How Does A Rangefinder Work

Shooting is a wonderful sport, but it is also an artform. You have to take into account a number of factors from distance to wind. Sometimes you learn to judge these various aspects using your senses, other times you employ tools. One of the tools that many shooters turn to is range finders. Being able to use a range finder includes knowing how they work.

Today we are going to discuss rangefinders and how they work. Knowing this will help you to better master their use. It will also help you to gauge when to use one and when the information you are getting might be compromised from misuse or the wrong environment.

What Is A Rangefinder?

How Does A Rangefinder Work

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As the name implies, a range finder is a tool that is employed to determine the distance from a person to an object. While you may encounter a lot of different rangefinder brands out in the world, most of them work using the same principle, a laser. You may see a laser rangefinder referred to as a LRF.

How Does A Rangefinder Work?

Hearing that a rangefinder uses a laser people either think that it is very simple or very complicated. The explanation behind the technology is quite simple. A LRF emits a laser from a point in the device. This laser is sent downrange at the target. When the laser hits your target the signal bounces back to a receiver on the unit.

Scientists have established how long it takes a laser to travel. When the receiver takes that signal, the time that it takes to send and then receive back the signal is calculated then converted into distance. Your range finder will then display the distance to you on a display.

Depending on the make and model of LRF that you have, you can usually change the display to show different distance measurements.

You will find that there will be some variation in performance among laser rangefinders depending on the brand, model, and year. Various different implementations of LRF work better than others. Typically, you will notice almost identical performance when you choose a LRF from a top brand. As such, when the shot matters, we always recommend looking for the best brand you can find.

How to Use a Laser Range Finder?

At the most basic you take your laser rangefinder and point it at your target, making sure to get the reticle to a solid point on the target. Press the range finding button once you feel as if you are on target. The device will return you a distance reading. This is only the simplest use of the device though.

To get the most accurate reading from your LRF you will want to learn about the different features of your laser rangefinder. The manual from your device will help you to find the specific features and how to use them. Fog, rain (even drizzle), and other such atmospheric issues can cause problems for your rangefinder. Utilizing features of your LRF will help to compensate for various environmental and user factors.

Another great way to ensure you get the most accurate measurements possible is to spend time checking distances from your shooting spot to various objects around you. Try to find noticeable objects such as trees with distinguishable features.

Factors to Consider When Using a Laser Rangefinder

Learning about the various factors that can interfere with a laser rangefinder will help you to better use it. The LRF will become a valuable tool in your kit. At the same time the laser rangefinder is a tool that may not be best suited for every situation. The information you are about to read will also help you to determine whether or not you should employ your rangefinder.

Clear View of Target

A laser rangefinder works best when you can get a completely unobstructed view of your target. Mist, fog, and similar mostly transparent obstructions may be able to be compensated for. Other issues such as branches will obstruct the beam of the laser.

The magnification and glass of your LRF can also make a real difference in getting a clear view of the target. If you can’t see the target in the first place, you won’t be able to get a laser to it. Determine how far out you will want to be able to see and get the appropriate magnification level. Also look for a LRF that has quality glass behind it.

Quality Laser

Being able to reach out to your target with the laser is important when trying to use an LRF to find distance to target. Poor quality lasers will experience problems when trying to travel over distance. Look for a powerful laser that is able to push out to the distances you want to shoot at.

A high-quality laser will also help you to compensate for fog and other obstructions.

Size of the Laser Receiver

The receiver that your unit utilizes is known as an aperture. The larger that the aperture is, the more information that it is able to collect. If you plan to use a smaller aperture unit, know that you will not be receiving as much data for the LRF to process.

Size of Target

Target size plays a big role in the ability for the unit to gather a proper distance reading. The larger a target is, the more likely that the beam will actually be able to hit the target and return accurate measurements. All of the various factors that can mess with the beam of a laser can also cause the laser to diverge from where you are targeting. At distance, even a small amount of interference can make a difference at range.

Vibration of Platform

A platform that is moving at all or otherwise exposed to vibration will interfere with the ability for a laser rangefinder to work properly. The LRF may not be able to get the signal back. If it does get the signal back, chances are that the accuracy will be poor.

Take all of these factors into account when trying to shoot with a laser rangefinder. One of the most important things you can do though is to get a quality laser rangefinder that is specifically designed for the purpose that you are getting it for. For example, don’t buy a golf laser rangefinder instead of a shooting one. This will allow you to get the best results and the information you need for your purpose.

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