Do You Really Need A Rangefinder For Bow Hunting ?


If you are new to bow hunting you are probably having a hard time deciding what equipment you should purchase and what isn’t really necessary. One of these items is a laser rangefinder and the answer is yes, you probably will benefit from using one.

Yardage is everything when you are bow hunting, you have to be pretty accurate judging distances and knowing how far away your target is if you want to be successful. You can get away with a few yards of error when hunting with a rifle or shot gun, your miss won’t be that much; an inch or two high or an inch or two low. With bow hunting if your range is of by three or four yards it can make the difference between a good hit, a bad hit or even a miss.

You must have a bow hunting specific rangefinder like any of the ones found on this site. Using a rifle only rangefinder won’t work as well for us bow hunters, you need one that compensates for various incline or decline shooting angles. Some rangefinders don’t have this feature and only give you straight line range which isn’t accurate when ranging an incline or decline. I use the Nikon Rifle Hunter 1000 which is a great rangefinder especially for bow hunting because it is very accurate even up to +/- 89 degrees of inline/decline.

ranging from tree stand

I usually hunt from a tree stand which is what most bow hunters do. I like to set up my tree stand a few weeks before the season starts and I bring my Nikon Riflehunter 1000 with me. Then I map out the target areas from the tree stand and record them. For example I will choose a tree at 15 yards, another at 20 yards, maybe a rock at 30 yards, etc; wherever I think a deer may be. I then tag them with an orange piece of tape. Then I know the ranges and don’t even need to use the rangefinder most of the time because the ranging has all been done ahead of time. This makes it very fast to determine the distance to a deer without any guessing when one comes into the target area. A lot of bad shots in bow hunting come from being on the tree standing and loosing your depth perception with can cause errors of several yards, this can make the difference between a great lung shot versus a gut shot or a miss. That’s why I recommend using a good quality rangefinder and put the time in to pre-range your hunting area so you don’t miss any opportunities.

There a lots of rangefinders that will work, just make sure you get one from a reputable manufacturer like Nikon, Bushnell,Leupold, Leica,etc. Any of these brands are proven, reliable and make a great tool for hunting. You can also use them for setting up targets on your property at various distances to practice shooting and keep your skills up before hunting season arrives. Judging distance in bow hunting is a really important skill and a laser rangefinder should be one of the essential pieces of equipment in your arsenal.