- 1 Purpose
- 2 Types of Archery Sights
- 3 Setting Up
- 4 Essential Points
- 5 Sticking with a Sight
- 6 Outdoor Empire Recommendations
When you step on the field chasing wild game armed with a bow and arrow, you’re not only choosing to have an even playing field, but you’re also taking an oath as a hunter.
When you take a game, you have an obligation to make every effort to be as lethal as possible with the tool you’ve chosen. With archery tackle, this is harder than most any other method of hunting.
Using top notch gear is one of the ways to be up to the task, and an archery sight for your bow makes any shot deadlier. Having the right one for the job at hand maximizes the effectiveness of your bow.
When you mount a sight on your bow, it’s not the same as putting a sight on your air rifle or handgun. Adding an optic on your bow helps predict where your shot is going and how the arrow is going to arc on its way to the target.
Consider the distance of your shot, what kind of arrow you’re shooting, and personal preference when choosing a sight because they are made differently to suit the task at hand.
Just like rifle sights, there are problems and solutions with each one. And the trade-offs you choose can make or break the outcome of your hunt.
Types of Archery Sights
There are several kinds of sights in the market for archery hunters. They do the same thing, but each has a function that they perform best at.
Fixed pin sights are the most common in the archery world. There are those that are colored or numbered, fiber optic or white strips on high-end models.
It comes in multi-pin and a single pin for corresponding ranges. In fact, there are old school brass single pin sights for recurve and long bow shooters, and multi-pin sights with 7 or more pins for long range shooting.
Fixed pin sights are perfect for simple shooting and most hunting scenarios because of how versatile they are. They are the easiest to use after they’re set up. These are also the most affordable — the reason they’re included in most compound bow packages.
Hunters who want a dead simple and reliable setup that can be tailored to a particular situation.
- Many options
- Can be as simple or complicated as you want
- One size fits all approach
- Can’t change the pins in the field
Pendulum sights take the angle of the shot into account when you shoot. Gravity pulls it in position so when you view the pin through the peep, you have a reliable shot up to 80 degrees or so; which is practically a deer or hog standing beneath you. They have fewer pins than other sights because of the moving parts.
They are most prevalent with strict tree stand hunters because they help correct the angles that make it difficult to hit the target correctly.
Especially when dealing with high pressured deer who are prone to jump the string at areas like high traffic funnels and food plots, having the extra degree of precision can keep you from gut shooting an animal.
They work wonders for people using tree stands in thick cover but run into a limitation when used at long range. The few pins make it difficult to use them past 35 yards unless you take the time to practice with it.
To bridge the gap between fixed pin and pendulum sights, try adding a lock to hold the pendulum in place, but many of these are a compromise that neither works well in the end.
Tree stand hunters who want to place their shots accurately despite extreme angles.
- Very accurate with angles
- Few pins
- More delicate than other options
- Prone to jamming
- Bad at level ground or distance shooting
Adjustable Single Pin
These sights are my personal favorite as they offer the most usability because of how well they can be tailored to the situation. They have the adaptability and simplicity of a fixed sight but come with a gauge to suit the elevation to shoot at distance.
This means with a single pin, you can adjust your bow to shoot from 0 up to 75 yards or further depending on your setup and your skill level.
They are excellent for people hunting out west or in areas where they might be shooting at a farther range and would prefer to have a dead-simple setup.
The secret is to get a high-quality sight that you can make silent and small adjustments with. Because if it makes a sound before you shoot, you might lose your game. Just as much if you can’t tailor in the range estimate for the target, you’re out of luck.
Tailoring your sight for a specific distance in every shot for the best field accuracy.
- Very accurate
- Good for long ranges
- Can be clogged with sand and grit
- Complicated under pressure
Adjustable Multiple Pin
Within the last few years, it seems that companies have combined the adjustable single pin sights with the multiple fixed sights. This is something that is perfect for both worlds although it is a little confusing to explain in writing.
It has multiple pins that are set to specific yardages. Once you have them all set:
- Mark where your home position is on the housing.
- Using the dial, you are able to lower your sight to a new position and mark it for further yardages.
For example, it could have 6 pins set for 20, 30, 40 etc. then you take your 70-yard pin. When the housing is lowered, you can mark at what point it shoots at 80, 90 yards, etc. With your home position marked, you can return it back to the original position with ease and consistency.
These sights come with pre-made marker stickers that you can use if you know the speed of your bow.
Just like any aftermarket sight, you should anticipate in paying a price for a good setup.
They seem intimidating or complicated for many, but they are really simple once you are familiarized with them. Others find it pointless and unethical to shoot past a certain yardage and therefore would not shoot past even 50 yards. So this comes down to preference.
If you don’t shoot your bow during the off season, your string can lose its pop, and your sight tape will be a touch off. This can be fixed by sighting in your bow to a different tape, tuning your bow, or purchasing a new string and cables.
Adapting your sight to shoot at a particular distance for the best field accuracy.
- Very accurate
- Ideal for long ranges
- May be complicated to use at first
Setting up your sight can go a long way to make it work for you. Setting up each kind and model has different steps but overall, keep it simple!
The biggest mistake of many hunters is setting their pins or adjustments to odd ranges like 17, 23, 28 and 32 yards because that’s what your buddy told you to do. Thus shooting the wrong pin when it counts because you forgot what the range corresponds to which colored pin.
One of the greatest upgrades that have been added to many sights is the tool-less option. You can use two dials to move the entire housing up and down or left and right.
This is useful since sights can be very cumbersome. The pins can still be moved individually with hex keys, but at least much of the hassle is taken out of this added feature.
A few notes on judging the design and quality of the scope you intend to buy.
Plastic vs. Aluminum
The housing of your sight is likely to be either aluminum or plastic. There are a few, but they are scarce, that are made of carbon fiber yet they are cost prohibitive. The aluminum models are more durable especially when slammed against a tree trunk or dropped but are also more expensive and heavier.
The diameter of the fiber optic can tell you a lot about the sight’s construction and quality. Look for those that are small, crisp and bright.
In bright sunlight, your pins get washed out if they’re the cheaper variety. Large fibers are hard to aim precisely and prone to breaking so look for small, bright, and flexible ones.
Some sights have electronics incorporated to shine a small light on the fiber optic cables that the pins are made of so you can see it in total darkness. If you want to use one like this, check your local regulations first because they’re not always legal and can be seasonally allowed.
Don’t buy a sight without a warranty. If the company isn’t willing to stand by their product, then neither should you. The market is flooded with options and buying online gives you access to the entire marketplace with just a click or an occasional phone call.
Sticking with a Sight
One of the hardest parts of finding a new sight for your bow is using it. Switching to a new way of shooting, a new feeling of the bow on the hand, a new way to see your target, it’s all different. Especially when some big buck steps into view, you’ll feel weird under pressure if you’re used to an old sight.
If you switch from a single pin or fixed sight to a pendulum or target sight, there’s going to be a learning curve. Practice hard and often with your new equipment to get used to it so that in the field it’ll be the new muscle memory.
If you’re having doubts, stick with your new sight for several months at least so that you’d know what the problem is in the future.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
Best Single Pin For Hunting
Viper Archery Products Quicklock Series
The single pin fixed sight needs to be brought up because it’s arguably the most practical for new hunters and the gold standard for ruggedness and simplicity. They work by having a what once considered a fast bow, around 300 FPS, and only shooting out to a max of 30 yards.
The single pin will put you slightly high closer than 10 yards and slightly low at 35 yards, but overall your arrow will hit deer-sized vitals at that range if you do your part.
If you’re a fan of simple solutions for tough problems, this is your sight. It is a high quality all aluminum optic from Viper that has one bright yellow pin and a bubble level. The opening is great because it’s small and forces you to focus on what you’re aiming at.
These sorts of sights are straightforward and affordable. If you’re interested, take one out for hog hunting in thick bush, and you’ll instantly understand why they’re becoming a fan-favorite very quickly.
When you chose to add a new sight to your bow, you’re making one of the most useful upgrades for your bow from a usability standpoint.
While archery sights are somewhat like the one on a rifle they do more in the way of predicting shots than aiming your bow, but make no mistake they make a huge difference, and you shouldn’t hunt without one. So make a choice, get on the field, and use it!
Best Adjustable Single Pin for the Money
Trophy Ridge Pursuit
As technology keeps progressing, so do the toys we enjoy using. But along with that progress, it seems that prices are rising with it. The Trophy Ridge Pursuit Vertical Pin Sight has taken modern technology and placed it in a product, all the while trying to keep the price reasonably low.
“You get what you pay” for is a common phrase in the hunting world, and of course it is only natural to want only the best. But there are times when affordability or even life doesn’t allow us to go big, and we just have to go home, unless we are willing to find the next best thing.
The Trophy Ridge Pursuit is the next best thing. It is a great single pin sight that has a high-performance vertical pin that gives the user precise adjustments. It has Delrin bushings that provide you a smooth, quiet movement whenever the sight is fixed.
It is excellent for beginners, for anyone who just enjoys shooting their bow, or for someone who wants the technology of an adjustable accurately shooting sight.
The fact that it is an adjustable sight that allows the user to shoot at any yardage that their bow can handle, it does not come with any sight tape. Meaning, the user has to make their own or draw on the housing itself.
Although this isn’t a deal breaker, it sure is convenient to have a pre-made sight tape on it to skip the writing or guess work.
VXL Fixed Plate Microtune
If you need a value packed bow sight for your next hunting season, this is a great option.
This is a good way to check a high-quality sight that is easy to setup. It is made from CNC machined aluminum and polymer with fiber optic cable illuminating the pins.
In their archery world, this is an excellent example of a product that stands out for quality while having the same features you’d expect at a price that is palatable.
The .019 diameter fibers are bright but don’t come with any illumination. The sight is designed around a set of fine adjustment knobs that make dialing in the sight for your arrow setup much easier than other scopes.
The old way of fumbling with the tool isn’t the way Viper designed their products. It is adjustable in three axes and will hold a zero all season.
The downside? There is no shielding for the fiber optic cables. They’re very long and exposed as to allow you to see them clearly, but they’re also open to being targeted by weather and damage. Protect them at all costs!
For a dead simple fixed plate archery sight, it has five pins and is ready for action. It’s perfect for a youth hunter or a simple upgrade to a package.
Best Pendulum or Tree Stand
TRUGLO Pendulum Adjustable Bracket 1-Pin Sight
If you want a high quality, fully featured single pin pendulum sight, this is your bet. Many sights in the pendulum lineup are either cost prohibitive or skimp on features to deliver a product you can easily afford but can’t easily use.
This is an offering from TRUGLO that is on their high-end lineup that is much cheaper than other options. It’s still a TRUGLO so there are some construction issues but for what you pay, you won’t get a higher quality pendulum sight than this one.
One of its great features is the shielded fiber optic and electronic light that is on the body.
The shielding helps a lot with striking a balance between protecting the fibers and gathering light. The single pin can be illuminated with the included violet light that can be removed for hunting in areas that prohibit electronics during hunting season.
The pendulum is calibrated to provide accurate shooting out to 35 yards and is resistant to getting clogged and binding up.
Overall this is a solid pendulum sight for not a lot of money. It doesn’t skimp on features and includes a bubble level and pre-printed range strip for that model rounding out a nice sight that is ready for a beginner or advanced hunter upgrading their package they bought when they first started out.
Best Fixed and Multi-Pin Combination
Trophy Ridge React Trio Bow Sight
If you want the increased accuracy and the tailed sight picture for every shot, then you need an adjustable sight like the Trophy Ridge React Trio. It is a high-end adjustable pin bow sight that fits right into a high-performance compound bow setup.
Its fiber optics measure .019 inches diameter and super bright. You have a yellow vertical post colored for 20 yards, a green and a red pin on the horizontal axis. This makes for a good sight picture albeit a tad cluttered.
It uses mathematical calculations and an elevation system controlled by knobs to get elevations nailed down up to 120 yards. It runs on a tool micro adjustment system that is fast enough to dial it in and out but needs to be set when you get to your stand or blind.
It is trying very hard to do a whole lot of aiming, and the biggest concession you have to make is the sight picture and the weight.
This is fantastic for a high-end adjustable sight. It is expensive but worth the money and will serve you well if you take care of it.