Distance estimation errors

Many people would usually consider themselves experts when it comes to estimating distances. Occupations like being a wildlife biologist or even a soldier can make you become an expert because they usually involve a lot of distance estimations.

We all know that it is very important to obtain the correct results because accuracy is a very key thing when estimating. The level of accuracy you get will always determine whether you will end up being successful or fail in whatever you are doing.

With people getting tired of making errors, we have seen the emergence of rangefinders. These gadgets help in estimating distances or range and giving back accurate results thus reducing the chances of making estimation errors and improving success rates.

But do you know that even rangefinders can sometimes be wrong? Rangefinders always give results at least to one decimal place. However, there is still some small amount of error that is inherent in the readings displayed.

This is due to a number of factors that usually can have some effects on the functionality of the rangefinder. Some rangefinders however have options that can help in minimizing these errors. Let us look at some factors that might lead to distance estimation errors in range finders.

  • Ambient light

When using a laser rangefinder, a strong artificial light or a bright sunlight will reduce the maximum effective range.

This is because too much light will probably confuse the rangefinder’s light sensor. Well, in as much as you can’t control the weather, it would be a great idea to use the rangefinder from a shadow or when the sun has been blocked by the clouds.

It is said that a person can achieve the longest ranging at dusk or in overcast.

  • Density

Rangefinders have been in the market now for quite some time and one important observation that has been made while using them is that density can also have some effect on the results.

The thicker your target is, the better results you will get. For instance, if you are using a laser rangefinder, you will need to have a target that is thick enough to block the laser beam thus improving on the visuals.

  • Target size

The size of your target is also something that should be considered. Small sized targets are can be difficult to aim at.

This sometimes leads to overestimation or underestimation of the range. When aiming at a small target, person might end up hitting something that is either in front or behind it without even knowing.

This will automatically be counted as a wrong result. Also, try aiming at fixed targets. Moving targets are always difficult to aim and most of the time you will get disappointed if you are not that good.

  • Vibration

This is also another factor that can affect the range estimation. Vibration can be caused by the weather or from your hands.

When using a rangefinder, all the factors that might cause disturbance or vibration should be eliminated. This way, you can be sure of getting a more precise result. Always make sure both your body and hands are stable when using a rangefinder.

If you are a golfer, you can buy a stand to hold your rangefinder as this will help in keeping it steady and stable.

  • Quality of the rangefinder

When shopping for a rangefinder, the quality is among the things that you should check on first before buying it.

Many of us would often complain about the price especially when you are on a budget. Different rangefinders have different prices and maybe this is brought about by the difference in their functionalities.

In short, I think it would be true to say the price of these gadgets is directly proportional to the quality. Expensive rangefinders have good quality components thus using them will guarantee you better results.

Buying less expensive rangefinders will limit your abilities as they can only estimate short ranges and are likely to give you less accurate readings.

  • Distance to the target

The distance from the person using the gadget to the object or the target should also be considered. Usually the estimation error increases with an increase in the distance between the rangefinder to the target.


Well, with these few points, we have seen how technology can sometimes fail us. There might be other factors that can cause rangefinders to give a faulty or inaccurate results but these are just the most common ones.

Anyway, as we had already said, you can obtain maximum accuracy by improving on the stability of the rangefinder.

This can be done by using a range pole, tripod or a monopole. This can really be of help mostly when estimating long ranges. For the golfers, rangefinders is a very important tool as it saves them the energy and time they could have used in walking around trying to estimate the range.

Divergence of the beam is also among the things that could result to estimation errors. There are also some rangefinders that have options that can enable them to reduce the chances of getting an error.

For instance, some have the poor weather setting which allows them to minimize the effects that can be caused by weather conditions like rain, smoke, snow or even the dust particles in the air.

With all that being said, for hunters, the best way however to lower your chances of getting errors is to shop for the best long range hunting rangefinder you have.

One that appropriately suits your needs and keeping in mind all the factors we have discussed above.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.