Here are some insights for yielding a range measurement when initially it appears you cannot, as well as how to stretch your ranging to the maximum distance possible.
1. Aim the laser as precisely and solidly as your rifle. Not only is it essential that you laze the correct object, but I've found that steadying the laser increases the likelihood that enough light is reflected for the sensor to get a reading. Optical depth of field for a distant target can visually confuse your aim, so laze several times for especially long-range targets to confirm the distance.
2. Laze a suitably sized object. As already noted, the laser beam at some distances is much larger than a human, so find a suitably sized object at the same distance and laze that instead. Usually, the larger the object, the better. At 1,000 yards, that beam is approximately the size of a car.
3. Appreciate the effect of ambient light. Bright sunlight or strong artificial light reduces your laser's maximum range because this extra, intense light overwhelms and somewhat confuses the laser's light sensor. Even waiting for clouds to block the sun can help, as can lazing into a shadow, but only marginally. The very longest ranging is achieved in overcast or at dusk. That's when I've had lasers range beyond their official maximum.
4. Cojuider the lazed target's density. The thicker and more impervious your target, the better. If you must laze foliage, go for the thickest clump of broad leaves rather than an equal area of pine needles, which may diffuse laser light. A solid cliff face is better yet. If you're lazing in grassland, don't laze at the grass but at a spot of exposed earth.
5. Target reflectivity matters, too. A shiny surface reflects laser light better than a dull surface. Look for wet leaves rather than dry ground. License plates work especially well, as does corrugated aluminum.
6. The target's color influences its reflectivity. A bright color usually reflects laser light better than a dark color. Alternatively, I've had difficulty lazing into fresh fallen snow, I think because the snow's microscopic crystals absorb and diffuse the light. Instead, find a clump of exposed earth or a tree in the snowy area and laze that.
7. The shape of the target affects hou< well lazed light bounces off it. Lazing onto a flat surface usually generates better reflection than on a concave or convex surface. For example, a flat rock the same wLdth as a tree trunk should reflect more readable light because some of the light hitting the curved trunk will be deflected. 8. The angle of your beam on the target surface affects reflection. Related to an object's shape is the angle of your beam on it. For the best generation of reflected light, your beam should impact perpendicular, at 90 degrees, to the object's surface. Most of this light will bounce back toward you and the lazer's sensor.
All these factors dynamically interrelate to varying degrees, for varying effects. For example, during a visit to the U.S. Army Sniper School, I was on the Burroughs Rifle Range and lazed an old M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) well beyond the maximum range of my 600-yard Bushnetl laser. Still, it ranged instantly at 750 yards! But that APC was dull olive drab, and this was midday in full sunlight. How could that have happened? The extent to which bright light and a dull color affected the laser beam was dramatically more than countered by the APC's large, dense, flat surface, against which my beam had pointed perpendicularly.
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Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.