Bushnell Yardage Pro 800
Laser Rangefinder

Product Review

By Bill Wade

Yet another new tool that I used at the "Prairie Dog Conference" was the Yardage Pro 800. At first glance, the Yardage Pro line of rangefinders looks like binoculars. They are compact, smooth lined and lightweight. Closer inspection reveals a single eyepiece in the center, a monocular.

Building them similar to binoculars, makes good sense. When you pick them up, they feel familiar and you don't have to go searching for the operating buttons. The 2 operating buttons are positioned to be operated with your index fingers. Other brands that I have seen in catalogs and a brand that I tried one day, seem to have taken their design from camcorders. In a hunting situation, where target acquisition time and ability may be limited, most of us will find ourselves more familiar with a binocular style and size. Pics

The left-hand button sets the Mode and allows you to select one of five targeting modes:
  • Standard - target to 800 yards on moderately reflective targets.
  • Scan - used when there may be several targets or moving targets and refreshes every 10 seconds (while the fire button is pressed).
  • Reflective - for highly reflective targets like signs or reflectors (increased distance capacity)
  • Rain - the system ignores precipitation feedback.
  • Zip Thru - for short distances in brush (115-165 yards)
  • The mode button can also select unit of measure, yards or meters.

    The right-hand button fires the laser at the target you have acquired. Target acquisition is accomplished through the eyepiece, a monocular with a fixed 6-x magnification. Within the monocular is a LCD screen with indicators for the firing Laser, Mode, Target quality, Distance and low Battery. While all of this might sound obtrusive through a monocular, I found the indicators to be easy to read while still allowing a good field of view.

    Now with this being my first prairie dog shooting venture, I was not certain what to expect on shooting distances or the pace at which the shooting would be done.

    Turns out that most of our shooting was done between 100 and 400 yards though this unit is capable of measuring distances twice that.

    The simplest way to describe the shooting pace would be to compare it to a shooting gallery at a carnival. The targets are there and they are scattered at various distances, some might even be moving. Rather than fire a shot and check the distance on the next target, one is very likely to reposition the gun and fire again.

    I mentioned that I used my Elite 4200 scope for a rangefinder and this is why. Because I just could not stop to check the distance for each target or even every other target. Odds in hitting on the first shot with the wind blowing the way it was, were slim to none anyway.

    Using the rangefinder we could check our max distance across the dog town and then have a pretty good idea on distance to targets between us and the max distance.

    I also used the rangefinder to confirm distance on kills and get a general idea for other potential targets that might pop up at any moment in the same vacinity.

    Target acquisition with the rangefinder was a little tricky on prairie dogs but you could usually get a reading from a mound. I tried the rangefinder on elk in Estes Park, and that was pretty slick though I felt guilty looking at these overgrown pets with "hunting equipment".

    My guestimates were pretty darn close and the rangefinder would confirm that. Guestimates don't always work though. A buddy of mine, Ron Roberts, stopped by the farm recently and we were kind of glancing around for shooting lanes that would present good site-in distances should one accidentally build a shooting bench and target range. Ron went to his truck and produced a Yardage Pro 400 and promptly shot down several potential shooting lanes, as they were shorter and longer than we had guessed.

    Which brings up a very good point about rangefinders. They can be used for numerous different projects and situations.

    During you pre-season scouting you could check distances and once a stand is chosen, you can very easily check distances to various landmarks within your shooting lane.

    Setting up for calling coyotes, you could quickly check your distances, before you start calling.

    Bird hunters are not left out either as the rangefinder would be useful for checking distances across ponds or feed lots for dove and other foul.

    Beyond hunting situations, you will find other uses for a rangefinder such as determining how much fencing material to purchase. Even measuring for fertilizer and seed applications could be accomplished quite easily. Sure beats trying to step it off or tape it.

    Though keeping up with technology can drive you crazy, this is one tool that will prove itself worth the money. The Yardage Pro 800 can be bought for under $350 and the 400 yard model brings less than $225

    Visit Bausch and Lomb on the internet.

    Bill Wade


    Copyright Centerfire Central, LLC 2004