View Full Version : Distance estimation -- how to

February 9, 2000, 12:00 AM
How do I estimate distance on varmints (coyotes, etc.)? Is there a technique, or is it simply guessing and practice?


February 9, 2000, 01:08 AM
if you're using a flat shooting rifle, doesn't much matter within 200 yards.
otherwise... practice.
last one I shot, I estimated distance at 30 yards. close enough.
#4 buckshot from my front door.
(it's no longer about sport- I'm 'bout overrun with the dang things.)

Dave R
February 9, 2000, 10:30 AM
There is a novel called "Point of Impact", I believe, in which the author gives some purported old hunting guides. Kind of like "if you can clearly distinguish the eyes, the distance is less than 50 yards, etc." I will try to find the book at home and post more accurate details.

Disclaimer: I have no idea if the author was writing fiction in this case, or whether there is some basis in fact. But it all sounded pretty reasonable at the time I read it.

If you have $$ to spend, Cabela's has low-tech optical rangefinders starting about $100, and hi-tech laser rangefinders for much more. If you have one of those, and time to use it, you won't have to estimate.

Art Eatman
February 9, 2000, 11:02 AM
I guesstimate football fields. I pick a point about 100 yards out; then another 100 yards, and so on. This works out to around 400 yards.

My '06, zeroed at 200, is about 6" low at 300 and call it 24" low at 400. Now, almost four feet low at 500 yards means that after 400, you get in trouble with a 50-yard error. That's an easy error to make at that sort of distance. After 300 to 400 yards, you're praying, not at all sure...

Coyote hunting with a Swift or one of the middle-magnums gives you an effective point blank range of around 300-350 yards, if you zero at about 250.


"Point it and pull; Hell ain't half-full."

February 9, 2000, 05:26 PM
Rangefinders (optical non-laser ones) can be difficult to use and are really only necessary beyond 300 yards.

so HERE is an idea that works:

BUY a full sized deer target or decoy (put in with your buddies if you have to) Pace off 100, 200 and 300 yards and LOOK at it in your scope/vs the naked eye.. you can also use a larger object.. like your car for scale. we are USED to judging how far away a car is.. not people and deer.

Secondly TASCO scopes have a built-in gritty rangefinder.

at 9 power your scope's thick cross hairs should Bracket your deer's body (its like 16 inches or two feet or something across the fine parts of the cross hairs. At 200 yards the animal's body will only fit HALF this measurement .. ie its body should fit between the fat post hair and the cross hair.. at 300 yards its one quarter.. etc. so depending on how the deer looks in the crosshairs you'll have some idea of how far away it is.

(this is thoroughly explained in the literature that comes with a tascc scope)

But the reality is MOST guys OVERESTIMATE range. remeber that a 30-06 150 grain bullet sited in 2 inches high at 100 yards should be dead on at 200, and have a drop of around 7-8 inches at 300. If you think its LONG.. you STILL hold the cross hairs ON THE BODY, NOT OVER It. If you are within 300.. and hold a foot over its back you won't be able to tell if you have shot over or under your animal.

pick your target.. (and at long range you can usually get set) hold steady ON the body and squeeze. a solid body hit you can sometimes hear as the bullet exits (a dull "pop" smack, or thumping sound)

If you plan to shoot OVER 300 yards I'd recommenda bipod, rangefinder etc. For 300 and under.. a GI leather sling is all the extra gear you will need.

Hope the info helps.


February 9, 2000, 06:27 PM

One of the best, quickest, and easiest range finders there is a MilDot. You can read about them at http://www.leupold.com/tiret.html#milldot . No batterys, another piece of equipment, Lasers.. just a couple dots placed on the stanze wires of your scope. Simple.

IMO that is.

GySgt, USMC(Ret)
NRA Life, Lodge 1201-UOSSS
"Si vis Pacem Para Bellum"

February 11, 2000, 12:20 AM
Art, thats how I do it. Football fields. I know so many of the places that I hunt in Colorado by heart. It is the hardest thing to do for me especially when you only get to do it a few times a year. I try and estimate many objects whenever I'm on foot. Just practice!!!!

From my cold dead hands.

Dave R
February 12, 2000, 11:23 AM
Finally found my copy of "Point of Impact" and found the section on range estimation (p 52). And I quote:

"Some men could look at something and by the weird mechanics of the brain simply know what the distance was. Not Bob. So he had worked out a crude naked-eye system in Vietnam. If he could make out eyes, he knew he was inside 100 yards...If he could make out face, he was under two hundred yards. If he could just make out head, he was under three hundred..."

Don't know if this estimation system is fiction, but sounds reasonable. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. Great shooter's novel. One of the "heroes" is a Remington 700 in .308, introduced on page 7. "Point of Impact" by Stephen Hunter published by Bantam books.

February 12, 2000, 06:27 PM
mil dot is the way to go...if you dont have a scope, invest in a set of stiener binos with a recticle.-johnny

Art Eatman
February 12, 2000, 09:04 PM
Also, http://www.leatherwood.com for their new "Hunter" scope. Retail $299. But heavy.

I've read all Hunter's books. "Point of Impact" is still my favorite.

Dr. Rob: If you shoot over, the deer usually won't spook (at 300 or 400 yards). If you shoot under, the bullet "sonic boom" or its impact close to him will often put him into "Don't be here!" mode.

:), Art