How Does a Rangefinder Work

How Does a Laser Rangefinder Work? A Complete Guide

As you know it is a time of modern technology, you will get comfort and convenience in everything. Similarly, rangefinders are very effective gadgets to measure distance precisely. But if you have not used it before, you might ask how a rangefinder works, right?

Thus, it is not that difficult to utilize a rangefinder as you only need to know some basic steps. If it is a laser rangefinder, it will work using a light beam. If it is an optical rangefinder, it works by utilizing the parallax principles.

Sonar rangefinders work using a sound pulse and Lidar rangefinders work using the principle or laser rangefinder.

Also, there are other rangefinders available in the market that works differently. Let’s have a look at their working of them.

What are the Different Types of Rangefinders?

While all rangefinders do not operate on a similar principle, you will have to consider all. Different rangefinders have unique implementation strategies and intended uses.

The technology used in rangefinders is now become more modern and performs better than other types in terms of portability.

To fully comprehend the rangefinder uses and operations, let’s dive in and find some of the most famous rangefinders.

  • Laser Rangefinder (e.g. best mini rangefinders)
  • Optical Rangefinder
  • Sonar Rangefinder
  • Lidar Rangefinder
  • Radar Rangefinder

How a Laser Rangefinder Works?

In laser rangefinders, a beam of light is used to measure distance. The laser pulse of a rangefinder moves at the pace of light. When the beam strikes the object, it splits. But a significant percentage of light comes back to the target object. So, a rangefinder measures the duration in which the laser beam traveled before and after returning.

After converting from the expected time that a laser light takes, the range will be displayed on the rangefinder’s panel. In addition, the precision of the laser rangefinder is dependent on the light that is deflected by your object.

Besides that, the measurements will be more precise when the target’s reflecting area will be bigger. To improve accuracy, you might anticipate that a shiny surface will refract more laser light.

How Does an Optical Rangefinder Work?

An optical rangefinder is a monocular tool that is designed with built-in scales. When you talk about its working, it operates on the idea of parallax, which is a type of trigonometry. The optical rangefinder has made with two optics, one on each end. During usage, these optics concentrate on the item or goal that you need to measure.

The two pictures are then placed on one another using a focusing knob. The scale used to translate the measurement into the range is also adjusted within the dial. Additionally, the optical rangefinder needs to be used carefully to produce correct readings.

The precision of the reading relies on how exactly the rangefinder is pointed. So, you must position it at the needle and concentrate it carefully.

These optical rangefinders are the least expensive of the various varieties. Not only that but also these rangefinders are well-known among golfers and shooters. All you need to do is hold your gadget carefully and if you won’t handle it accurately, precision will be impacted.

How Does a Sonar Rangefinder Work?

How Does a Sonar Rangefinder Work?

This sonar rangefinder indicates sound navigation and ranging. It shows that sonar rangefinders use sound pulses to measure the distance. The sound pulse is used which then calculates the amount of time it requires for all sound waves to reach and rebound from an object.

To precisely determine the target’s location, it also evaluates the speed of sound. The sonar rangefinder also utilizes a translator, an auditory pulse producer, a series of speakers, a latency controller, an auditory sensor, and a screen.

This kind of rangefinder is also employed undersea. It is because the transmission of radio signals and the laser beam is difficult to reach there.

How Does a Radar Rangefinder Work?

How Does a Radar Rangefinder Work

Here is another rangefinder that works well to measure the distance from the target object using the same method as a laser rangefinder. They both have the same features and functions. Radar means Radio detection and ranging (RADAR).

Thus, a radar rangefinder employs a precisely focused radio wave. This kind of rangefinder spreads out the radio waves and calculates how long it requires to return to the detector. Radio waves move at the rate of light. So, the range between the radar rangefinder and the items will be calculated using the time and rate at which they return from the object.

Additionally, the radar rangefinder is ideal for measuring ranges over a long distance. It is because radio waves very slightly penetrate the substance through which they travel.

How Does a Hunting Rangefinder Work?

How Does a Hunting Rangefinder Work

A hunting rangefinder operates in the object priority mode that will be at a long distance. It ignores the nearby objects in favor of the long ranges. There are several hunting strategies to take into account that is given below.

If you are considering the long-distance shot for hunting the anticipated object, you would require a rifle with a 7x to 8x magnifying power. The hunting rangefinders have a large distance range and allow their objects to detect between 70 and 135 yards away.

A rangefinder with precise information is essential for hunting to overcome blurriness. The rangefinders used for bow hunting are built with several cutting-edge capabilities. These features include portability, minimal weight, and improved user concentration. Numerous hunting rangefinders provide helpful functions, particularly for target shooting events.

How Does Bushnell Rangefinder Work?

How Does Bushnell Rangefinder Work

A Bushnell rangefinder is a GPS tracker that you can carry and provides location information to your smartphone or computer. Any location can be found by getting instructions using this gadget. This gadget is portable and simple to utilize with some basic information.

The supplied micro-USB cord is used to recharge the Neo Ghost rangefinder. It can run on GPS for up to 16 hours before having to recharge. When shut, the rubberized USB port shields are secure and safe from damage.

Thus, the Bushnell Ghost rangefinder can save up to 33,000 golf courses using the iGoFolg course catalog. But it will be wise to confirm that your track is supported before you purchase.

As compared to other rangefinders, this one is less accurate as well as it does not perform accurately in cloudy weather. Also, it is a bit more expensive than the other models.

What are the Uses of Rangefinders?

Rangefinders have become a common gadget that can be used in multiple fields. Below are some uses of a rangefinder:

1. Golfing

Golfing is among the most popular uses for rangefinders as they are effective to measure distance. They are utilized to calculate the range on a golf course or determine the targeted range. These days, golf-specific rangefinders are available for locating the mark on the course.

A hunting rangefinder is not recommended in this situation because it is made to determine the targeted range, which could not always be what you are looking for.

2. Hunting

Rangefinders are made to measure distances accurately. So, you can use them to locate the large animals you intend to hunt. Your rangefinder can directly assist you in determining whether or not you will strike your goal. Or else you use a Spotting Scope with a Rangefinder to target your prey at a long distance.

Furthermore, even shooting for the proper distance does not always ensure that you will strike your goal because of potential obstacles in the path.

3. Photography

Photographers have a golden chance to get the ideal shot using rangefinders. For precise focusing, a rangefinder camera measures the distance from the goal using range-finding technology. 

The viewport is placed apart from the optics which is the primary part of the camera. As a result, the picture you see will differ from the one that is captured. 

At close distances, it will be more visible. Additionally, most rangefinder cameras have a magnifying power of 0.8x. Some gadgets are as high as 1.1x and give users an ideal view.

4. Forestry

Another field where a rangefinder can be useful is forestry. This sector of the economy depends on proper analysis. And using a surveying rangefinder is the best approach to attain the correct measurement in the shortest amount of time.

Additionally, this tool can be utilized to record branch or sale boundaries, monitor gradient quality, assess log decking size, and evaluate tree elevation. Previously, all of these tasks have been problematic.


This article is all about how a rangefinder works along with different models of rangefinders. You can go through all and get to know how they all work having different methods and functionalities. In other words, all the rangefinders have different working methods according to their type.


When taking a reading on grounds, the majority of rangefinders are precise up to 500 yards. Even many laser rangefinders claim that they are precise twice at that distance. On some grounds, rangefinders work better than on others.

A hunter rangefinder operates in the far objective priority mode, which ignores the nearby objects due to the multiple targets. There are several hunting techniques to take into account in the rangefinders!

Yes, rangefinders are among the most accurate and effective ways to measure distance. They are good to detect objects using different methods because there are various types of rangefinders such as laser, optical, sonar, and lidar rangefinders.


About Author

Hi, I’m David. a professional hunter. I’m hunting since my childhood I used to go with my dad in the States of Montana. We used to hunt mule deer and white-tailed deer. I made this blog to share my experience and help beginners with this experience. More about me here.

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