How Does A Laser Rangefinder Work (Quick Overview)

As you would know already, there are multifarious ways you could use your rangefinder. Be it long-range shooting for professionals or bow hunting for beginners, these rangefinders have always delivered, whether laser or optical, and we never questioned how.

The most popular way to find the distance between the target and yourself and to get the angle compensation right each time with the least margin of error, there is no exception to laser rangefinders. But have you ever wondered what is their way to do so, or more specifically, how does a laser rangefinder work? This article is dedicated to finding how.

What is a Laser Rangefinder

Before we give you a brief on how laser rangefinders work, you’ll need to know what exactly they are. For new users or hobbyists who got into the passion of archery rangefinder is a device that allows you to distance the target and pinpoint its location using laser beams. Not just this, other useful features on it increase the effectiveness of your hunting.

laser rangefinder

You can calculate the speed of the moving prey and even get measurements on the coefficients of the falling bullets with the right laser finder.

So assuming that you understand what it is in the basic form, let’s dig into this rangefinder’s working procedure.

How Does A Laser Rangefinder Work?

The working process can be explained in 4 categories:

Beam divergence

The time taken between the laser to reflect back to you is what lets you calculate the distance where the target object is situated. What it also does, is that it gives you an angular measure of the focus of the laser.

To be precise, beam divergence is the ability by which you diverge the laser beam onto the target. Some people also call it to beam dispersion. When your beam divergence is small, you get more precision in your hits.

When multiple rangefinders are of similar features, differentiating them on the basis of their laser divergence will help you differentiate in their work. Upon use, you would say that the laser beam of this rangefinder is pretty narrow. Well, that is until the rangefinder is exposed to broad daylight, making the beam diverge. The divergence occurs to such a point that objects at a far distance get somewhat covered by the width of the beam, and you get the readings of its location.

However, the readings are not always in your favor. For example, if your far target has any object made of glass, glass doesn’t reflect lasers. In that case, you won’t get any reading. Although you could bet, you saw a shiny elk!

Measurement range

The performance of your rangefinder and how it works also depends on other factors than just the working process of beam divergence. We discussed how objects with reflective properties are in your favor when hunting with laser rangefinders. But what about when you have hazy weather conditions? In that case, your laser rangefinders stop working. Also, factors that add to the vibration of the surface on which you plan to keep or stand on when hunting with a rangefinder also affect its functionality.

Analyzing Readings

Now that the rangefinder has worked with divergence and ranging from the surrounding conditions, it needs to analyze what is found, which you will get as readings on the display screen. It could be of the following kinds:

  • Closest spike eliminates the false readings, such as that of fog and rainy weather. Here, you look for the closest peak that gives minimum 2 readings of the same distance.
  • Highest spike will study all readings, pick out the largest peak and locate it as your target. This is great for perpendicular targets in similar terrain.
  • Largest cluster will analyze all readings and pick multiple readings close to one another that you will target. For example, the prey itself, the ground, the backdrop, etc.
  • Farthest spike lets you hit animals behind bushes or trees and picks up the peak farthest in your coverage area.

Selecting Modes

Now that your rangefinder is done with most of the things, you will need to pick the mode in which you want to shoot. You can shoot in normal mode or go to the bullseye mode to hit targets that are small and compact, that have faster alert signals. Or you could pick advanced modes that would let you hit targets behind the bush. And off you go with the arrow!

Using a Rangefinder in Normal Light

Like we said, using laser rangefinders in broad daylight affects its dispersion. So is this in a bad way or a good way for the hunter? It is actually not bad at all. The wavelength of a laser beam is different from normal daylight. When the rangefinder is open to the two, it leaves out unwanted frequencies and returns to you only what the beam has to offer.

using laser rangefinder

The rangefinder helps because it filters out so much of the reflected natural light of the target that you do not get bedazzled trying to figure out where it actually is because your laser rangefinder does the job!

Alternative to Laser Rangefinders

Now there is another kind of rangefinders that you will need to pay attention to besides just laser rangefinders. This is the RADAR one. It has a similar principle to the laser ones. However, you do not send focus beams to guide you to and of the target this time. Instead, you use radio signals. And the time it takes to bounce back to you gives you an indication of where the target is situated.

What’s more, this is also suited to long-range areas, as radio frequencies have a longer wavelength and emission ability than lasers. And besides a large dispersion, it is also not affected by cloudy weather or dispersed by natural light.

Final Words

So that brings us to the end of our discussion regarding how does a laser rangefinder work. We hope you understood its basics as it includes only 4 major breakdowns: beam divergence, measuring range, analyzing the result, and selecting a mode for the shoot.

We also told you how RADAR rangefinders stand above laser ones in certain areas and their working procedure as well. So here’s to hoping that you’ll make wise rangefinder decisions!

Leave a Comment