

Happily, no. Laser rangefinder doesn’t get interrupted by any ambient light because it has a specific wavelength which is completely different from the wavelength of normal light. Thus its quite easy to eradicate any ambient light from the surroundings and, also using the frequency is easy.

Gladly it sees only its own beam. Moreover, laser rangefinders work tremendously while the surroundings are full of other lights.

How It Measures the Relevant Distance to Display?

Well, laser rangefinders work at a blink of your eyes. When you trigger the rangefinder, it immediately spreads 100 or thousands of pulses at your desired object and quickly use these pulses, analyze them and bring out the most relevant distance, record it into units and shows it to your display.

So! Now as you have perceived how this rangefinder performs, I will provide you with some more facts about rangefinders.

An Instant Flashback to Oldschool Rangefinders

You must’ve heard about optical rangefinders. Well, they revolve in their own benefits.

However, they were used to determine the range of a target for artillery until the evolution of electronic rangefinder encountered their technology and made them obsolete.

Optical rangefinders had simple trigonometry to calculate the ranges. But sadly, the optics were far more complicated.

Moreover, it had its specific perks to attract marksmen earlier. Such as,

  • They didn’t get distracted by any atmospheric condition.
  • Optical rangefinders didn’t require any reflective target.

Apart from these, there are two different types of rangefinders, stereoscopic and coincidence.

The concepts were pretty simple. As the basics were the length of the rangefinder was fixed and known. The left side was for perpendicular to the target, and the right-side image was manipulated inwards by a variable angle.

By figuring out the angle, the formula would provide the range.

In a stereoscopic rangefinder, two optical wedges would be turned to bend the light until the target aligned in the left or right eyepieces.

Later, by turning the knob, the range would be indicated on the gauge.

On the flip hand, coincidental rangefinders would have only one eyepiece with the image of the target split into two.

Once, both halves of the images aligned, the range value could be found.

So, this is how optical rangefinders used to work. But

As a matter of regret, now they aren’t prevalent. Well, you might find them on an antique shop but as laser rangefinders appear in an attractive price and are available worldwide.

Initially, laser rangefinders have prolonged their smart features to acquire more demand.

More to Acknowledge about Other Range-finding

Lidar: It’s the acronym of the term light detection and ranging. So, as the name refers, this technology uses light waves or the light source to measure the distance between the object.

In other words, we can say that it is used in range-finding applications.

However, this is not a new revolutionary technology. In fact, it’s been used for last more than 50 years.

The astonishing truth is, it was used back then for measuring the distance between the moon and earth.

Still, it’s being used in many applications for numerous revolutionary purposes.

It’s been predicted that in future we will get see lidar system on your self-driving car. Awesome isn’t it?

How does Lidar work?

Well, if now you see inside of any Lidar system you will notice the laser and the detector are the two main compounds.

And, most of the Lidar system works on the principle of time of light. According to this principle, the laser in the pulse form is targeted on the object and the reflection or the scattering form is being measured by the detector.

Now, at the detector part, the timing between the transmitted pulse and the received pulses is measured.

See if you know the timing differences between the arrival and the transmitted pulse then using that mathematics speed of light×time  you/2.

Can calculate the distance between the lidar system and the object. Thus, you get the range reading.

Radar: Well, the radar system works on the equivalent terms of Ladar, that is a time of flight principle.

The difference here is, Radar uses radio waves for the measurement. As you know that Radar system is millimeter waves, while the Ladar waves are almost three order less in dimension than the radio waves.

In fact, it’s similar to laser rangefinders also. But the difference here is laser rangefinder sends its beam pulses to bounce back, and Radar sends radio waves for bouncing back.                                


The perks of using radar are, it doesn’t get altered by any ambient light or foggy weather.


Here it uses sound pulse and measures the time to determine the distance. Basically, when the sound reaches and bounces back from your target, the exact speed of that period counts for the distinct distance.


As you know that it has a high-frequency sound wave, which we can’t hear because our capacity to presume or hear the frequency is less than its frequency (20000hz)

While these sound waves hit upon an object and rebound, you require to calculate the speed and the time to determine the distance.

So, these were some other range-finding phenomena.


7 Things to Consider before Buying Rangefinders

  1. What’s your End Goal?

You can’t hook the target unless you aren’t conscious about your purpose. Therefore, first, determine clearly on why you actually need a rangefinder.

Suppose, you are dreaming of banging on in Golf or bow hunting, then you require precision rangefinders with enough distance reading and at least 8x magnification capability.

Trending precision rangefinder- wants your in.

On the contrary, if you are hoping something for long-range shooting or target shooting, then you’ll be needing something slightly different.

Thus, there’s no room for guessing why. You need to know the why in the first place. Otherwise, it will be like a boat without a radar, heading to a lost way.

  1. Can you Afford It?

Before adopting anything from online or in any store, first, make sure you are on the money. Unless you might have the rangefinder but remain broke for months. Hence, always check out the price and reconsider if you can afford it and if it’s suitable for your requirement or not.

  1. Nothing Compares to Quality

Never ever compromise quality. See you can still get the best deals on quality products at an affordable price. Therefore, before getting your rangefinder in your bag, make sure it’s offering premium quality or not.

  1. How can you Avoid the Features?

The most important thing to consider while purchasing rangefinders is to overview the features and their authenticity. Because you are spending your buck on something and it has to be on the money and your requirement too. Thus, look upon the features and their performance.

  1. Don’t Miss to Check its Durability.

Imagine you are enjoying your hunting journey and meanwhile your rangefinder stopped working. Pathetic! Isn’t it? Therefore, pick something which at least provides enough durability. Hence it can overwhelm you again and again and provides you with a long run.

  1. Comfort Comes First

Well, honestly, I sometimes dream of lying on my couch and do all stuff. Yeah!  Not even kidding. See comfort is something we all crave for. Thus, you need to look for portability. Because your rangefinder shouldn’t be overweighed to carry along and move on to another place. In fact, there is some rangefinder which fits in your pocket easily. Wait, can’t believe?  Check this out

  1. Try to avoid Cr2 Batteries

It’s still okay to carry expensive Cr2 batteries for your rangefinder, but you can still have rechargeable rangefinders which appear at an inexpensive price.


Aha! That’s a wrap. Thank you for sticking that long with me. And I will assume that you aren’t bored yet (for my own consolation).

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