How to estimate range while hunting?

How to estimate range while hunting?

Having a sense of range is essential in hunting. However, the idea might seem a little vague to some of you. Here, we’ll tell you more about it!

Having a sense of range is important in hunting. Here, we mean estimating the distance of the animal. However, for different kinds of hunting activities, this sense varies: you can't use the same references if you are stalking, hunting in a stationary position or small-game hunting, for example. You won’t be hindered by the same things, in short, few things are similar.

Today, thanks to the experience of our teams, we want to share our advice and knowledge on this sense which is not much talked about. Many hunters will tell you that it’s a question of experience, which is true, but it can also be improved thanks to some advice which will allow you to have a keen eye ;)

(1). Estimating range during bow hunting

Let’s start with an activity where range is essential: bow hunting.
Here, every metre counts for the accuracy of the arrow. However, range is difficult to measure as the eye can often be tricked: we tend to estimate fewer metres than there are in reality. In other words, the target often appears closer than it actually is. Experience certainly plays a role, but in bow hunting, practice is always necessary.

How to estimate range while hunting?

There are several exercises available to you:  

- The 10-metre tape measure: you can use a 10-metre tape measure in order to find out how far 10 metres is. Then it is easier to gauge distances proportionally.
- If you are positioned in a tree stand or in a stationary position you must establish references. Can you see a stump, a lone tree or a trench? That’s ideal! You should be able to estimate the range between you and these references or even measure it with our new rangefinder, for example. From there, when your target passes close to one of these points, the estimation will already have been made.
- You should also know how to count your steps. This technique involves measuring the range by the number of steps you take and knowing how to translate this into metres. All you will have to do to find out the range is count the number of steps you have taken.

For bow hunting, as for other disciplines, it is important to have the correct shooting angle. If you lie on the ground, your shooting angle will be better. Furthermore, you should learn to shoot standing up or crouching. This activity requires you to be very quiet and therefore to be crouched down in the vegetation most of the time. What’s more, a sense of range varies depending on your position.
On the ground, the vegetation in front of you can give the impression of being either further from or closer to the animal. On the other hand; the absence of vegetation can also make you lose your sense of distance as there are no references to use.
With experience, says Valentin, who has been hunting for eight years, “we can find other references”. For example on your bow, or even when standing and extending your arm in a particular way, you can point your finger and know that you are 10m away, depending on the angle of your arm.

How to estimate range while hunting?

The rangefinder

The use of a rangefinder allows you to be much more accurate but, because of time constraints, it is often difficult to get it out. However, when the animal is still far enough away that you can move without being noticed, it can be an essential tool. It allows you to have a starting point and to count your steps while you approach the animal, for example. Find out more about our new rangefinder at the end of this article!

(2). Hide hunting or driven shooting

Now you have a sense of establishing references. For hide shooting and driven shooting, the principal is the same. The idea is to save time during the hunt. To this end, you can also use a rangefinder. The goal is also to estimate the distance yourself and use this tool to check and confirm this estimation.
With these activities, it is also a safety issue: for example, if there is a road or a path close by, it’s essential to estimate the distance so that you don’t shoot in that direction. This safety issue is also linked to the variety of legislation concerning driven hunting, which often sets limit on range.

How to estimate range while hunting?

What should you use as a reference?

Everything around you can be used for estimation.
On a wild boar hunt, you can use sprinkler systems. You can use the distance between the wheels as a reference to easily estimate the range of your target.
You can also use fences: when you reach the hunting location, measure the spacing between the poles.
Finally, on a driven shoot, you can use the animal tracks as a reference. So, as you’ve seen, there is an unlimited number of possibilities. It's up to you to create a reference that seems simple to you and that is quick to estimate.

What are the difficulties?

For this type of hunting, your sense of range can be disrupted at twilight. The lack of light gives the impression that the animals are far away although they are very close.

(3). Waterfowl shooting

For waterfowl shooting, it’s a different story altogether. First of all, we’ll explain the two types of hunting to better explain them to you:

How to estimate range while hunting?

Pass shooting (or from a stationary position)

For this type of hunting carried out from a hut or a hide, you have to wait for the game to pass over your head or nearby. In France, the average range is 20-30m for copper cartridges and 15-25m for steel cartridges. And yes, range is also calculated depending on your gun and your ammunition.

For hunting from a hut, you should still use references: the important thing is to know your environment, a bit like a scout: the average height of pine trees, for example. You must also be able to anticipate, as part of hunting is done by ear, before the duck enters your line of view.

Because of this, weather conditions - wind and rain in particular - can make it difficult. These two conditions confuse the ear and make anticipating the shot more difficult.

Waterfowl hunt observation

Hunting from hides / blinds / huts

This type of French shooting is specific to waterfowl and is carried out at night. Contrary to pass shooting, here we wait for the game to land. The range varies between 10m and 30m. During this type of activity, poles can serve as references. For example, you would place a pole every 10 metres, meaning you would no longer have to guess the distance if the game lands on the ground.

The difficulty here would be to do with the weather but it can also depend on the moon. It can be very bright depending on the night. The wind and rain do not help this sense either, as the splashing water can interfere with our view.

(4). Game bird shooting

Game bird shooting can be carried out with or without decoys. In any case, the hunter looks for the optimal shooting range in order to maximise their success.
It is a very dynamic, fast-moving type of hunting with lots of shooting. The hunter is camouflaged behind their hide, they must react quickly, which is why the ability to calculate the range is essential.

This sense is not always easy to develop, particularly with crows, which are very distrustful animals. The ideal shooting range for increasing your chance of success is around 15m.

The range can also depend on the weather: if it’s cold, the bullet will be colder and so the estimated range should be different.
Finally, dogs are often present at this type of hunt. So no, a dog will not help you to judge the range, but it will, however, allow you a longer range as it will go and fetch the game.

Carlos, the product manager, tells me: “every shooter should judge the range in order to aim for the maximum level of success while guaranteeing safe conditions for each shot”

How to estimate range while hunting?
How to estimate range while hunting?

(5). Woodcock shooting

Ah the woodcock, a mythical, lively bird that turns the heads of woodcock shooters.
The range is difficult to judge in this type of hunting, and even more so when it is carried out in a very cluttered environment: branches and brambles are the "woodcock’s" best friends.
This type of hunting is carried out with a pointing dog. When the bird takes flight, and so at the moment of the shot (if there is one), it is difficult to estimate the range as, as I said before, it’s a very fast bird.
The ideal range is around 15 metres.

As you know, there is no miracle answer for this type of hunting, but experience will definitely play a role.

How to estimate range while hunting?
How to estimate range while hunting?

(6). The solognac rangefinder

This article is nearing its end, but we couldn’t finish without telling you about our new Solognac rangefinder. This rangefinder allows you to measure long distances: up to 800m! An essential tool for a large number of activities, it will also allow you to practice and grasp a sense of range so that you will be ready during the whole hunt. The magnification of this rangefinder (x6) will allow you to better aim at your target. A good magnification is necessary for this tool, and we were able to respond to this need.

Florent, our product manager, tells you all about this rangefinder!

So, it’s already the end of this article. We hope that this advice will be helpful and that your sense of range will be less approximate. It’s Michael, our product manager, who will conclude here by telling us that the important thing for getting to grips with range is to: 
 “know your gun, ammunition and environment well!”