An archery/bow hunting range finder is all some people need
Obviously, no one is taking 200-yard shots with even the most powerful crossbow, so long range capability isn’t a concern while bow hunting. Now it may be a big concern to the bowhunter who also uses a rifle (or even just plays golf, but that’s another topic). But just focusing on the act of bowhunting, the typical 100-yard range limit of most dedicated bow hunting range finders would be fine.
Also, in many states, hunters are restricted to using shotgun slugs for deer and other game. Ohio is one such example. Even with modern rifle-barrel shotguns and sabot slugs, it’s exceedingly rare to take a shot over 100 yards. If your hunting territory is filled with dense cover and not many fields or other open areas, then you may not have many shots over 100 yards even if you can use a rifle.
This is a different question from if you need ANY range finder
Note: I didn’t ask ‘do you need a range finder for bow hunting’. The answer to that is a resounding YES! Being 5 or even 10 yards off on a 150 yard shot with a flat-shooting .270 Winchester probably isn’t all that big of a deal. You’ll probably still hit a vital area. But make even a 5-yard error with a bow and that once in a season – or a lifetime – shot could be gone forever. Or even worse, a majestic animal gets wounded and wastes away, dying in pain hours later. As hunters, we owe it to the animal and ourselves to do everything possible to ensure a quick, ethical kill.
After all, a 10-yard mistake on a 200-yard rifle shot is only a 5% error. For a 30-yard bowhunting shot, that’s a 33% mistake. And distances don’t always look the same in early morning fog or in dense cover or from the height of a tree stand. Either practice with your bow – a LOT – under realistic conditions (in a tree stand, early morning and midday, various angles, etc) to become better at range estimation or get a quality range finder. Better yet, do both.
Why a rifle range finder may be best for archery & bow hunting
But a range finder can be used for much more than just lining up that shot, as critical as that may be. You may want to range various landmarks around you or get a distance on an out-of-range animal that’s headed your way. Maybe you want to map out or scout things along a trail or how far your other stand. Maybe you’re just curious.
Fortunately, many rifle models will meet the needs of archers and bowhunters as well as even the best-dedicated archery/bowhunting models. Here are two things to look for in a rifle model to make sure it will meet your needs as an archer or bowhunter:
- Angle mode – this will ‘do the math’ for steeply angled shots, like in a tree stand
- Reasonable magnification – anything more than 6x would be too much at short distances
Make the right choice for your needs
If you are strictly a bow hunter or shotgun slug hunter that won’t ever pull the trigger on an animal over 100 yards, then, by all means, consider one of the fine models of bow hunting ranger finders listed here.
If you see yourself possibly needing a longer range model for rifle hunting, scouting, curiosity, or any other reason, look at the list of rifle and general hunting range finders shown here.
And yes, you may just want to have something that works for the golf course as well!