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Dead-On Rangefinder for Bow Hunters

Updated on July 5, 2011

Electronic vs Non-Electronic Bow Mounted Rangefinders

Many bow hunters that realize the importance of proper distance estimation have turned to bow mounted rangefinders to ensure their accuracy. A distance estimate that is off by a little as 5 yards on a 40 yard shot will typically be a guaranteed miss. A hunter must be careful when selecting a bow mounted rangefinder, because electronic versions are not legal in 23 US States currently.

There are many benefits for a bow mounted rangefinder as opposed to a hand held rangefinder. A hunter must be concerned with potential noise generated from picking up and setting down a hand held unit prior to a shot. Worse yet, is the movement associated with a traditional rangefinder, than may get you spotted by your game and ruin your shooting opportunity.

For states where electronic models are not allowed on a hunting bow, there is a non-electronic model called the Dead-On Rangefinder. The concept is pretty simple. It mounts to your existing bow sight bracket, and contains a series of fibre optic pins that are mounted in pre-defined holes. One pin is called the Belly Line pin. Then depending upon what type of game you are hunting, there will be a pin set for 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards, 50 yards, and 60 yards. The Belly Line pin and the distance pins are used to measure the distance to your game.

This works off of the tried and true method of "bracketing". By bracketing your game from the belly to the back with the pins on this rangefinder, you can determine the range to the target. The average belly to back size of a whitetail deer will be appear smaller as the distance increases. At 20 yards, it appears much larger and at 60 yards it appears much smaller. So the pins are set based on these measurements. You can watch the video below for an example on how this exactly works.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The Dead-on Rangefinder has many benefits, but there are a few drawbacks to consider as well.


  • The biggest benefit by far is cost. You can save well over $200 by purchasing a non-electronic bow mounted rangefinder as opposed to an electronic version. The Dead-on Rangefinder can typically be purchased for less than $25.00.
  • It is legal in all 50 states.
  • Deer that are harvested with a Dead-on rangefinder are eligible for the Pope & Young record book based on the Rules of Fair Chase. Deer harvested with an electronic bow mounted rangefinder are not eligible.
  • No batteries required.
  • Can be configured for many different species of game.
  • Just plain simple to set up and operate.


  • The Dead-on rangefinder is not 100% exact. It is an approximation, but there may be a slight degree of error depending on varying body sizes of deer.
  • Must be reconfigured for different species of game. For example, the pins would need to be reset for turkey or elk, due to the differences in their body sizes. Electronic models, like the Leupold Vendetta, use a laser to determine exact distance.

Demonstration of the Dead-on Rangefinder


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    • WittyWeddings profile image

      Hayley LaGarce 6 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      Nice hub! Even though I don't have a deep knowledge of bows you put it in a way that was understandable.