HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to our Airgun titles today CLICK HERE

A Measure of Truth

15:32 12 July 2012

Looking to the future? Only one way to find out.

Looking to the future? Only one way to find out.


Last month I discovered that my instinctive range estimation powers were not what I thought they were. This month, I set out to discover the true state of things in my rangefinding world, and to find out if I need a bit of technical help with my hunting. The results brought me good news and bad, plus a decision to make.

First, I had to assess my own rangefinding abilities, compared to that of a laser rangefinder. I’d borrowed a couple of rangefinders from the editor and Terry wanted his own one back, so I got on with the Tasco VLRF 600. I liked its one-button operation and four-times magnification, and the LCD display pinged back at me with simple clarity. It’s an ‘aim, press, read’ device and just what I needed, so as far as hardware was concerned, I was sorted. Next job – work out the tests.

Again, I went with ‘simple’, and all I did was to find a series of objects, such as trees, fence posts, clumps of grass and even piles of horse dung, and compare my own estimation with that of the Tasco rangefinder. I chose ‘familiar’ objects at first, found on my favourite, and most used, shoot within walking distance from my back garden gate. I have to say, the results were spectacularly unspectacular.

Out to my usual hunting distances I found I was rarely more than a yard or so off target, and I was on the verge of thinking I had nothing to worry about. Then I repeated the exercise on unfamiliar territory, and everything changed … very much for the worse. My previous one-yard average error became five yards, and often more. This was a disaster; not to mention a bit of a shock.

So why the huge disparity? Easy. On my favourite shoot, I not only knew the ranges by heart, I’d actually shot quarry at, or very near, the objects I was ranging. In short, I’d educated myself on every feature of that shoot, so it held no surprises. When that education was removed, I struggled. As neat a solution as that was, it didn’t explain how I could turn up at a new shoot and put a decent bag together, and I’d done that more times than I cared to remember.

Then, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place. The fact was, my yards and the rangefinder’s weren’t the same. Of course the rangefinder was spot-on every time, but when I estimated, say, 32 yards, I may have been a few yards out but I knew exactly where to aim for my estimation, and that’s what really counts. You see, hunting effectively and humanely doesn’t depend on getting your range estimation yard-perfect in terms of actual yards. It depends on you knowing exactly where to aim for any given range. See the difference? I hope so, because it’s a vital one.

Now what?

So, do I need a rangefinder or not? Actually, while I could probably get away without using one, my tests have shown me one aspect of using the laser that can’t be reproduced using judgement alone. I’m talking about those situations where your eyes are fooled into an error, usually one of over-estimating the range. Leafy tunnels, changes in shade and bright sunlight, and shooting under a lamp can absolutely wreck human range estimation, but not the unblinking eye of the laser rangefinder.

Having a rangefinder like this affordable Tasco unit will definitely improve my effectiveness in tricky situations, and even as a confidence booster it earns its place. Plus, I can use it to help me ‘map’ any new shooting grounds I find myself on.

Yes, from now on, that Tasco VLRF will be in the pocket of my hunting jacket, just in case I need a hand now and again. I don’t see this as some sort of defeat, either. I consider it sensible use of clever technology, and my hunting will be all the better for it.

More from News

Thursday, July 14, 2016
Introducing the NEW Airgun World App

We are thrilled to announce the release of our new Airgun World magazine App!

Available to download now from the Apple, Google Play and Amazon App Stores, it’s the perfect way to take Airgun World with you wherever you go.

Read more
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Introducing the NEW Air Gunner App

We are thrilled to announce the release of our new Air Gunner magazine App!

Available to download now from the Apple, Google Play and Amazon App Stores, it’s the perfect way to take Air Gunner with you wherever you go.

Read more
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
I like the green stock colour. It helps camouflage the gun

Can less technology be better? The editor finds out

Read more
Thursday, May 5, 2016
The glow you see is the ultraviolet light emitter that kills germs and bacteria

The editor reviews some new thinking in boot dryers

Read more
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Another little black torch but not like any other you've seen

Yet another powerful little black torch, but this one has brains

Read more
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Daystate Pular

What are the benefits of the bullpup? Find out if this remarkable rifle can change the editor’s opinion of bullpups as he puts it to the test on the shooting range

Read more
Monday, December 14, 2015
Ballistol gun oils to maintain your rifle

Airgun Shooting is offering a lucky reader the chance to win Ballistol gun oils worth up to £20

Read more
Friday, August 7, 2015
The LED produces a clean, white, even light that belied the tiny size of the torch

The technology race for the most powerful torches brings us all benefits, as the editor reports

Read more
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Outdoorwear for the warmer months needs to be simple, sturdy, versatile and effective

Thinking of buying a new summer hunting outfit? Ridgeline may have just the things…

Read more

Subscribe today

Air Gunner Application Link
Airgun World Application Link

Follow Our Titles

Airgun World
Air Gunner

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Latest expert advice