They’re using lasers, Captain!

Bowhunting seems like an unlikely sport in which to find gadgets that were science fiction just a short time ago, but believe it or not, some bowhunters in Oregon have come up with an innovation that looks like something out of Universal Soldier.


The Neverguess Rangefinder is an arm-worm laser rangefinder for bowhunters. This is no toy; in addition to the usual line-of-sight distance to the target, this gadget also has a “tilt sensor” so it can accurately calculate true horizontal distance. What does that mean? Remember your geometry lessons from High School; in the diagram, the slant height in red is longer than the true horizontal distance (in blue).


While the difference means very little to non-hunters, any marksman will tell you that the time-of-flight of any missile, be it a hurled rock, an arrow, or a bullet, is dependent almost entirely on the true horizontal distance traveled; having that figure known makes a one-shot, one-kill out come much more likely.

In addition to the gee-whiz factor of having a laser on your arm, the Neverguess Rangefinder is lightweight (16 ounces, or just 448 grams), waterproof, durable (the case is anodized camo aluminium, not painted; most of the internal parts are stainless, and the armguard/armmount is reinforced camo Cordura and velcro) and, because it mounts to your arm rather than the bow, it’s legal in all US States.

The calibration of each unit is done on a high-tech calibration stand using more lasers, and assembly is accomplished right here in the USA using high-tech adhesives and tools that would make Dr. Who envious (no, they don’t use a sonic screwdriver – yet).

Not only is this a geeky gadget, the price has just been reduced a full 25 percent.

The guys have promised me some super-geeky tech info and a tour of the assembly plant later today, so check back soon for more pics and some numbers.

UPDATE: Well, I wanted pics of the calibration bench, but it turns out that the exact method used now is a closely-guarded trade secret, so we can’t show it. I can tell you the old method: A retro-reflective target is set up at a measured distance from the rangefinder, and then the technician “dials in” the correct range. This is fairly slow and pretty labor-intensive, which is why the new bench is such a hush-hush big deal.

Here are some technical facts and figures:

  • The laser diode operates at 905nm (near infrared, or “NIR”). It’s invisible to humans and animals, although that teacher you had in Third Grade who could see through the wall of the cloak room when you were breaking the rulesĀ  might be able to detect it.
  • Optics are designed and anti-reflective coated specifically for the laser.
  • Body is camo anodized, which actually “leeches” the picture into the aluminum, then sealed.
  • The adhesive used for construction and waterproofing is cured using an ultraviolet lamp.
  • Every time the button (which is on the hunter’s fingertip, at the end of the wire seen in the photo up top) is pressed, the rangefinder actuates 64 times (at approx 900 MHz), then evaluates the statistics of the return hits in order to filter out brush, or other accidental hits. In the event of a statistical tie, the computer will prefer the further target.
  • The display automatically brightens/dims based on ambient light conditions.

Source: Scott Lawson by way of

Full disclosure: Icesnake is one of the Webmasters for in addition to his assorted other hobbies and passtimes.

By icesnake

Icesnake, known to Law Enforcement the world over as Rich Tietjens, retired from the US Army in 1992 and has spent the intervening years attempting to die with the most gadgets, and thus, win. To this end, he has written software both as a freelance programmer and a paid consultant, tested network products and built driver disks for Intel, operated a Web hosting service for ten years, built more personal computers than any sane man would ever want, collected seven cats, and finally settled down in Oregon as the Information Technology Training Coordinator (fancy talk for "help desk and PC tech") for a small manufacturing firm. Rich started playing Dungeons and Dragons in 1976 and has never given up the RPG habit, progressing through Diablo, Everquest, Asheron's Call, Diablo 2, and World of Warcraft. Most evenings you can find him on Trollbane-US playing his mage, Icesnake - who is an Engineer and is trying to collect all the cool gadgets in Greater Azeroth... And so it goes.

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