Laser Rangefinders (LRF) are easy to use and takes off the ranging guessing game in hunting. However, it take a combination of techniques to optimize its efficiency so that it’ll give you the most accurate readings as much as possible. Remember, the more accurate numbers you get, the more you can avoid mishap shot. That’s why it’s widely used as the best rangefinder for shooting. So here are 5 tips to maximize rangefinder efficiency in any light or weather condition.
Understand How a Laser Rangefinder Works
Before we go deep dive in how to improve accuracy in your laser rangefinder, let’s have a brief recap on how the tool works. In a simple question – how does a laser rangefinder measure the distance of a certain object?
Once you turn on the laser rangefinder to get a reading, it projects a beam out to the target you have at a distance. The invisible hits the surface of the target and is reflected back to the LRF. The sensor and chip inside it measures the travel time back and forth and from there it determines the distance between you and the target.
How to Optimize Laser Rangefinder Performance
On ideal scenarios, the terrain would be a flat area with good light conditions and no obstructions. However, its very rare to be in such a scenario, weather can change anything during the hunt, and there will always be objects surrounding the target. These obstructions are factors that affect the laser rangefinders performance:
- Weather conditions
- Lighting conditions
- Reflections on target
- Type of target
- Lens and Display
Set your Display Preferences
Most of the laser rangefinders in the market today are divided into 2 types: red or black display. Simply put, this is the color of the reticle you’ll see in the display.
- Black Display Reticle
Choosing a black reticle display has its advantages. First, it’s very easy on the eyes even at daytime when the sun is at its brightest glory. Second, black display units tend be more affordable than their red display counterparts.
What’s the disadvantage? Black reticles aren’t easy to discern when you hover it on shaded areas or when lighting conditions are not at par.
- Red Display Reticle
With that disadvantage on black reticles, the red reticle is easier to see even when you are scanning shaded areas. Imagine at low light conditions when everything far ahead seems to be in grayscale. Scanning with red reticle is definitely much easier than having a black reticle.
The disadvantage of having better contrast on color and display is of course, prices tend to be higher. Red reticle units are more expensive than black reticle ones because of its LED display system.
Whichever type of display you have in your laser rangefinder, take time to adjust your display brightness. This is one option you can set which can help significantly in improving the contrast on different lighting conditions.
Get to Know the Optics Inside Your Laser Rangefinder
There’s no need to go through the whole optics course here, but a little information on the optics you have in your unit can help you maximize its performance. First, let’s go through some common terms:
The lens in your laser rangefinder is coated with certain compounds to optimize its performance. The better the quality of the coating, the better the image you’ll get. Single-coated lens means there’s one layer of coating on it and there are also models with multi-coated layers. There are also laser rangefinders with lens that are fully multi-coated which mean it’s multi-coated for all standard criterias. If you need specific types of lens coating, there are manufacturers that can customize the lens for you.
Most compact laser rangefinders have objective lens with diameter around 18 to 26mm. If you want brighter and better contrast in your image, choose units with larger lens diameter. The principle is the same on how our eyes work in low light conditions. Our eye’s pupil expands in the dark to be able to gather more light and help us see better
Schedule Your Hunt
Lighting conditions play a huge role on optimizing your laser rangefinders performance. The better the lighting, the clearer the image and contrast you’ll see, thus the more accurate the readings you’ll get. However it’s not always ideal to hunt when the sun is too bright, because of reflections.
Same goes when it’s cloudy and gloomy, having minimal light will reduce the scope’s ability to provide clearer contrast for objects that are far away. When is the best time then? Many hunters advise that ambient light conditions are best during dusk.
Of course, if we take account the type of targets you are tracking, it will all depend on their activity patterns throughout the day. In this case, try to adjust your scopes display settings in case you don’t ideally get into perfect lighting conditions.
Know Your Target
Understanding that a laser rangefinder works by measuring the time it takes the laser beam to travel back and forth from your unit to the target, then it’s logical to say that it will work best on reflective targets. Unfortunately your target elk isn’t really that cooperative to wear some reflective clothing for you, so the best advice is to try and focus the reticle on a flat surface near your target such as a wet rock beside it. In a nutshell, smooth, shiny and dense objects helps provide better readings than dark and opaque objects.
Shape of Target
On ideal situations, flat surfaces are the best ones to range. However that elusive elk isn’t flat bodied at all. When ranging, try to focus on broad sides and avoid slopes that might reflect the beam at a certain angle.
Be familiar of the environment
If you’ve been tracking a whitetails activity for the past days then you’ll probably be familiar with the environment already. Try your best not to focus the laser beam on white reflective surfaces such as snow or else it will affect your readings’ accuracy. Snow can be super reflective and diffuse the beam, which will be difficult for your to get accurate ranges.
Modern laser rangefinders make ranging and hunting as easy as point-range-aim and shoot however you still need to be familiar on how to use it to get efficient and accurate readings. With these tips, practice first and adjust your LRF settings based on different lighting conditions and scenarios. This way, you’ll be familiar on what you need to do in order to get the best reading as fast as possible when you are at the field.