Contributors to this thread:
Up and DownHill - No Compensating Rangef
I am mainly a whitetail hunter that hasn't shot over 30 yards at an animal. Hilly ground but not steep. Anyway, I have never felt the need for a compensating rangefinder. I am leaving for a Wyoming elk hunt in 3 weeks and I am hoping maybe there is an online calculator I can punch some potential situations into so that I have a general idea of how to make the shot when presented. If there isn't a calculator or formula to use maybe some of you guys could let me know when the yardage difference really comes into play. First situation I am thinking about would be a 40 yard shot both up and down hill assuming a 20 degree slope which would put the elk 44 feet above or below me. What would you shoot for yardage for both up and downhill in this situation. Feel free to add more thoughts from those that don't have the special rangefinder. Thanks in advance. Ken
If it’s moderately steep (your 20 degree example) I’d drop about 8% of the yardage, really steep about 12% and round up. So for your 40 yard example I’d drop 3 and 5 yards respectively.
At 40 yards linear, either up or down a 20 degree slope, holding yardage is 37.6.
You're not always shooting steep angles in elk country, but it's entirely possible. Easiest solution is to use a rangefinder that compensates, so you don't need to think about it and waste time at the moment of truth.
Get a rangefinder that calculates this for you! Don't mess around with guessing, if you do you'll be nervous in the event you're faced with that scenario.
Several years ago I was calling a bull in, I saw movement 250 yards below me as he was working his way through the trees & brush coming to my calling. I was on a large rock-mass & he was below me coming up towards the rock. It was pretty steep between us & I started ranging things below me to get an idea of what was what distance. One object was a burned stump, I guessed it at 40 yards but my rangefinder told me it was 22 yards, I'm like no way in hell it's only 22 yards, I ranged it several times, same reading!
Sure enough the bull comes up & goes right by this stump & I stop him with a grunt, I trusted technology over my gut & whistled that arrow through both lungs with top pin! Get A Rangefinder calculating uphill/downhill just in case!
What elknut said!
You can borrow my leupold if you want. I wouldnt be comfortable guessing and would want to be sure of the distance. Seriously, an elk tag is gonna be quite a few years in the making again so give it your best chance!
Getting an angle correcting rangefinder really is the way to go....but if you are set on going without one......these will get you close.....for a 30 degree slope measured with a non-angle correcting rangefinder, multiply the distance by 0.9. Thus an animal at 50 yards should be shot at as if he was 45 yards away. For a shot at a 45 degree angle, multiply by 0.7, and for an animal on a 60 degree slope, multiply by 0.5.....and remember, that applies for uphill shots as well as downhill shots. The problem is that most people are worse at guessing degrees of slope than they are at guessing the distance.....let alone an angle corrected distance. That is why the angle corrected rangefinder is a really good decision.
I personally wouldn’t chance not having an rangefinder on your first elk hunt. They’re never level for me.
I’ll echo what others have said…I wouldn’t be without an angle compensating rangefinder. It’s like insurance, you don’t need it till you need it. The last thing I would want when you-know-what starts hitting the fan is going through some sort of mental math gymnastics.
"I have never felt the need for a compensating rangefinder"
I think you may have a need now...... Enjoy that elk hunt and let us know how you did. Good luck!
Or get a garminXero A1i bow sight, never worry about an angle or yardage again!
I used to cut both up and down hill with my Hoyt. With the Reckoning I only cut on downhill shots.
Find a hill or stick a target butt on your roof and shoot up then switch and shoot down. I wouldn't go into a hunt blind, a little practice will go a long way. Footing can also throw a wrench into the gears.
I have an angle compensating range finder now and wouldn't hunt in the mountains without one. That being said up until a few years ago I hunted with a non compensating range finder. Of the sixteen elk I've killed I believe I only had time to range 3 or 4 of them and those were on level enough terrain that slope didn't matter. Usually it happens so fast that there isn't time to range the elk, although I've often ranged nearby objects prior to the elk coming in.
If you want to work through some scenarios with various slope distances and degrees of slope you just use basic right angle trigonometry (pythagorean theorem). If you have a calculator with the trigonometric functions for cosine, sine & tangent (COS, SIN & TAN) you can multiply the slope distance by the cosine of the angle and it will give you the horizonal distance.
For instance on a 50 yard shot on a 20 degree slope, the cosine of 20 degrees is 0.94.
.94 x 50 = 46.98. You would shoot for a horizontal distance of 47 yards.
If you don't have a scientific calculator with trig functions you can download one to your phone off the Internet for free.
I'm with Mike, I occasionally use my angle compensating range finder to range nearby objects, if
I have time, but I've never actually ranged an animal before shooting it. In most cases, messing with a range finder at the moment of truth would have likely blown the shot opportunity. I could forget to pack my range finder and not miss it at all. I just trust the range finder in my head. Years of competitive 3D shooting with no range finders has helped a bunch.
So many good affordable options for range finders that compensate, I really don’t know why any serious hunter wouldn’t have one honestly. That said I also agree that in elk country I rarely find the angles so hard that it is an absolute necessity.
I won’t say always or never, but I personally hardly ever shoot without ranging the animal or landmarks at anything over 30ish yards. It can be very challenging in the mountains and open terrain to get accurate ranges without experience in those situations (eastern whitetail tree-stand guys). I will admit that sometimes I am prone to over ranging, but I guess I would rather have a better range than not. Not sure I have ever spooked an animal I was planning to shoot by ranging honestly.
I have used the same range finder now for about 16 years. It does not have angle compensation. I just range objects around me to get an idea. If an elk comes in front of that object or behind I quickly adjust my yardage in my brain and compensate. With my setup I can aim at just below the centerline of vitals anywhere from 40 yds and in. No extra pins needed at different yardages. My single pin is set at 35 yds. 2” low at 40 to 4” high at 20 and in. I’ve used this system for well over 30 years.
I’m going to add that the easiest thing to do is just subtract a few yards from what your rangefinder tells you.
I’m with elknut….get a range finder that does that. You’re paying to go on an elk hunt. Don’t let math ruin it. If I was home I send you my vortex but I’m probably not back before you leave.
"I really don’t know why any serious hunter wouldn’t have one honestly.
I think any serious bow hunter should become proficient at estimating yardages within their effective range without needing a range finder. To me, that skill is equally as important as becoming a proficient shooter, and it takes just as much practice. I know unfamiliar terrain can make it challenging, but it's not that difficult.
I've guided bow hunters who were completely reliant on their range finders, even for shots under 30 yards. Inevitably, they would miss a shot opportunity because they were ranging when they should have been drawing and shooting. Or, they would mistakenly range a nearby object instead of the animal, then shoot for the wrong distance.
To each his own, though. When I'm in a potential shooting situation, my focus is on the animal and looking for the first shot opportunity. I don't even think about which pin to use, it just comes instinctively. I'm not always 100% accurate, but I'm usually close enough that it doesn't make a significant difference on POI.
What Mike said is spot on IMO.
Steep uphill or downhill, hold low, correct?
Cheesehead, I wish someone would have explained that to me in college. I might not have dropped out!
Haha ahawkeye, the toughest part of college for be was some cutie giving me a sine she was interested and then I'd go off on a tangent! ;-)
Thanks for the responses guys. I really appreciate the offer from Matt and Nick to send me their rangefinders but you all have talked me into buying one. Too many bowsiters I respect are saying the same thing so it's hard to ignore. I do find the topic interesting though so I continued to research it today and found the following. I haven't done Mike's cosign formula to check these though. 15 degree = minus 5% 20 degree = minus 7% 25 degree = minus 11% 30 degree = minus 16% 35 degree = minus 20%
I’ve hunted in a bunch of different states and provinces and, even though I am pretty damned good at range estimation on familiar ground, I find that I am not near as close in vastly different terrain or in instances where I cannot see the ground between the target and me. A RF that provides angle compensation is nice to have.
Always add 5 yds. Downhill. If there's tree at eye level pic on the animal.is standing next to and range the tree level to you.
Grey ghost those instincts aren't paying off. Maybe you should get a range finder and quit gut shooting elk
Good info. I hunted whitetails my whole life so I know your situation. I would really really try to borrow an angle compensating rangefinder. That said I would guess there is at most a 1 in 4 chance you will shoot at an angle that matters at all (over 20 degrees).
Also another trick is a 3, 4 5 triangle. Google it, very helpful and easy to remember. I quickly learned that after hutning my whole life in thick woods for deer in open country I was often way off on distance. On my 4th elk hunt I was sitting and I always try to guess distances before I range for practice. I guessed a small pine in the opening next to me was 50 yards, 60 max. I really thought it was 30-40 but I knew I was always short because it is more open then whitetail woods. I took my time and really thought it was 55, I ranged it at 99 yards!
Orion, I've often wondered if you are as rude and mouthy in person. I'm betting you aren't.
Big dog 21 must be missing a whole lot of shots way over their backs! Gotta cut yards bro, not gonna be adding them…
Easy, bring the animal straight up or down to your level and use that yardage. Works like a charm if there are trees.
To piggy back off what cheesehead Mike said. If you have an IPhone your calculator will provide Cos, Sin and Tan as well as square roots already. Just turn your phone horizontal when using the calculator.
It’s nice to check the accuracy of your angle compensating rangefinder. I am with the masses. I wouldn’t hunt without one.
Just buy one. It’ll be cheapest part of the elk hunt
Fastflight, Using the cosine formula: 15* down (or up) angle...reduce yardage by -4% 20* is -6% 25* is -9% 30* is -13% 35* is -18% 40* is -23% 45* is -29% Note that all * means degrees and all % are rounded to the nearest degree.
You are making the correct move buying an angle corrected rangefinder! And I'd recommend one that instantly angle corrects as well as angle corrects in scan mode. Scan mode allows very fast repeat yardage to verify the range an animal is at.
Good luck on the elk hunt!
Find a friend that golfs and borrow his rangefinder if you do not want to invest in one. You already have a bunch of $$$ invested to hunt WY you should to guess the distance on a long range up bill or down hill shot.
I enjoy mental math and doing it all the time, I wouldn't worry as a ballpark guess of just "removing a couple yards, or 5 yards" depending on distance would likely get you with a yard or two. With today's compounds you won't be missing if you're within a yard or two.
That being said, because of the availability of equipment I wouldn't even go through the bother and just make sure I have a compensating RF. The issue is just too easy to get rid of. If I absolutely didn't have a spare dollar I wouldn't let it bother me though.
As JTreeman says - bigdog is gonna do a lot of missing being off by 10 yards!
Matt made an excellent point regarding estimating range in different environments. I’m really good in my own environment (high desert and open mountain terrain) but put me in a shaded forest and my range estimates are always off enough the first few days to result in a wound or miss. An angle compensation range finder is pretty inexpensive and as pointed out get one with an option that shows the angle adjusted range as the only or primary range readout you’ll see.
Adding to that, when hunting in unfamiliar environments it is smart to guess and then range to validate a variety of objects to help re-calibrate your brain prior to having to use the RF in a shooting situation.
Thanks again for the many replies. I am still planning on getting a new range finder but I also think this information could be very useful if the situation doesn't allow me to range the animal. Hopefully I can get within range of one now. I am 0-2 so far. Third times a charm I hope.
W said, "Steep uphill or downhill, hold low, correct?" Yes, but by how much? Without getting into gravity assistance or approaching optimal angles, this simple graph shows the difference in distance. Whether shooting from position A or B,, C is always shorter. Steeper the angle = shorter the shot distance.
In LeeBuzz's graphic above the land surveyor's term for the line A-B is the slope distance. The line A-C is the horizonal (level) distance. Obviously gravity only affects an arrow based on the horizontal distance so that's all we care about.
Surveyors measure the slope distance of land but then correct for the the horizonal distance because that's what land descriptions/deeds and ownership are based on.
"gravity only affects an arrow based on the horizontal distance so that's all we care about" True Mike, gravity assistance is somewhat negligible. Shooting from an elevated angle is energy stored by hiking or climbing to get there. And shooting up towards optimal angle (45°) energy is used for more distance. Again, negligible, but interesting to think about.
As Mike talks about above, this is why if I was higher than the target, I would envision the target at my level and use that distance. If the animal were standing by a tree, I would judge the distance from my level straight out to the tree. It always worked great.
I shoot without sights instinctively so I do a lot practicing shooting uphill and downhill. With traditional bows it makes a big difference even at short distances.
Will, I've been shooting a recurve instinctive for a few years new. For whatever reason shooting elevated does not affect me as much as it did when shooting compound and sites.
This thread made me realize my rangefinder was set to horizontal distance so it is compensating for the angle. If your rangefinder doesn't compensate you can always resort to using a level to estimate the angle and a small scientific calculator to multiply the hypotenuse reading from your range finder by the cosine of the angle to get the horizontal distance. Make sure your calculator is set to the appropriate units for your slope (radians or degrees). As mentioned above, cosine of the angle is always going to be less than 1.0, so that's a good double check if you've made a mistake.
Referring to my graph above; If an arrow follows the path of the line between A and B, then what is the line between B and C, elevation?
LOL, you guys are making way too much of this, it isn't that difficult. Are you serious on the calculation of the shot? Bring the obiect to your level and estimate the yardage, simple.
What wapitibob said: practice uphill and downhill shots.
Elk don't wait on ciphering or pulling out a rangefinder for their every step.
Just buy a real rangefinder and be done with it
For me going from the midwest to the western states, judging yardage is hard. Things tend to look closer than they are.
I use a range finder and just check random stuff to kind of tune up my eye. Also if setting up to call the first thing i do is range a few things so i have an idea.
That being said, in the heat of the moment ive never had time to range an elk. It always just happens too fast.
I recommend getting one. Distance out there is just kind of deceiving.
Before I had the angle compensator range finder, I would range a tree's base and then what looked like a level line to the tree. This would tell me about how far to shoot depending on what tree the critter showed up at.