Since they started sticking pin sights on bows back in the 1980s, they have sure come a long way! The first bow sights were hard to adjust, prone to bending and could easily get knocked out of alignment. Today’s best bow sights avoid most of those issues and will really help you lock in on that trophy buck!
There was a time where there were no sights and it still common to see traditional equipment with no sighting mechanism at all. Those bows had none of the let-offs that today’s bows have and the arrow trajectory was nowhere near as straight.
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- Top 5 Best Bow Sights (Summary)
- What Are Bow Sights
- Benefits of Using a Bow Sight
- Pros and Cons of Using Bow Sights
- Bow Sights vs Instinctive Aiming
- Types of Bow Sights
- How to Choose the Best Bow Sight
- 13 Best Bow Sights of 2020
- Single Pin vs Multi-Pin Bow Sights
- Hunting Environments
- Best Brands of Bow Sights
- How to Adjust Your Bow Sight
- How to Sight in a Bow
- How to Hold and Release a Bow
- Quick Tips on Handling the Bow
- Does Spending More Mean Better Quality
- Do’s and Don’ts With Bow Sights
- Get ready to aim straight
- Frequently Asked Questions About Bow Sights
Top 5 Best Bow Sights (Summary)
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|Trophy Ridge Pursuit||
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For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
A modern bow will shoot flat, sometimes for dozens of yards. This makes the use of sights a viable alternative to what amounted to intelligent guesswork. By locking in pins at various ranges, estimation of hold over becomes much easier and human error is minimized.
If you are a bowhunter, you know what a pain human error can be. That moment when you draw on a big buck is not the time to make split-second decisions and risk your overly excited mind making the wrong one. The closer to a science we can make shooting an arrow, the better off we will be.
Of course, we don’t have to use pins anymore. A variety of sights exist that use a reticle, not unlike a rifle scope that can be quickly adjusted for range. Other sights may have a single pin that serves the same purpose, but if you want the old school pin sights, those are still very popular and highly available.
We will discuss the pros and cons of each type later, for now, let’s introduce some sights!
What Are Bow Sights
Hunting and archery require a lot of gear. In addition to bringing things like a reliable crossbow scope, you might want to carry along a bow sight.
Sight on a bow is just like the one used on a firearm — it helps with accuracy. Bow sights have been around for about three decades and offer archers and hunters a way to perfect their distance aiming. This mechanism improves precision and helps you hit your target.
It’s a small, light tool that you can attach directly to your bow riser. If wind, lack of daylight or weather are affecting your target practice, a bow sight might be the right device for you. You can adjust it to account for wind and other common issues you’ll run into out in the field.
A bow sight works in conjunction with a peep sight, which is a tiny hole installed into the line of the bow. You look through the pee sight to aim — some even come with a sunshade to help you see better.
There are a variety of options when shopping around, such as fixed or adjustable. A fixed sight is often used for hunting and an adjustable item is often recommended for target practice or archery. However, many people prefer to use one kind of sight for all activities.
Each bow sight has either a single pin or multiple pins and each of them designates a different distance. In a multi-pin set-up, the top pin signals the closest distance, usually 20 yards. The next pin represents 10 yards further than that and the bottom pin is the furthest distance away.
A bow sight can have between one and seven pins. In a single-pin sight, you adjust the pin each time you want to shoot a different distance. Overall, bow sights are useful devices for beginner, intermediate and advanced shooters.
Benefits of Using a Bow Sight
Rather than waiting years to become an expert before you are able to hit your target, a bow sight can get you there quickly. Even someone new to the archery range can become more precise so they experience the thrill of making their mark.
Some sights are even equipped with a light that helps you shoot during dusk or dark. This extends the time you are able to hunt — you won’t be limited to the hours the sun is up.
Also, a bow sight is especially helpful for long distances. Shooting over a long-range is tricky, even for seasoned shooters. A lengthy distance increases the chances of the arrow straying to the wrong side, but using a bow sight sets you up for a more accurate shot.
Furthermore, it can help you become a better shot. Everyone wants to perform their best and a bow sight will help you get there by teaching you the best positioning for every shot.
Pros and Cons of Using Bow Sights
We all know you’re out there looking for the best compound bow on the market, but it’s not only the bow that will make sure you hit the target each time. A bow sight is designed to help shooters with their aim — and is much more affordable than buying a fancy bow.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a bow sight:
- Improves alignment: You’re more likely to be consistent in your posture and positioning.
- Increases precision: Using a bow sight helps you up the number of targets that you hit.
- Lowers chance of human error: Since you’re only human, it’s helpful to have a tool around that decreases the chances that you’ll mess up.
- Pinpoints target: A peep sight isn’t extremely accurate. Some shooters use only a peep sight, but to hone in on the target, adding a bow sight is much more precise.
- Saves cash: In the long term, you’ll spend much less money on lost or wasted arrows.
- Costs money upfront: A decent bow sight can cost you anywhere from under $100 all the way up to $800 or more. It all depends on how much you have to spend.
- Clutters up your bow: Some people care about having a clean-looking bow and this is one more thing to install on it.
- Blocks some of your field of vision: A bow sight undoubtedly can get in the way of your view, depending on the number of pins. If you like a totally clear view, you’ll either have to adjust to using a bow sight or opt-out.
Overall, there seem to be more positives than negatives when it comes to using a sight. If you’re looking to improve your technique and accuracy, a bow sight is a relatively low-cost investment with a lot of gains to be had.
Bow Sights vs Instinctive Aiming
Bow sights make aiming simpler. If you haven’t had the years it takes to learn how to aim instinctively, they will help you immensely.
Consider using this tool if your precision isn’t where you want it to be since it’s a tool many hunters and archers use to make them better at the sport. You can always go back to instinctive aiming once you have had enough practice to improve.
Types of Bow Sights
Bow sights range from basic and beginner to more complex systems for seasoned archers. There are 5 major types — fixed-pin sights, single-pin sights, pendulum sights, competition sights and digital sights.
Fixed Pin Bow Sights
These are the most popular. They come with vertical or horizontal pins. Most have horizontal pins but vertical pins clear up the line of sight a bit.
You don’t have to adjust the pins for each different distance like with a single pin, which makes the on-field adjustment time shorter. Instead, you adjust the multiple pins ahead of time for 3 to 7 different yardages. Often, you must adjust this type of sight with tools, but if you’re doing it ahead of time it usually isn’t a problem.
If you need to take aim at something moving, like when you’re hunting, it can be easier to already have different distances set. You can also aim in between the pins for distances that don’t match up exactly to your pins.
Single Pin or Movable Bow Sights
On this type of sight, the sole pin is moveable by hand. Generally, these sights feature a taped marking on the side of the sight with the settings for different yardage.
Some hunters prefer the single pin because it offers a clearer view without all the other pins in the way while they’re aiming, but they have to be adept at adjusting it on the go.
Also, if you have the time to make changes to your sight placement, single pin sights can be more accurate because you can set them for the exact place you want to hit. With a fixed-pin sight, you have to work with the few pins you have already set and potentially aim high or low.
Pendulum or Treestand Bow Sights
A treestand sight is meant for hunters who park in tree stands while they’re hunting. They need to aim down at their kill, which interferes with the accuracy of a standard sight. Instead, the pin is hooked onto a pendulum that swings out to increase precision at harsh angles.
Competition Bow Sights
These are the most expensive option. A competition sight is designed for the intensity of competition with a wide range of adjustment and micro-adjustments on every axis. They also often come enabled with features that allow the shooter more accuracy in high winds and harsh weather.
Unless you’re entering a competition, you probably won’t need to spend the extra money on one of these.
Digital Bow Sights
Digital sights for bows are also more expensive than single or fixed-pin ones and they’re new to the market. Lights installed in the sight create crosshairs or dots — similar to a scope on a gun. They can have a rangefinder installed so you know the distance automatically.
These are incredibly helpful for more veteran shooters, but for someone just starting out, it’s probably not worth the money quite yet.
How to Choose the Best Bow Sight
With the many options available in bow sights today, it’s best to know what you are looking for before you break out the wallet and start ordering.
Having a good idea of the setup you prefer and what you want it to do will go a long way toward making sure your money is well spent.
Picking a bow sight isn’t like picking a pair of shoes. All of them work and all of them will fit your bow, it’s just a matter of which you prefer and shoot best. Some of that is going to be trial and error but we will get you as close as we can.
These may be the newest style of sight on the market but that doesn’t mean they haven’t had plenty of time to be refined. They are still growing in popularity but have yet to equal the single pin sight as the choice for most professional hunters.
If you are more used to seeing your target through a rifle scope, you will feel right at home with a reticle sight. With a pin sight, you will often have to remember exactly how you hold the pin in relation to the target but the reticle takes out the guesswork. Just line it up and take your shot.
Reticle sights are also less cluttered. There is nothing but a single dot. No multiple pins to confuse. Of course, they are slower than a traditional multi-pin sight if you have shot pins before. The reticle also tends to be a little less durable than pins and requires more care to make sure it doesn’t get scratched.
Vertical Pin Sights
Probably the most popular sight style on the market today, the vertical pin blends the benefits of the pin sight with that of the reticle sight. Most professional hunters use these sights and if you watch Archery competitions, you will see more of these than any other style.
Like the reticle sight, your sight picture stays uncluttered. There is nothing to look at but your sight pin and the target. They are still slower to adjust than just picking a pin and shooting but are far more durable than the reticle sights to being scratched or damaged.
You will need to remember how you position your pin on the target but most people are at least somewhat familiar with the same principle from open sights on a rifle or handgun. There is little other guesswork, set your range, position your pin and let the arrow fly.
If you have shot pin sights for years, there is little reason to change. They can be as accurate as any other sight with practice.
With pins, you have to make a split-second decision on the range and you have to get the right pin. Sometimes a hunter picks the wrong pin and that tag goes unfilled. Getting used to that and keeping it in your head can be hard when there is a buck in front of you.
You also have to account for windage and in-between distances on your own but that is part of the challenge of the hunt. They do take more time and finessing to get set up and on target but once you have them, it’s really hard to mess them up.
There are a few modern pin sights that have more adjustment. If you do use pin sights, use as few pins as you need to avoid a cluttered view.
The smaller the pin, the more precisely it will help you aim. Pins come in diameters of .010, .019 and .029. A 0.10 size pin will block less of where you’re aiming than one that is sized at .029, which allows you to see the target better. A better view means more pin-pointed accuracy upon firing. Buy the smallest pins you can afford.
Some bow sights have one setting for the installed lighting system: ON. This is especially true for less expensive sights. The better the sight, the better the light.
However, many sight options come with adjustable lights. If you have fiber optic pins, you’re likely able to see when it’s almost dark. Also, a rheostat light is able to be turned up or down like a dimmer switch, depending on how much light you need.
This helps archers and hunters to not over-brighten or under-brighten a shooting situation. However, take note of local laws, as these lighted sights aren’t always legal or allowed during all seasons.
Most bow sights come installed with a small level, like the one a carpenter uses, that measures the horizontal plane of the bow. This helps to straighten your posture and make sure you’re holding the bow at the appropriate angle.
There are even options equipped with multi-axis levels for more in-depth measurement.
Some fixed sights come with tool-free adjustment knobs. These are more like a hybrid between the adjustable single-pin and the locked-in multi-pin sight. They allow you to make quick adjustments to your sight without having to dig around for your Allen key.
Hunting or using a bow for sport is not a cheap activity. A bow sight is only one piece of the total package that you have to pay for, so consider how much you’re willing to spend in terms of the total cost.
For beginners, a simple and affordable tool is perfectly fine. Once you start advancing in the sport, you can consider upgrading to a more expensive one.
Different sights complement specific activities better. For example, if you’re using a bow for hunting, many hunters choose a fixed pin sight so they don’t have to quickly adjust their sight if their target moves. This movement could easily scare away the target. Instead, they just aim for a different pin.
For target practice or archery, many people prefer the single-pin option since it’s adjustable by hand. That way, they can easily hone in on the bullseye without having to pull out any tools.
Whatever your activity, use the bow sight that makes the most sense. Consider the sight’s weight and distance range before deciding, as well.
There are two types of brackets — dovetail and fixed. Most shooters will be happy with a fixed bracket. Once a bow sight is installed, there is usually little reason to remove it.
A dovetail bracket is aimed more toward a competition or target shooter. In other words, someone who might want to easily remove or switch out their bow sight.
Other considerations for mounting brackets? Make sure it works for your dominant hand. If you’re a lefty, be sure the bracket can be mounted for both right- and left-handers.
Some are only meant for righties. Additionally, take note of the material that the bracket is made of. If it’s made of plastic, it will be more fragile than one that’s made from aluminum.
Additional features will only increase the price. These can be a sight light, laser-driven rangefinders or tool-less adjustments. These add-ons are attractive and might be able to help with your aim and accuracy, but they also may not be necessary, especially for a beginner.
The more you move up in the sport, the more you will learn and can start to consider more upgraded features.
Plastic vs Aluminum
Aluminum sights are more durable than plastic but also more expensive. If you’re rough with your gear or worry you might accidentally drop it, spring for the aluminum bow sight. Plastic is much easier to break and no one wants a broken sight when they’re 5 miles away from civilization.
Furthermore, some are made from carbon fiber and are incredibly light. However, these are often much more expensive than their counterparts and can often shatter easily.
If you choose fiber optic pins, make sure they are thin and flexible. The larger in diameter the fiber-optic pin, the more prone it is to breakage. Plus, if it’s a cheap fiber optic material, it won’t be vivid enough to see in total daylight. Aim for a higher-end fiber-optic material if at all possible.
Certain sights have a light you can add that shines onto the fiber-optic pins so you can see in darkness. However, you aren’t always allowed to use them. Sometimes it depends on the season and other times it depends on local laws. Check before adding a sight light to your bow.
A warranty is super important. When a company hands out a warranty, it means they know their product is solid. With so many options on the market, make sure you’re sticking with one that offers a protection plan.
13 Best Bow Sights of 2020
1. Apex Gear Covert Pro – Best Reticle Bow Sight
When the first reticle sights came on the market, they were a huge gimmick and a lot of people bought into it. That left a bad taste in the mouth of many hunters. Today’s reticle sights are a more viable option and, in many cases, will work better for most people than a traditional pin sight.
The Apex Gear is what a reticle sight should be with an illuminated dot, easy one-handed adjustment, and even a micro-adjustable windage knob. Its sturdy enough to take the constant shock of a bow release and will get you dead on at any reasonable range you would care to shoot.
This is a personal favorite and one I can highly recommend if you are looking for an upgrade. Hunting is an expensive sport and we have to make each dollar count. Spend a few dollars on this, and it will improve your shooting. You will still have to do your part but this makes your part a whole lot easier.
- Easy to see and read
- Easy to set up and sight in
- Field adjustments are quick and accurate
- Adjustable brightness
- Fairly costly
- May be awkward for long time pin sight shooters
2. HHA Optimizer Lite – Best Vertical Pin Bow Sight
If you are interested in pin sights but want a more full-featured sight like the Apex, consider a vertical pin sight. You get the more rigid pin rather than a plastic reticle but retain the ability to easily adjust to varying ranges. Your sight stays clear of clutter and you are still on target.
The HHA has a single illuminated pin that remains visible even in low light conditions. It is easily adjustable with one had to a variety of ranges and for windage on those harsh days or longer shots. HHA has also taken a lot of the work out of sighting in with their system. You can be up and on target in just a few arrows.
I would hazard to say that the Optimizer is probably on more professional hunters bows than any other sight out there right now. If it isn’t, it’s because they are sponsored by someone else. If you want a single pin sight or aren’t sure what sight you would prefer, give this one a few shots and it will make your mind up for you.
- Setup and sight in is very simple
- Quick, tool-less adjustment
- Very durable
- Somewhat heavy
3. Field Logic IQ Micro – Best Multi-Pin Bow Sight
If you are a traditionalist and want your true pin sights, there is nothing wrong with that. You just need to get really good pin sights! No adjustment needed, just pick a pin and shoot. Tens of thousands of deer have been taken with the old school sights, they are proven in the field, and today’s versions are much improved over those old brass pins.
Field Logic has made some awesome sights, especially for a relative newcomer on the market. Their IQ series sets a high standard for what a pin sight can be. Their illuminated sight pins are easy to adjust, even in the field and their proprietary retina-lock technology will help you identify and correct any deficiencies on your part.
Field Logic has enough faith in this product to guarantee you a better group or your money back. That takes a lot of faith on their part. But for a pin style sight, they make perhaps the best on the market and continue to innovate every year.
- Easy and accurate setup
- Tool-free adjustment
- Bright and easy to see
- Can help you correct shooting issues
- Money back guarantee
- Good value for the money
- Setup is more complicated
4. TRUGLO Range-Rover Pro 2 Dot – Best Budget Reticle Sight
I think at this point everyone has heard of TRUGLO. They have made hi-viz pistol and rifle sights for decades. Their foray into the world of archery sights has been just as successful. With a trusted name, comes a trusted product and you can put your faith in the quality of a TRUGLO sight.
This is a sight with a lot of adjustability to get you right where you want to be. The trouble with all that fine tuning is that it gets complex very fast. Getting it mounted, setup, and sighted in takes some time but when you do, you will find it’s a dead-on sight that will stay that way with easy adjustment from then on.
The Range-Rover can do everything the Apex above can do with one-handed adjustment for elevation and windage but the setup time knocks it out as my preferred sight. If you hunt the same bow year after year, you won’t have a problem. You will have a sight for life!
- Durable beyond belief
- Proven quality and accuracy
- Tool-free setup
- Expensive for no additional features
- Complicated and heavy
5. Trophy Ridge Pursuit – Best Budget Vertical Pin Sight
For those with a little less money to spend and still looking for a quality sight, check out Trophy Ridge. They have a respected following in the bowhunting community for quality, simple sights that do the job and last a lifetime. If you dipped a little too far in your hunting budget this year, this is the sight for you.
While the Pursuit doesn’t offer all of the bells and whistles of the higher-end Field Logic, it does offer a single, adjustable, hi-viz vertical pin. The initial setup and adjustment may not be quite as easy as the field logic but once you have it on target, making the macro adjustments to get you on target is as simple as any sight.
This may fall a little lower on our list but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad sight. Far from. This is a great sight for the money with very few actual failings. It will get you a good shot if you take the time to set it up and you follow your basic fundamentals.
- Easy to set up and adjust
- Simple sight with no extra frills
- Still quite expensive
- Can be tough to read in the lowest light
6. Trophy Ridge Volt 5 Pin – Best Budget Multi-Pin Sight
As I said, Trophy Ridge makes great sights so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see multiple options from them on this list. They aren’t my personal favorite but they get the job done and don’t cost much to do it. If you are a fan of pin sights and want to keep it in your price range, this is a solid choice.
Much like the Pursuit above, this is not the easiest sight to set up when you first put it on your bow. It takes some time to get everything dialed in. If you are willing to take that time, their two-tone fiber-optic sights will shoot true even in the lowest light conditions.
As I said, don’t let the placement of this product on our list lead you to believe that it’s an inferior product. This is a great bow sight. It’s just not as adjustable or easy to set up as the optimizer. It also costs a good deal less. It’s all about finding the balance between what you want and what you are willing to spend to get it.
- Affordable and great quality
- Easy to set up
- Reversible for left or right hand
- Very easy to learn to shoot a pin sight
- Needs tools for adjustment
- No quick adjust features
- Could be more durable
7. Trophy Ridge Drive Slider – Best Bang for Your Buck
If you are looking for a vertical pin sight but you need quality on the cheap, take a look at our third option from Trophy Ridge. This will be the last but that still doesn’t make it a bad sight. It is a sight on a budget so you are giving up a little but not enough to risk missing a shot.
The Drive Slider is a bare bones sight in a market where everything that has to do with hunting has more features than a new car. Setup isn’t the easiest task but once you are, you will have no problems.
If there were a downside to this product it would be the usable lifetime. Where the higher end sights use quality bushings and bearings, those are left out on this Trophy Ridge. It may last for a few seasons but if you want long-term durability, you are going to need to spend a little more money.
- Accurate and reasonable quality sight
- Mostly tool-free adjustment
- Lacks long-term durability
- Some sight glare in lower light conditions
- Major adjustments need tools
Apex Gear Covert Bow Sight is designed to make targeting easy and quick. It provides accurate readings on targets that are at long distances.
The frame of the sight is constructed with high-grade aluminum that makes it durable. It can be used for a lot of high impact situations without sustaining damage.
This product is optimized for use in low lighting conditions as the color of the pin can be changed to red, yellow or green. The shooter’s ring also has a glow in the dark feature.
Aperture housing is outfitted with horizontal and vertical tilt adjustments. The windage and elevation can be easily adjusted.
- Provides accurate sighting
- Can be used in low light conditions
- Made with durable material
- Adjustment of some features like windage and yardage might be difficult
Southland Archery Supply is a 5-pin sight that is made for the archer that wants more accurate aiming. It can be used for long distances without blocking your target.
It is a fiber optics product that can be used with both left and right hand. It has a level with two vertical bars and markings for the elevation and windage.
The pin is made of high-grade brass material and has a diameter of 0.029 inches. It can also change into different colors like yellow, green and red.
It comes with a detachable LED light for added illumination. All the features on this product are easy to adjust.
- Can be easily fitted on any bow
- Made of a strong material
- Bery easy to adjust
- LED light might malfunction when fixed to the sight
Rocky Mountain Sight is made to stand the test of time. It is a 5-pin mount sight that gives you the ability to place it on different locations on the bow.
It is made of high-quality aluminum which is long-lasting. Once mounted, you do not have to worry about the sight coming off or shifting out of place.
It has five fully captured 0.019 pins that allow for accurate sightings at longer distances. It has a micro-adjust for the windage and elevation and doesn’t require the use of tools.
This product can be adjusted to the second and third axis. It also has an in-built light adapter for using the sight during the night.
- Durable and sturdy
- Windage and elevation can be adjusted without the use of tools
- Built-in light adapter
- Bright lights might affect the visibility
Burris Optics Bow is a range-finding sight that calculates and provides the exact distance to the target. It eliminates guessing by giving you the exact aiming point for any distance or angle.
This product removes every rise of aiming with the wrong pin as it presents the most perfect aiming dot for the distance of your target and arrow. It can be adjusted for the right-handed and left-handed mount.
The sight is made of only aluminum and does not feature any glass which could affect your viewing of the target. It has a built-in inclinometer that notes the side on which it is mounted and adjusts its features, like the LED readout, accordingly.
With a fixed 20 yard pin and vertical bar, the pin will always be in the right position. This sight learns your arrows trajectory and automatically calibrates to your bow.
- Ensures perfect aim by automatically calculating the distance of every target
- Optimized for mounting on both the left and right side
- Can be customized with different arrows and bows
- Laser feature might not be easy to adjust
Dead Ringer Bow Sight is a tack driver with a 5-pin feature. It is outfitted with a dovetail mounting bracket that can accommodate all shooting styles.
It has five 0.029 pins that provide a good accuracy at all times. The top pins have the ability to glow in the darkness, thereby providing enough light for use during the night.
It is a dead ringer micro-adjustable sight with a rheostat and a sight light. The windage and elevation can be adjusted without tools.
The aperture provides good sight alignment during the day and at night with its glowing feature. It can be used on the left and right side.
- Suitable for all kinds of shooting styles
- Top pins and aperture glow in the dark
- Can be easily adjusted
- Intensity of the light is not adjustable and it might be too bright
CBE TL3 Bow Sight has a compact and lightweight design. It is made for left-handed use with ingenious features that set it apart and make it powerful.
It is outfitted with a dovetail elevation gang adjustment and visual laser engraved markings. A synthetic multi-pin aperture is made to remain sturdy.
Smart-mount re-engineered mounting holes allow for multiple positioning of the bow. It has a quick-slide windage unit with laser engraved markings.
It provides bright pins through its fiber management system, which also provides protection for the sight. It comes with sight tapes and has an indicator window.
- Multi-positioning mounting holes
- Compact and lightweight design
- Bright pins for better aims
- Doesn’t have the micro-adjustment feature
Single Pin vs Multi-Pin Bow Sights
No matter what kind of bow you put the sight on, even on a bow for fish hunting, the sight will likely have the same basic components — either a single pin or multiple pins.
A toll with a single pin is a moveable sight. It allows for quick adjustments by hand and is often used for target practice or archery. You can sight in your bow through fast trial and error.
If your arrows are going to the top and left of the bullseye, you can make slight adjustments that put your arrow dead in the center. What are some other benefits of a single pin sight? First, you’ll get a clearer field of vision.
You only have one pin blocking your target, so it’s easier to see where you’re trying to shoot. Additionally, you can’t accidentally pick the wrong pin. A single pin is easy to spot since it’s the only one there, so you can’t easily get thrown off.
With multiple pins, you might forget which pin you’re trying to aim for and select the wrong one, which throws off your accuracy. However, a multi-pin sight is great for many purposes. They generally come equipped with between 3 and 5 pins, but some have 7 and each represents different yardage.
Keep in mind, however, that the learning curve is steep when you’re first getting started. A multi-pin sight is fixed to your bow, so you generally need tools to make any adjustments to your aim (although, typically all it takes is an Allen key to get the job done).
This slows down the process at the beginning of the day, but many hunters use a multi-pin sight for a reason.
If you’re aiming for a moving object — such as a deer — multiple pins are extremely useful. Say you’re aiming for a deer at 20 yards away and everything is squared up for that distance, but then the deer decides to move to 40 yards away. Instead of rustling with your bow to adjust it, you can simply aim for the next pin.
You can use a bow in many different hunting environments. However, the varied qualities of each landscape might call for a different bow sight. Consider the area you typically hunt in before purchasing this tool.
In the forest, trees and brush grow thick, so you will likely be taking closer shots. Typically, you won’t shoot further than 25 yards. Because of this small range of distances, you would probably be fine using a fixed sight. There’s less of a chance you would need to make many quick adjustments for a target a long way away.
Look into a pendulum bow sight if you’re hunting in a forest from a tree stand. The swinging mechanism on the pin can improve your accuracy when aiming from extreme angles.
Plains and Fields
If you’re shooting in a plains or field habitat where you can see for miles without obstruction, you might want to look into an adjustable bow sight. Once your shooting gets into the 40- to 60-yard range, a moveable sight is helpful.
These environments give you the time and distance to make adjustments as needed. First of all, though, you need to have the skill and accuracy to hit the target at those distances. Practice makes perfect.
Are you the type of hunter that explores new territories and mixes things up? If you need a bow sight for multiple uses — and you have the talent to handle it — you could incorporate what’s known as a hybrid set-up.
This system includes one fixed pin sight installed for a closer distance of around 25 yards and a second one next to it with an adjustable distance of 40 to 60 yards.
Buyer beware: This set-up takes a lot of skill and practice to manage, so before you run out and spend all your money on multiple sights, make sure you have the hours under your belt. Otherwise, you may be wasting your dollars.
Best Brands of Bow Sights
There are so many brands out there, how do you know where to begin your search? We have rounded up the most respected and highest quality brands that you can trust.
These are all top-of-the-line companies that are worth looking into:
Apex Gear claims it has the “brightest aiming points in the industry.” The company is located in Texas and sells fixed-pin and single pin sights, as well as accessories like replacement yardage tape for its Covert bow sight.
The company’s sights are made from aluminum rather than plastic, which makes their products more sturdy than some.
Burris is newer to the market, but they offer a top-notch rangefinding sight. The sight has a laser and can calculate the distance of your target for you.
The company, run out of Colorado, has expertise in firearm accessories and applies this knowledge to their bow sight. However, the extra features make it expensive and not right for a novice.
Garmin is an internationally known company that specializes in high-tech automotive and fitness devices, such as their infamous GPS running watches. They don’t disappoint with their bow sight, either.
If you’re in the market for a fancy — albeit pricey — bow sight with extra built-in technology, you have come to the right people.
HHA Sports is an American brand that is a veteran in producing bows and complementary accessories. The brand won the Gold for Reader’s Choice in Bowhunting World in 2018 and they have over 30 years of experience in the industry.
If you’re looking for different kinds of recurve bows, they might not be able to help you, but they have tons of tried and tested equipment to take on your next shooting adventure.
Living as one of the many brands under the larger FeraDyne Outdoors company, IQ Bowsights is top-of-the-line. They offer everything from crossbows to targets to arrows. Most notable among its bow sights is its Retina Lock Alignment Technology.
A Retina Lock is basically a light you can adjust to ensure the black dot is in the middle each time you pull back your string, which decreases the chances that you will shift your weight or change your posture. If you’re into that type of thing, an IQ Bowsight is a good choice.
Spot Hogg markets itself as the “world’s toughest archery products” and many people agree with this statement. The company is based in Oregon and has been highly trusted by hunters and archers around the world since the late 1980s.
They sell single-pin and multi-pin sights, as well as premium arrow rest options and countless other tools you might need for the hunt.
Trophy Ridge offers reliable products for all skill levels. The company is located in Indiana and sells bow sights in a massive variety of pin numbers, sizes and price ranges. Whether you’re looking for something basic for a newbie or something complex for a pro, Trophy Ridge will have something for you.
This company is most well-known for its fiber-optic technology, operating by the phrase “see it better, shoot it better.” Truglo offers a wide array of bow sights, from single pin to fixed systems. Some are even carbon fiber, for those shooters looking for an ultralight tool.
The company is also located in Texas and is the sister brand of Apex Gear. If you’re looking for a well-lit item, look no further.
How to Adjust Your Bow Sight
Adjusting your bow sight seems harder than it is. However, taking steps like having a good deer feeder to attract kills is pointless if your bow sight isn’t adjusted correctly. You won’t be able to hit the deer you worked so hard to lure in.
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll have a perfectly positioned sight in no time:
Step 1 – Adjusting a sight
First, adjustment depends on what type of sight you have. Installing a fixed tool is less complicated than adjusting a single pin sight on demand. For a fixed system, you’ll want to set up each pin before leaving for a hunt because otherwise you’ll be caught making adjustments on the field.
Step 2 – Change position in a fixed-pin sight
Come up with an easy-to-remember distance for each pin. The top pin will be the closest yardage and the bottom will be for the furthest distance. Most people choose distances 5 or 10 yards apart.
Start with the shortest distance, such as 20 yards and use a rangefinder — if you have one — to calculate where it lands. Leave your target where you are and walk the 20 yards where the rangefinder specifies.
If you don’t have a rangefinder, practice taking steps in specific distances and you’ll get better at eyeballing it the more you do it.
Step 3 – Adjust the top pin
You can do this by unscrewing it and then tightening it. This fixes the pin in place. Sometimes, you’ll have to use an Allen wrench, but your sight may have knobs you can adjust by hand.
Step 4 – Take a few trial shots
Take a couple of trial shots to make sure the pin is in the right place (see sighting in a bow below). Go ahead and do the same for the rest of your pins at regular intervals. Once you sight in each of the pins, you should be all set.
Keep in mind, you can aim between pins for distances that aren’t at the regular intervals.
With a single pin system, follow the same guidelines, except you’re only setting it up for one distance. This means you’ll have to make frequent adjustments for changing targets.
How to Sight in a Bow
Locking in distances on your pins is simple enough. To pinpoint the bow sight placement, you’ll first need a peep sight and front sight installed, along with an Allen wrench to use for adjustments.
To zero in each of your pins, first take some practice shots using the top-most pin, which is the shortest distance. Then look at the direction of your grouping of arrows. You’ll need to move your sight in the direction of your misses.
Are your arrows clustered in the top right corner of the target? To fix this issue, you’ll move the sight in tiny increments up and to the right. Keep moving them until you’re shooting where you want.
Remember this: Follow your misses. If you’re hitting high, move the sight up. If your arrows go low, move the sight down.
Here’s a breakdown of the steps to sight in a bow:
Step 1 – Find the adjustment screws
Find the horizontal and vertical adjustment screws and determine the direction you need to move the sight. Loosen the horizontal screw for the left or right adjustment and the vertical screw for up or down adjustment.
Step 2 – Move sight in small increments
Move sight in small increments in the direction the arrows have been going. Make tiny adjustments until your arrows hit the bullseye. After following this tried-and-true system, you’re sure to increase precision and aim your arrows exactly where you want them to go.
How to Hold and Release a Bow
When you’re learning how to hold and release a bow, there are several tricks you can learn and some of them are surprising.
Step 1 – Grip your bow at the right angle
When you hold onto the bow, make sure your grip is at about a 45-degree angle from the bow. And don’t squeeze it — maintain a soft hold.
Step 2 – Stand comfortably
Rather than bending your knees, as some people suggest, stand normally. It’s hard to be consistent when you bend your knees. If you’re constantly changing up your stance, your aim will get thrown off. The most important thing is consistency.
Step 3 – Open your stance slightly
Your shoulder shouldn’t get in the way of the string. Rather than standing perpendicular to the target, move your shoulders out a bit so you are facing the target more. Wear an arm guard if you are new to avoid getting hit by the string, which can be painful.
Step 4 – Grab an arrow so you don’t dry fire
Nock the bow with the odd-colored fletch facing up, sitting in the arrow rest. Never pull back your bow without an arrow nocked. Nock the arrow even if you don’t intend to shoot.
If you dry fire the bow — or pull the string back without an arrow in place — you can easily injure the bow or hurt yourself. In fact, a dry fire sounds like a lightning strike because all the energy that is normally released into the arrow goes back into the parts of the bow itself.
Firing dry can cause cracks in the bow, the string to snap or other issues that will force you to take your bow to the shop to get fixed.
Step 5 – Draw the bow back to an anchor point with multiple touchpoints
This helps with consistency. Your nose should touch the tip of the string. Another touchpoint for you might be what’s called a kisser button, which is designed to come to your lips when you draw the bow.
You can also use a small knock button. After you draw, place your hand behind your jaw, straight back. This way, you have three touch points each time you draw.
If your bow has a trigger mechanism, put your finger behind the trigger while drawing. Don’t leave your finger on the trigger as you’re drawing it back because you can accidentally fire. Instead, once you’re ready to shoot, bring your finger around and press the fire button.
These tips should get you ready to shoot like a pro. Then, as soon as you find the right hunting broadhead for your arrows, you’re all set for the great outdoors.
Quick Tips on Handling the Bow
Shooting a bow is one of the most challenging outdoor activities to learn. It’s a technical skill that requires patience and practice and can seem intimidating to newbies. Fortunately, there are many tricks to handling a bow.
First, grip the bow at a 45-degree angle rather than vertically along the grip. Don’t hold it in a death grip, either. Relax your fingers and use the meat of your palm to hold the bow in place.
Next, wear a sling around your wrist that’s attached to the bow so it doesn’t fall out of your hands. The force of the shot can easily knock the bow out of your grip and a wrist sling stops it from hitting the ground. If you drop your bow, you can accidentally damage it, so best to just wear the sling.
Also, make sure your bow is correctly tuned. If your bow isn’t tuned right, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have in aiming. Your shot will be off. Usually, you have to tune your bow before the first use of the season. To tune it, check the strings and cables and make sure the bow isn’t set too long for you.
Make sure all the equipment is back to the center, such as the arrow rest. Don’t forget to check that the level is plumb against the sight. Your level can move in some sights, which throw off its purpose — to keep the bow squared with the ground.
As a warning, don’t shoot with your hand open. Instead, close your fingers. It’s dangerous to shoot with your hand open because you can cut yourself. Furthermore, shooting with an open hand can throw off your shot since you can’t stabilize the bow as easily.
Does Spending More Mean Better Quality
Get the best you can afford. You’ll want to look for a crossbow for a serious archer, but the rest of your equipment can be more basic. Especially the bow sight. It doesn’t need to be made of carbon fiber — plastic or aluminum is perfectly fine if you’re just starting out.
If you can afford better, get higher quality. However, don’t empty your bank account by purchasing the tool with all the perks. If you’re new to shooting, having more accessories will likely only confuse you.
You probably don’t need that Retina Lock Technology the first few times you go out to the archery range. If a lightweight bow sight is necessary for you, you also don’t need to spring for carbon fiber.
There are many lightweight sights made out of other materials. If you’re having a hard time estimating distances, you don’t need to buy an $800 bow sight equipped with a laser that can automatically detect ranges. Instead, you can find a much less expensive rangefinder for under $100.
There are many ways to balance quality with affordability. Most importantly, you don’t have to spend all your money to get solid products.
Do’s and Don’ts With Bow Sights
A bow sight isn’t the only piece of gear you’ll need to get a perfect shot on an ideal target. For example, a spotting scope comes in handy, as well as many other pieces of equipment. A bow sight is there to make your life — and your aiming — easier and more straightforward.
If you’re looking to get the most of it, we rounded up the most important do’s and don’ts of working with a bow sight.
- Don’t go out without your bow sight ready. Make sure your tool is installed before going out to the archery range or your nearby hunting grounds. It’s a pain to install on-site, so do yourself a favor and make sure that’s taken care of beforehand.
- Do practice with your bow sight. Practicing is the only way you’ll understand the intricacies of the type of sight you own and how it can best serve you. They can seem complicated at first, especially the ones that you have to adjust each time you want a different target, but over time, using this awesome piece of gear will become second nature to you.
- Don’t change your stance. Even though you have a bow sight installed, you won’t automatically shoot perfectly every time. Pay attention to your posture and your aiming stance. Make sure you pull back the line and stand the same each time. Otherwise, your arrow might end up in a different place than you expected.
- Do decide which type of sight is best for you. Do your research. Will a multi-pin, fixed bow sight work the best for you? Or will you be in situations where an adjustable single pin will be useful? The ideal type for you depends on where you shoot, what you’re shooting at, how much weight you can carry and how much money you have to spend.
- Don’t pick a more complicated sight than you need. Instead of leaping for the most expensive and complex option, stick with a simple one until you learn how they work. You don’t need micro-adjustments or a laser-equipped rangefinder when you’re learning. A simple single or multi-pin sight will get you where you want to go.
- Do zero in your bow sight. If you can, sight in your bow before going into the field. Zeroing in on the distances takes time and is more difficult to do out in the open or under pressure. You don’t want to miss that perfect buck because you were messing around with your pins.
Get ready to aim straight
If you’re looking to improve your accuracy and hit the target more often, a bow sight is a fastest and easiest addition to your bow to get there. The simplest versions are affordable and easy to install. With a little practice, you’ll understand how to use it to your advantage.
Shopping for this tool is a simple process. There are many options available online as well as in hunting and outdoor stores. Many also come with warranties that protect the sight if you damage it. After a little searching around, you’re sure to find the perfect option for your shooting needs.
Many shooters swear by bow sights. Don’t wait years until you’re able to intuitively judge a target’s distance. A bow sight can get you there quickly, efficiently and cheaply. Head to your local gear store today to pick out the right one for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bow Sights
Which bow sights will fit my bow?
This is probably the single most popular question. Any sight should fit your bow. The industry is pretty standard these days.
What do I need to adjust my bow sights?
Most modern sights have some form of tool-less adjustment to make things easy but you will still find some that need an Allen wrench. That should be the only tool you will need. Other than that, time and a movable target will get you where you need to be.
My bow still shoots left (or right) and I can’t get it dead on?
This may be an issue with fundamentals but could also be caused by bow torque. Sometimes powerful bows will twist and is made worse if you are shooting from a stand, on an incline or using a glove. Most modern sights have a torque adjustment.
With a multi-pin sight, what ranges should I use?
The standard is 20, 30 and 40 yards. This is my preferred setup and has worked for many hunters over the years. If you have more than three pins, keep going up by 10 yards a pin.
Do I have to sight in a reticle or single pin sight at every distance?
No. It would seem that way with so many differently powered bows but most companies have simplified the process. Sight in at a low range and a high range and you should be good. The sights will come with a stick-on range scale to suit your needs.
I have no archery experience, will a bow sight make me accurate?
No. Fundamentals with a bow make you accurate. You have to invest the time to be able to shoot well. Bow sights will make you consistent and that is more important in the end.
I am left-handed, will the sights work for me?
Yes and no. These specific sights are intended for right-handed shooters but almost all of these options come in as a left-hand specific.
Do I need to spend an arm and a leg to get a decent bow sight?
No, you don’t have to empty your bank account to get a tool that will work for you. Many affordable options work well, especially for people new to archery. You can get the basic model and save up over time for a better option.
I haven’t shot a bow before. Will I be able to figure out how to use a bow sight?
Yes, with assistance. It helps to have someone there with you showing the ropes, of course. But once you get the basics down, it should click and you’ll be able to use the bow sight well. Of course, it takes time to learn the fundamentals of posture, aiming and balance, but with enough time, you’ll get it.
Do you recommend a multi-pin or single-pin sight for a new shooter?
Try starting with a fixed, multi-pin sight. This is a bit easier to get your bearings since you don’t have to adjust for each distance, as you do with many of the single-pins.
Can’t I just go out and shoot without a bow sight?
Yes, of course. But take note that this method is a lot more time-consuming in terms of hitting your target. If you’re looking for the rush that comes from hitting the bullseye, a bow sight will get you there faster.
Bowhunting has always been a challenging sport with a steep learning curve. Getting a good set of sights and taking the time to get them dialed in and shooting where you want will at least take pointing the bow in the right direction out of the picture.
You will still need a strong set of fundamentals and good shooting posture to really make them work for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a set of bow sights will suddenly turn your bow into a guaranteed hit machine. It all takes skill and even the best tools will never work if you haven’t got a proper release.
Get a set of sights, get them dialed in and practice! Nothing you can buy will help you more than just shooting your bow, time after time. That is what separates the professionals from the amateurs.
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