How to Use a Hunting Rangefinder

Take the guesswork out of your shot and use these hunting Pro Tips to learn how to use a rangefinder.

August 21, 2019

An accurate shot begins by understanding the distance between you and your target. Being certain of this measurement can help hunters place a more ethical shot on game. This can result in a cleaner harvest. Laser rangefinders can be the perfect accessory to help you confirm your shooting distances with one look through the lens.


However, to get those precise readings, you need to understand how to use this helpful hunting tool. Vortex Optics’ Chief Media Ambassador Jimmy Hamilton outlines the steps to get you one step closer to tagging your trophy. Follow along with this Pro Tips breakdown and learn how to use a rangefinder this hunting season.




Before diving into using your rangefinder, it can be helpful to brush up on how it works. Laser rangefinders operate by hitting your desired target with a laser and measuring the time it takes for that laser to return. The set speed of the laser in relation to the time it takes to travel determines your target’s distance.


Each monocular rangefinder has a maximum range, often listed in the model name. Be mindful, though, that this number represents the maximum range for reflective targets. Since popular game animals are not reflective, this number is not as accurate as it might seem. Hamilton suggests dividing the ranging max. This can better indicate how far you can measure your next trophy harvest.




“The nice thing about rangefinders is that they’re really simple and straightforward to use,” Hamilton says. Simply look through the monocular lens to see a magnified image of your target. Magnification can vary by model, usually between 5-to-7x power. Once you’ve scanned the area and located your target, go ahead and press the “measure” button.


“You’ll see a crosshair show up in your field of view, similar to like you’d see in a riflescope,” Hamilton says.


Once you’ve found and put your crosshairs on target, Hamilton says to push the measure button once more. Your hunting rangefinder will then send its laser out, measuring the distance. This measurement can help you place as accurate and ethical a shot as possible. Having the exact distance can also help you get the proper ballistics for long-range shooting. In archery hunting, your range reading can make choosing the right pin on your compound bow much easier.


Using a rangefinder can take the loose end out of your aim. Use these Pro Tips to learn how to properly use this effective hunting accessory.


Still not sure which hunting rangefinder is right for your pack? Learn how to choose the best rangefinder for hunting with more optics Pro Tips.