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What is a range finder?

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Ok, so still in my quest to find and/or understand benchmark hunting (in various ways it is more difficult than geocaching!), I'm wondering what a range finder is, and where I might get one? I've seen reference to them at least twice. Quick googles show me both photography and golf devices.


I found my second ever benchmark today (yay!), but was put off again by distance measurements. Unfortunately for me, the co-ordinates given were accurate, but I didn't believe it! I started to try to measure distances from the given landmarks.


"Wan't" and "differen't" are not words.

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Range finders.


Most often used for hunting. Some have magnifying ability. Just look thru the eyepiece at the object in question, press a button & it gives you distance in either yards or meters, depending on which you have it set on.


The Nikon I have is supposed to be accurate + or - 1 yard up to 800 yards with 8X magnification. Seems like I paid around $300 for mine about a year ago (very helpful for muzzleloading hunting).


Look at Cabela's or most any sporting goods store. Also might try better Photo stores. Seems like most of the camera makers are expanding their optics lines to include scopes, binoculars and such anymore.





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In the old days, before the GPS system, surveyers used benchmarks to reference their measurements. In order to lay out a lot in town, for instance, the surveyor would locate the nearest benchmark to the area being surveyed. He would then "chain" or use a viewfinder device, also called a rangefinder, this was used to measure distances to the "staff", which was usually being held by an assistant. They would continue this measuring from point to point, until the property was "surveyed". Before rangefinders, they used the "chain" method, very time consuming. Later came the laser method then finally the GPS system. The USGS would often place "range" benchmarks as referance points to make the surveyors job a bit easier. They would also place tringulation benchmarks for the same purpose. You will find that areas with hills will usually have more benchmarks than flatland.

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Keep in mind that many types of objects used as reference points in the descriptions, such as power poles, fire hydrants, roads, etc. are often moved or replaced in the course of development. If you are using an old description, be aware that such objects may now be in a different location and the distances given will no longer work. KS John has described optical range finders. Those with more money to thrown down many want to consider handheld laser range finders, such as those made by Trimble, Leica, etc. These are less precise than the lasers used by surveyors, which are far more expensive, but very handy for measuring over or around obstacles. For example, you can measure the distance to a building from a road without trespassing on the property or measure the distance across a freeway without disturbing traffic. The method of range finding mentioned by S & M is known as Stadia, and is a type of optical range finding formerly used by surveyors. It is not practical for use by an individual, since it requires the observation of a graduated rod or pole, which would need to be put in place by the individual, unless a second person were available to hold it and move it around.

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Wow, you guys rock.


The one benchmark I found today, kv4908 was recovered in 1991, and the recovery does indeed state that some of the landmarks are destroyed. I think that the stone was also moved, but that may just be that I am still wet behind the ears.


Thanks for all the info.



"Wan't" and "differen't" are not words.

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Bumping an old thread, but just picked up a Bushnel YardagePro at Sportmart yesterday for 179.97 plus tax. Depending on the target, it ranges out to 640 meters/700 yards, and is a laser rangefinder.


I may have gotten lucky on this purchase, there were two Bushnel rangefinders in the display case, one with what appeared to be two objective lens' with a center laser source, and a single eyepiece, and the other a monocular style with a single objective lens, additional laser lens, and a single eyepiece.


The box the rangefinder I picked up has a price tag on it reading both 389.99 and 299.99, but the salesman was unable to find any pricing information on the other rangefinder so rather than wait another 20 or 30 min (I was picking this up while waiting on going to a movie) we both agreed to the 179.97 on the tag being for this rangefinder. (the back of that tag did have something close to the 389.99 price, so I feel I did not rip them off)


I think I would have been happy with either, as the other provided feedback on the quality of the target being ranged.


As the accuracy is +/- 1 yard, I am not sure that it will be helpful on marks that are less than 50 yards from reference points, but I am very sure it will come in handy when measuring points across well used highways. If it can get me to within a couple of yards of a marker, I think I can handle the rest.



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