What Is a Good Rangefinder for Bow Hunting

What Is a Good Rangefinder for Bow Hunting?

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When on the hunt for rangefinders, you will often find that they are listed in two different categories: one for golfers and the other for rifle and bow hunters. While they don’t differ that much, each is designed specifically for its intended purpose. If you’re interested in decking out in camo, then you should focus on what is a good rangefinder for bow hunting.

As a basic rule, it’s essential that whichever rangefinder you do intend on purchasing, make sure that it’s the best quality that you can afford. Better models offer additional features such as multiple targeting and ranging modes along with lighted reticles.

What Is a Good Rangefinder for Bow Hunting?

To hit the target over long distances with a bow, you’ll need more than just your bare eyes. That’s why a rangefinder comes in handy. A good rangefinder is capable of offering an accurate range of measurements while sporting key characteristics:  Anti-slip grip, water resistance, optical magnification, and a practical design.

When using a rangefinder for bow hunting, accuracy matters. Every single time you aim at the target, you should be able to clearly see the target so that you can deliver precise shots.

You have a basic understanding of what a good rangefinder is, so let’s look at a basic buying guide to help you select a decent rangefinder for your hunts.

What to Look for in a Good Rangefinder?

There are a few attributes that comprise a good rangefinder. Here we break them down into parts and briefly describe each of them.

  • Laser and Reticle

The first important aspect of the rangefinder is the laser. The rangefinder shoots an invisible and tightly focused beam of light at the target and then measures the time it takes for that beam to get reflected off the target and back to the rangefinder. This is how the device calculates the distance.

Since this is a laser light, it may be affected by hazy atmospheric conditions, random objects in the light path, glare, and a target that isn’t reflective enough.  Laser rangefinders should feature a reticle that functions as another type of aiming point when you look through the rangefinder.

However, several manufacturers include LCD displays. This type of reticle makes it difficult to distinguish in low light or against dark backgrounds. There are also LED displays that are better than their LCD counterpart.

In bright conditions, they’re often overwhelmed by ambient light and can’t be seen even at the highest setting. This challenge affects all the other information that is displayed on your screen.

In our experience, you should choose one that offers the best of both worlds.  A rangefinder with a black reticle and a button for backlighting offers the ideal combination. The backlighting is far less intense than an LED display and will allow you to view all information in all conditions.

  • Distance

You’ll find that all the rangefinders sold are marketed under a name that implies the maximum readable distance that the unit is capable of covering. This labeling causes a common misconception. A unit may be marketed as a 1500-yard rangefinder. While that may be true, it means that it only reaches that distance under ideal atmospheric conditions and surfaces that aren’t highly reflective.

If you add factors like rain or a heat mirage and even a smaller target, then the range may decrease by several hundred yards. If you are trying to hunt a deer with the help of your rangefinder, then a 1500-yard rangefinder will cover one-third of that stated range.

These critical factors are something you need to consider when buying a rangefinder. Ideally, you should pick one that offers a range beyond what you think need. Even in harsh conditions the rangefinder will work well and minimize your frustration.

It’s also highly recommended to always check out the manufacturer’s specifications on the rangefinder to get a better idea of realistic expectations.

  • Priority Modes

A rangefinder comes with priority differences, and this depends on how they were designed. You can choose between first priority rangefinders and second priority rangefinders.

When a rangefinder ranges the very first object in its line of sight and ignores most of the other distant objects, then the rangefinder is operating in the first priority mode. This mode is ideal for golfers since a golf course will typically provide an unobstructed view of the flag.

If you are ranging on the flag by using the first priority mode, then that will calculate the distance only to that flag and nothing else.

On the other hand, the unit operates in the second priority mode when it disregards the first object and ranges to a more distant object. This mode is what is ideal for bow hunting. This is because hunters have to range their targets through brushy clearings, woods, or agricultural fields.

Using a second priority mode rangefinder will effectively ignore all these closer objects, making it a vital function.

While you can use either one of the modes on the golf course or on a hunt, it’s best to choose the second priority mode for hunting. However, if you are looking to use both the priority modes, there are rangefinders on the market that feature first and second priority modes.

Having a rangefinder that has two priority modes will enable the user to switch between modes by using a bullseye or a pinpoint reticule. This makes using the rangefinder much more versatile.


If your sights are set on becoming a pro at bow hunting, then it’s essential to choose a good rangefinder for bow hunting. Knowing the top attributes of today’s models make it easier for you when you are on the lookout for rangefinders.  Get a decent one, and head out for a little practice.  You’ll be posting pictures of your successful hunt before you know it!

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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