Rangefinders: why you need one when archery hunting

Don’t leave out this important piece of gear

For many months, deer hunters have looked forward to the opening day of bow season. It’s almost here. Now it’s time to get that big buck on the ground and off to the taxidermist. But archers need to be prepared for this on several different levels.

Hunters in the Carolinas have invested countless hours planting food plots, scouting, and capturing detailed surveillance photos of deer. And they’ve done it to develop a foolproof strategy to open the season successfully. They’ve also slung hundreds of arrows into foam targets at various distances. But how many can accurately measure distance without a measuring device?

Many archers can group arrows into golf ball-sized targets from 10 yards to 40 yards out. But knowing the exact distance is a key component to precise and accurate shots. And a rangefinder is must-have gear for the archer.

Rangefinders come in various shapes and sizes. Most are capable of producing accurate readings to very long distances, and most come with optical zooms and the works. Extended-range units have been embraced by western varmint or big-game hunters. They can help hunters make 1,000-yard shots across a valley on a neighboring mountain top. Sig Sauer makes a Kilo unit that comes equipped with an optical zoom and Lightwave DSP technology. This will accurately range targets out to two miles.

Don’t look at rangefinders as extra gear

Rangefinders are great tools for bowhunters to remove the variable of guessing the distance of a possible shot.

Bowhunters need accurate readings on a much-smaller scale, typically out to 50 yards. With readings accurate to one yard, an optical zoom isn’t as important.

High-end and economic options are available that can fill a bowhunter’s needs. Archers need a rangefinder that will provide corrected distances based on vertical adjustments. And they want one that is highly portable.

Bowhunters have tons of gear to drag into the tree stand. But a rangefinder doesn’t need to be much bigger than palm-sized to get the job done. A unit that can fit inside a shirt pocket is ideal.

Nine out of 10 bowhunters will be hunting from elevated positions. A standard, horizontal rangefinder will not take into account the vertical distance. Most late-model rangefinders developed for hunting have built-in inclinometers. And that’s important to make sure the range results are true distances that compensate for the elevation from a tree stand or terrain.

Rangefinders may seem like extra gear for some hunters. But avid bowhunter trying to close the deal on a trophy buck understand their value. They will eliminate the distance variable to make an accurate sight-pin choice.

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