Bow hunting isn't easy.
From practicing for that perfect shot, to getting close enough to actually taking it, there's quite a bit more skill involved than the typical rifle hunting expedition.
One of the biggest problems with bowhunting is taking a shot within an effective range. And, range can be tough to determine by sight alone.
That's where rangefinders come in handy. With a quick scan of your target and the press of a button, a rangefinder allows you to accurately determine the distance between yourself and the target.
Keep reading for a closer look at the top rangefinders for bow hunting.
For an optic that’s highly effective for bow hunting that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, check out:
OUR BEST CHOICE
Nikon 16224 Arrow ID 3000
How to Pick The Perfect One For Your Needs
Picking the right rangefinder for bow hunting isn’t easy. There’s a lot to pick from. From price to features the market is flooded with options.
How They Work
Before comparing models, specs, or even prices, it’s important to understand how rangefinders work. They’re not quite as straightforward as a bow after all—there’s more to them than pulling a string and sending an arrow downrange.
Rangefinders emit a small, highly focused beam of light toward your chosen target. The time it takes the beam of light to reflect off the target and return to the rangefinder is then recorded. That time is then used to estimate the distance to the target.
Rangefinders typically come in one of two priorities. If you’re not familiar with these, this concept may sound a bit confusing, but it’s actually pretty simple.
First priority rangefinders are designed for open, unobstructed areas like golf courses. When nothing stands between you and the flag on the green, a first priority range can quickly provide you with an accurate range.
Second priority range finders are made for areas where views are typically obstructed. When hunting, you’ll often encounter trees, branches, or other obstacles between you and your target, in these situations a second priority one is perfect.
Hunters will virtually always want to go with a second priority rangefinder.
Know Your Purpose
While a first priority range finder designed for the golf course certainly could be used on your next hunting trip, it’s probably not your right option.
Picking the right range finder for the job is just as important as picking the right bow, arrow, or gun. Even though a less than ideal tool might work, choosing one that most closely aligns with your intentions is always wise.
Besides choosing a first or second priority rangefinder, picking one that suits your hunting method is a smart idea too. These ones come capable of a variety or ranges, but are often most effective from about the middle of their range down to the closest range.
For bow hunters, a rangefinder that works perfectly at short range is often better. Since you won’t be taking shots much longer than 30 or 40 yards, a finder that’s designed to measure out to 2,000 yards is probably a bit much.
Know Your Budget
Rangefinders come in at a broad range of prices. From $50 or $60 for an inexpensive unit, all the way up to several hundred dollars, it’s not hard to find one to match your budget. Although, the better rangefinders do tend to cost upwards of the $200 mark.
Picking the Right One
While many models can reach out to very long distances or incorporate interesting features like bullet ballistics data, much of this is unnecessary for the archery hunter.
A good archery rangefinder should have good software for angle compensation, since bow hunters often take shots at extreme angles like from a tree stand. They should also have a low magnification range and be extremely accurate at close range.
Top 10 Models for Bow Hunting
Nikon 16211 Arrow ID 7000 VR
For bowhunters, the Nikon Arrow ID 7000 is one of the top choices on the market. The 6x magnification gives it an ideal focal length and the vibration reduction lens makes it easy to see the target in all conditions.
One feature that really helps this Nikon stand out is its incline/ decline ranging ability, or ID as Nikon calls it.
This technology gives hunters the ability to capture both straight line and horizontal distance to a target, making it easy to get an accurate range at angles up to 89 degrees.
This is a big plus for anyone who uses a tree stand or hunts on hilly or difficult terrain.
The Nikon Arrow ID 7000 also allows hunters to switch between first and second priority modes. While second priority will probably be used most often, it’s nice to have the option of first priority for those open shots when there’s nothing between you and the target.
This unit measures distances between 8 and 1000 yards. Measurements are accurate within half of a yard at distances below 700 yards, making it distances highly accurate.
Above 700 yards, accuracy drops to within one yard, but since bowhunters will never need to make a shot at that distance, this lose of accuracy is definitely forgivable.
Bushnell 202442 The Truth ARC 4x20mm Bowhunting Laser
Another rangefinder that's great for bow hunting is the Bushnell The Truth ARC. This unit easily covers bow hunting distances with a range of 7 to 850 yards.
With the ability to compensate for inclines and declines at distances out to 199 yards, this model is a good fit for bow hunters.
The Truth does this by measuring the horizontal distance to a target along with the line of sight distance out to 99 yards.
Another interesting feature of This Bushnell is its clear shot feature.
By scanning the area between the shooter and target, this model will notify shooters if they have a clear shot.
The Truth's 4x optical zoom also provides plenty of viewing area for bow hunters. A rainproof design makes it durable and a 100% money back guarantee gives buyers confidence.
And, at under $200, this model is a great value.
Leupold RX-Fulldraw2 Olive
The Leupold RX-Fulldraw2 is capable of estimating ranges from 6 yards all the way out to 850 yards. 6x magnification provides adequate zoom and good field of vision for surveying wide, open spaces.
This RX-Fulldraw2 also calculates both line of sight distance as well as horizontal distances for bow hunters.
A choice of three different reticles aids shooters in finding and estimating targets.
As an interesting bonus, Leupold also includes a feature they refer to as Trophy Scale. Trophy Scale allows hunters to quickly measure the height and width of target.
This is a very useful feature for anyone hunting in an area with strict antler or other size requirements.
To cap it all off, this rangefinder is made of aluminum and coated with a tough, rubber coating.
A fully waterproof design that also keeps out fog, gives this unit a tough build that’s ready for the field.
- Calculates ranges from 5-1000 yards
- Accuracy of ½ yard
- Includes modes for both bow and rifle hunting
- Multiple reticles allow users to choose the right view for the conditions
- Waterproof construction
- Inclinometer built in for horizontal distance measurement
Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 6 x 21mm Laser
Bushnell’s Scout DX 1000 is another great choice for bow hunters looking for a solid rangefinder. This model has an effective range of 5 to 1000 yards.
6x magnification provides good visibility and field of view.
In addition to line of sight range finding, hunters also get horizontal distance to target.
This allows users to quickly compensate for arrow drop over different distances.
The Bushnell Scout DX 1000 also has a setting for rifle hunting that helps hunters make similar calculation with a rifle.
This is a great feature for hunters that spend time in the field with both a bow and a rifle.
A sturdy, waterproof build makes this a reliable performer in the field.
Nikon Monarch Gold Laser 1200
While it’s not a true bow hunting rangefinder, the Nikon Monarch Gold Laser 1200 is an excellent all around unit.
Since many bow hunters spend just as much, if not more, time in the woods with a gun as they do with a bow, picking a unit that works well for both scenarios is a smart choice for many users.
This Nikon measures distances out to 1200 yards with one-yard accuracy. The ability to move between priority one and two modes allows hunters to pick the perfect mode for their situation.
Continuous ranging also gives hunters the ability to accurately follow moving targets.
Leupold RX-1200i TBR/W with DNA Digital Laser
The Leupold RX-1200i is another rangefinder that gives hunters a maximum range of over 1000 yards—up to 1200 to be exact.
Not that bowhunters need that sort of range, but the flexibility can come in handy for those headed out during both rifle and bow season.
While the RX-1200i is not a true bow hunting rangefinder, it does have a hold over feature that allows users to calculate for bullet or arrow drop.
This feature doesn’t work quite the same way as a horizontal measurement, but very similarly.
Out to one hundred yards, this model is accurate within ½ yard. Beyond that, you’ll have to settle for one yard accuracy.
Bushnell 202208 Bone Collector Edition 4x Laser
If you’re looking for an inexpensive tool that will serve for both rifle or bow use, the Bushnell 202208 Bone Collector provides users with a sturdy, feature-packed option.
With a range of 10 to 600 yards, this one covers plenty of distance for most uses. Magnification is adequate too at 4x optical.
Accuracy is good too at around one yard per measurement.
A rugged, water proof design that’s also compact really rounds out this unit.
A case is also included with this Realtree camo design.
- Captures distances up to 550 yards
- ID technology allows for horizontal distance measurement
- Includes priority one and two modes
- Two-year warranty included from Nikon
- Low price tag makes this an appealing choice
Nikon 16224 Arrow ID 3000 Bowhunting Laser
For a bowhunting rangefinder, it’s hard to go wrong with the Nikon Arrow ID 3000. This unit can measure distances from 6 to 550 yards in one yard increments with Nikon’s signature optical quality, for a price that’s manageable for most hunters.
Much like other Nikon bowhunting products the ID 3000 comes equipped with an incline/ decline ranging ability, or ID.
This technology gives hunters the ability to capture both straight line and horizontal distance to a target, making it easy to get an accurate range at varying angles to the target. This is a big plus for anyone who uses a tree stand or hunts on hilly or difficult terrain.
The ID 3000 also gives hunters the ability to transition between priority one and priority two modes. Either method can quickly capture distance with the push of a single button.
This unit is well built and fairly compact, with a relatively long eye relief of 20.3 mm. It’s also water resistant and rainproof.
Bushnell G-Force DX ARC 6x 21mm Laser
The Bushnell G-Force DX ARC is an excellent model for anyone looking for a great multipurpose unit. For bowhunters, the G-Force offers all the essentials, plus some great features for rifle shooters.
For bowhunters, the G-Force provides a bow hunting setting that calculates horizontal distance to target along with line of sight distance from 5 to 99 yards. For rifle hunters, this model offers a similar setting that uses a ballistic calculator to help shooters compensate for bullet drop over long distances.
Overall, one of the nicer things about the G-Force is its rock-solid build. The metal construction of this model is coated with a thick, heavy-duty rubber that keeps it safe in even the most extreme conditions. The G-Force is also completely waterproof, rather than water resistant or rain proof like many rangefinders.
- Inexpensive—less than $100
- Ranges from 10 to 600 yards
- 4x optical magnification
- One yard accuracy
Bushnell Simmons 801600 Volt 600 Laser
These are incredibly powerful tools, especially for bowhunters. Quickly calculating the distance to a target often means the difference between making the shot and going home empty handed.
But, the problem for many hunters is that these are not cheap. Many cost nearly as much as a new bow.
The Simmons Volt 600 changes all that. For under $100, the Volt gives hunters basic range finding capabilities. While it doesn't have a dedicated bow hunting setting or the ability to measure horizontal distance, this unit can capture distances out to 600 yards within one yard of accuracy.
4x optical magnification provides enough magnification while also providing a good field of view while scanning the terrain. Compact, polymer construction makes this model durable and easily transportable.
Final Verdict: The Best Rangefinder For Your Money
Nikon 16224 Arrow ID 3000
Picking just one is never easy.
But, if you have to pick just one perfect optic for bow hunting, the Nikon Arrow ID 3000 is one of the top choices on the market.
The Arrow ID 3000 may not be the most feature-rich model on the market, but it does everything a bow hunter needs for a price that’s attainable for most hunters.
The ID 3000 calculates horizontal distance and can quickly shift between first and second priority modes. It’s compact size and long eye relief make this easy to and transport.
If you’re looking for great unit for bow hunting that won’t break the bank, check out the Nikon Arrow ID 3000.