Detection theory of single photon avalanche diodes(SPADs),which are applied in photon counting imaging light detection and ranging(LIDAR)system, is analyzed in detail in this paper. Four types of common quenching circuits based on SPADs, namely passive quenching, active quenching, gate-control quenching, and hybrid quenching circuits are studied. Furthermore,operational principle and performance characteristics of each of these four types of quenching circuits are fully discussed. Besides, an improved hybrid quenching circuit prone to be integrated with ASIC technology is brought up. Analysis shows that this new circuit can quench and reset SPADs with high speed, meeting the demands for qualities of quenching circuits in photon counting imaging LIDAR system. Also, results of theoretical study indicate that some performance indexes like response rate, quenching speed and dead time are satisfactory. Above all, this quenching circuit is simpler in structure and its cost is much smaller compared with common quenching circuits known to us in papers published so far. As a result, the prospect of this new circuit is probably good after more efforts are taken to integrate it with photon counting imaging LIDAR.