Range guessing

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Rob Mac

Well-Known Member
Evening all

Most of my stalking is in woodlands, shots never really going further than 120 yrds and I have never needed a range finder. Yesteday I stalked with a friend in Wiltshire, over the rolling plains and realised just how bad I am at range estimation.

It was almost a disastrous stalk on a large group of roe because I thought I was much closer than I actually was. The first shot going low and nicking the back of a front leg. Luckily a friend I was stalking with, and who is much more experienced at longer range work (and an extremely good shot) was watching from the other side of the valley and was able to make a very good shot almost straight away to rectify my mistake.

I'd forgotten just how bad you feel when things to wrong and what a muppet you can make of yourself. It was a good learning experience though and I won't be making that mistake again in a hurry. I won't be rushing out to buy a range finder, because I don't usually need one, but I will be spending more time working out what roe look like through my scope at 100 - 150 - 200 & 250 yards.




Well-Known Member
A very good and honest point you make Boss. ;) I also find it difficult to range outside my normal little patch of Warwickshire. I have quite alot of hedges on and around my ground. I have paced the ground out using the hedges as reference points. If I go anywhere else to stalk I'm completely buggered! :(


Well-Known Member
must admit that quite often when i'm walking around, i estimate how far away objects are and then count my paces. i find it helps a lot, of coarse you then have to check how your paces actually measure up to yards or meters.

Andy L

Well-Known Member
I was given a laser range finder by a friend of mine. Although I don't take it with me on a stalk, it is fantastic for training yourself on distance. I keep it in my truck and when I am stuck in a traffic jam or waiting for someone then I will take a look around with it in different situations. It is not long before you can estimate pretty accurately.
Very honest post Rob and no harm done. Just your pride a little dented. It happens to us all as you know!


Well-Known Member
This is where the German No.1 , No.1A , No.4 and No.4A reticles come into their own.
With the No.1 and No.4 the gap between the cross bars is 70cm at 100 metres.
With the No.1A and No.4A the gap is 140cm at 100 metres.
With the reticle in the 1st focal plane distance can be estimated provided the size of the quarry species is known.

The Swarvoski Nova 3-12X56 on my Carl Gustaf .270 has a No.1A reticle fitted and was requested by me when I bought rifle and scope new.



Site Staff
A n inch high zero at 100 yards always gives me a suitable point blank range out to 200 yards. As I never take a shot beyond that, rarely that far in fact, range finding is one less item for me to take into the field ;)



Well-Known Member
My first ever shot at deer was on a fallow doe, there was a large group in a field . I was on a small bank prone with a bipod. I heard my first shot hit & could see the deer through my sight.
The round had hit low, just through the bottom of the rib cage.
It wasn't until I paced it out that it was about 220 paces, as I normally take 12 paces to 10 metres, the range was about 180yards.
I was pleased that I had my first deer, but I was also upset with myself for getting it wrong. I learnt that I seriously lacked the experience of judging distances.
If I had ranged it correctly I could have made a better job of placing my shot. Lesson learnt.
Now when I'm out walking the dogs I try to estimate the distance to various points & then pace it out.

Nick Gordon

Well-Known Member

A tip I read a few years ago was that if you have high seats which you use regularly, prepare charts showing the distance to certains features such as boulders etc.

The charts can then be put in a clear poly folder or something similar and attached to the high seats for future use. No worries about forgetting to take them with you each time.

Maybe others will disagree but my view is that if you are going to shoot an animal you have a responsiblity to do so so that the kill is quick and humane.

Part of the enjoyment of stalking is pitting my wits against the deer by trying to get as close as possible to make sure that, allowing for the type of shot, eg prone or whatever, if I squeeze the trigger the distance factor has been removed from the equation in trying to achieve the kill.

I'd rather a deer ran off unscathed because of my attempts to stalk in close than have it run off wounded because of a bad shot.

I know that with modern riflles a lot of people can and do shoot deer far out consistenly but I know the limitations of my marksmanship. Maybe that's why I don't shoot many :cry:



Well-Known Member
Nick, I have only shot 3 fallow,2 out in a field & 1 in the woods .The last was a proper woodland, stalk. The last part on our bellies through the undergrowth. I must say on a personal bias I found this far more rewarding.
My very first outing was an evening woodland stalk with a local keeper, I was amazed at how close we got to deer, 4 deer at the end of a point, 2 fallowfurther in the wood, that we didn't see until we were about 30 yards away, they saw us at the same time, barked & scampered off.The last was feeding just outside the wood as we rounded a corner about 20 metres away. Unfortunately no safe shot was available during the stalk, but what a superb experience.
I have often laid out in the meadows with my .22 zeroed to the far bank & shoot rabbits as the pop out in the evenings, Its good fun & easy shooting, but I still get more out of creeping up on then & getting as close as I can to them.

Nick Gordon

Well-Known Member
A number of years ago I was out one morning trying to stalk roe bucks.

As I was walking along the forest road running through my stalking ground, a doe withthe previous year's fawn appeared a couple of hundred yards in front of me and started feeding behind some gorse bushes.

After waiting about ten minutes to see if a buck appeared, I thought I'd stalk the doe and fawn to see how close I could get.

I got to the gorse bushes and looked over to see the fawn feeding away without a care in the world. It took off like a scalded cat when I leant over the bush and patted its back :!:

To be fair there was a strong wind in my favour and the bushes covered my approach.


Site Staff
Judging distances can be hard, particularly in the highlands, where dead ground between you and the deer can make the distance decieving. This is where a range finder can be very useful, or knowing your ground well.

One of the hardest I think is CWD out on open fields, as they are so small they always look further away than they actually are.

It is also good with highseats to put a marker post on either side about 100yds out, this will give a good indication of the distance when you come to take a shot. Distances can become even harder to estimate as the light falls, and again knowing your ground well does help.

I have a Bushnell rangefinder that an american gave me as a gift, and I have to admit it is a useful bit of kit to have on you, especially when taking clients out.

old keeper

Well-Known Member
Why guess? There are excellent rangefinders available for not a lot of cash that take the guesswork out of this most important aspect of shooting. It only takes a moment to check the range if you are on the move, and if you are sitting out (or up) you can pick out a few obvious points check the range and put the rangefinder away.
Surely with the accuracy of modern rifles and the availability of items of equipment to enable us to, as often as possible, ensure a clean humane kill. we owe it to the quarry species to due just this. Good shooting

Offroad Gary

Well-Known Member
the most use i have had out of my rangefider is ensuring that my zero/practice distance is always the same. especially useful if you cant always use the same zero ground because of livestock etc. i found it essential to eliminate errors in distance when i was having issues with my prohunter mountain.
i also use it when i put up a seat in a new location just as a check.
the leica model i have has LED display, so you can use it at night against long range lampshy charlies and still read the display with ease, although it doesnt help you hit the little buggers!
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