What Is HCD On A Rangefinder

So, you love to hunt, who doesn’t? It’s one of the many thrilling activities that not only connects you with mother nature but also supplies you with meat.

Now, imagine this scenario; you’re out hunting for a game. You see a nice healthy animal just a few yards ahead. You approach the game cautiously and with great skill.

Your rifle in one hand, rangefinder in the other. You notice the game is on level ground from where you stand.

You continue to move slowly towards the target and stop a short distance from it so as not to spook it.

The animal is still standing on flat land, this is when there are no inclinations or declinations between your position and that of your game.

You aim your rangefinder at the target and begin to calculate its distance.

The total distance from where you are to the position of the target is the Horizontal component distance, HCD.

What Is HCD On A Rangefinder?

What Is HCD On A Rangefinder

Horizontal component distance is the distance measured between you and your target when there is no angle of incline or decline and you are on an equal plane.

However, if you are not on the same plane as your target, that is you are on a higher or lower plane, then the distance between you and your target becomes your actual distance, different from your horizontal distance. To know more about it, read our article on line of sight of a rangefinder.

When Is HCD Useful?

Rangefinders normally enable you to locate and lock on targets using their actual distance.

Seeing as actual distance and horizontal distance is often the same thing, as long as there is no angle of incline and decline, you can utilize a rangefinder that isn’t equipped for angle compensation.

You can just use the actual distance. However, if you are atop a tree and you aim for a target on the ground, you must utilize a rangefinder that can compensate for the angle difference and calculate the horizontal distance. 

If you aim at flatland, you are free to use either the actual or horizontal position, but if you’re aiming from an elevated position, you must utilize the horizontal distance ability of the rangefinder.


There are so many things to consider when you begin hunting for a game. You must understand how to effectively utilize your rangefinder to get accurate results.

You must also learn how when to switch to your horizontal component distance, or when to stick with your actual distance.

Now here is the tricky part; when you are aiming your rangefinder at a target that is not on your plane. That is, you are aiming from an elevated plane, you must set your sights on utilizing the horizontal distance.

The actual distance will be misleading, and should not in any way be the distance you settle for if you want to avoid errors.

You may aim at a target that is some 12 yards but as a result of using just the actual distance, you may decide to aim your rifle as if the target is 13 yards away, which is the actual distance, thereby missing the target entirely. 

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