How does a Rangefinder Work? Complete Guide for Beginners

We often use devices we know nothing about. A rangefinder is a handy tool that can provide you with the exact distance to your target. Measurements like these come in handy for a wide job of applications, both personally and professionally.

A rangefinder sends out a laser beam that travels to the target object, is reflected from it, and comes back to the rangefinder. The device processes the beam’s time and provides you with distance to the target object.

The rangefinder device is equipped with a super-time measurement clock technology that measures the exact time it took for the laser to travel to the target and come back, and that provides you with accurate measurements.

Rangefinders have been diversified because of their wide application. You can use them for hunting, golfing, bow-hunting, surveys, and construction work. The ones that are used in construction have less range, while in other professional applications, their range can vary up to 1500 yards.

What Makes a Rangefinder Work?

The working of rangefinder depends both on hardware and software. The hardware provides you with tools to get information and the software processes that information to provide you with measurements.


The hardware is a hand-held device that is usually one-handed. The device comprises a multi-coated lens for the optics, a laser, and an internal chips and processor. The device mainly has 2 or 3 buttons that may perform more than one function.

Optics and laser systems are of the most importance. Optics provide you a clear view of the target and a magnification power while the laser system is responsible for measuring the distance to that target.

The LCD screen is either embedded in the monocular lens or may exist on the outside as well. The monocular lens display allows you to see the measurements appear on the target while the external display provides digital measurements and details on a small screen.

Rangefinders mostly come in water-resistant models. The outside is designed to make the device be comfortably held in one hand. However, designs may vary based on the type of rangefinder.

What Makes a Rangefinder Work


The software processes the data that is captured and provided by the hardware and processes it to provide you with the measurement. The software also adds additional features into the rangefinder that widens its functionality.

Rangefinders usually provide you with measurements in yards. Some rangefinders also provide you the option to switch to meters. Besides distance measurement, the rangefinders can also provide you with slope, speed of the object, and angle-compensated distance.

The software can vary a lot in rangefinders based on the application for which the rangefinder is designed. Many types of rangefinders come with different functionality and software features.

Hunting Rangefinders

The rangefinders that are designed for hunting have the feature of angle-compensated measurement and provide distance accurate to 0.5 yards. These rangefinders come in camouflage designs and have rugged and weather-resistant construction. So choose a budget-friendly rangefinder for yourself in the start.

Golf Rangefinders

The rangefinders that are designed for golf have a larger distance measurement and include the feature of slope that provides you with an angle to your target. The professional ones have an external switch for slope so that it can be turned off to make the device tournament legal.

Moreover, golf rangefinders also have a pin-seeking feature and flag-lock function that gives you the exact distance to the golf-pole, instead of the tree behind the pole. We have covered some of the best rangefinders for beginners, have a look.

Other Professional Rangefinders

There are also many other types of rangefinders most of which are used in construction and field survey works. Rangefinders also have military applications as they provide with correct distance to the target.

There are also hybrid rangefinders that can perform in a variety of applications. These rangefinders are embedded with a lot of features and are useful in all circumstances.

How to Use a Rangefinder?

Using a basic rangefinder is very easy and simple. First of all, to start a rangefinder you must put in the battery and press or hold the power button. Once the rangefinder turns on, you can use it in various ways.

Most rangefinders use the power button for measurement as well. You can press the power button once to calculate the measurement to target in sight. The measurement is either displayed on the eye display or external LCD screen.

The dual function of the power button allows the device to be easily used by one hand. Their other button is usually used to change modes. A rangefinder can come with multiple modes allowing you to take different sorts of measurements.

You can use the device to measure horizontal distance, vertical distance, actual distance, slope compensated distance, and also the speed of the object. These measurements are taken in different modes integrated into the software of the rangefinder.

The rangefinders that are specifically designed for golf have additional buttons and features that make the device more effective to be used in the game. The slope function in golf rangefinders allows you to find the angle-compensated distance to the flag-pin and the ballistic trajectory that helps you in selecting the right club and taking an accurately calculated shot.

How to Use a Rangefinder

The slope function, however, isn’t legal to use in professional tournaments. Hence, the Pro-Golf rangefinders come with an external button to turn the slope on and off, that allows you to make the device tournament legal when needed.

Moreover, the golf rangefinders also have a pin-seeking function that includes flagpole locking and vibration. The advanced rangefinders also have a visual green-circle lock function. This allows you to measure the distance to the flagpole accurately.

The rangefinders that are used for construction differ in their usage and functions. These rangefinders have unique functions and less distance measurement capacity as per their requirement.

So, using the rangefinder is very easy and simple. A user manual is also included in the package when you purchase a rangefinder. It contains all the necessary details and methods to use different functions of that rangefinder.

What Factors Enhance Working of a Rangefinder?

A lot of factors come into play when choosing a rangefinder. The one that matters most is in which application you need it. People use it for hunting, golfing, surveys, construction, and several other professional applications. Some of the most important factors are shared below:


The range of a rangefinder matters a lot. The range however depends on your usage of the device. For example, if you need a rangefinder for golfing or hunting, you need to buy one with more range. These rangefinders offer range up to 1500 yards. The rangefinders used in construction have less range but higher accuracy and precision.

Angle-Range Compensation Technology

This feature in rangefinders allows it to provide you with a calibrated distance. This distance is angle compensated and includes the slope of incline or decline to the target. Hence, if you are hunting on steep ground, this feature will help you a lot.

Slope Function (For Golfers)

The slope function with an external button to enable and disable it is very beneficial for golf players. It allows them to measure slope to target pin in personal games and while practicing and turn it off during professional games to make it tournament legal.

What Factors Enhance Working of a Rangefinder

Target Locking Technology

The target locking technology allows your device to lock on the target and confirm it with vibration to let you know. Advanced technology also provides visual confirmation of the target lock with a green circle or aim. This lets you measure accurate distance with high precision to the target.

Size and Portability

You don’t want to carry around a bulky rangefinder. You need a device that is easy to carry around and comfortable to hold in hand. Small size and lightweight design provide effective portability. This portability is enhanced by the design and construction of rangefinders.

Battery Time

Battery time is crucial when it comes to the effective working of a rangefinder. You don’t need a device that needs a recharge or change of battery again and again. Consider buying one that offers a long-lasting battery time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How to make a rangefinder work in 2022?

A. Rangefinders are easy to use and provide accurate measurements. The main component of their hardware is laser beam and super-time-measurement-clock that are responsible for measuring the distance. The software is also effective as it provides you with a display of measurement and a variety of features.

Q. How does a golf rangefinder work?

A. A golf rangefinder is also very easy and simple to use. The various features of this device allow it to work more efficiently than a normal rangefinder. Three buttons are used to control this rangefinder, one that controls power and measurement, one to change modes, and an optional button for slope control.

Q. How does a hunting rangefinder works?

A. Hunting rangefinders have rugged and weather-resistant construction that allows them to work in rainy weather. These devices have increased range and advanced features that allow them to measure distance more effectively. The device works on upgraded technology and offers more features than a normal rangefinder.

Summing It Up:

A rangefinder is a device that is used to take accurate distance measurements. These devices are very easy to use, are held in one hand and controlled by it, and only have two buttons. Rangefinder captures high-precision measurements and provides them in digital for accuracy. You can also get help from user-manual provided with the rangefinder to use it perfectly.

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