Which Bow Sight is Right for You?

By Cody Larrimore

Although everyone would love to hit the bulls-eye each shot, it’s highly unlikely and in most cases very rare when purchasing a new sight. The upside is that bowhunting has increased in technology and performance along with most other industries today.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, an advanced hunter, or a shooter who practices every day, getting the correct type of bow sight can greatly increase your chances of taking home your game. It may also greatly reduce your tracking time ensuring that you make a clean kill shot. Sights come in all shapes and sizes to fit each style of hunter, so the question is: which type is right for you?

Beginner and average bow hunters will probably want to start with something that fits your budget at first. The simplest sights tend to be the cheapest, but are often just as effective as more expensive sites. Simple designs will just have your basic necessities, usually a set of multicolored pins that can be arranged for different distances. Each of these pins typically is independent, allowing you to make minute adjustments without affecting your other pins. The yardage you set them for is up to you, and you are limited only in how many pins you can get on your sight. Setting a simple three or four pin sight is usually sufficient for the average hunter. In fact, for those hunting in heavy terrain, one pin may be enough.

The only other real essential on a sight is your mounting bracket. The mounting bracket is simply a plate where you will attach the sight to your bow. These are pretty generic and usually use some kind of screws for attachment. Some allow for the detaching the sights easily while others are made to be more permanent. One thing to keep in mind, while the brackets are typically universal for any bow you will want to make sure you the sight will accommodate right and left handed hunters before you make that purchase.

Now, you’re not too concerned about cost, then there are some more sights out there for you. Certainly these are more sophisticated adding several features to help ensure the perfect shot, but they do come with a bigger price tag. There are several different types of sights, but finding one that works for you will depend on your wallet and, most importantly, on what works for you. Here is a brief description of the sights most commonly used.

Fixed Pin

Fixed pin sights probably enjoy the widest use among bow hunters in one form or another. They are the simplest to setup and when used properly are very accurate. While it is a simple design of multicolored pins locked into place, it will take some work to adjust the pins for proper yardage. As always, practice will help, but make sure you take the time to properly set them.

As for arranging the pins for proper yardage, it really comes down to knowing what you are most comfortable with. Most fixed pins sights allow for a number of pins to be added, which gives you the availability of setting several distances, but the more pins you have the more they are likely to be a hindrance than a benefit. Typically you can get away with 3 or 4 pins. Setting one pin for 20 or 25 yards is a good average and then you may want another pin for that longer shot and one for that closer shot. No matter what you set your pins for though, your game is not going to be mindful of your pin settings so you will have to learn to make adjustments for those in between shots.

Depending on how you set your pins, you are going to have to learn how to compensate for all those in between shots. Using your pins as a guide, you will have to adjust your shot to fall between your pins when lining up your shot for those off yards. If you are using a 15 and a 25 yard pin and your game is 20 yards out, you will want to set your target between these two pins for a good shot. This is where all that practice is going to pay off. Learning how to gauge the distance by shooting frequently will help ensure a good shot. If you are using a few pins or only one, learning how to aim high for the longer shot and low for the closer shot will only come with practice. A range finder is also very beneficial in practice and the field.

Movable Pin Sights

Movable pin sights differ from fixed pins in that typically your movable pin will only have one pin as opposed to the multiples you can have with fixed pins. Movable pins are exactly what they sound like, allowing the user to adjust the pin for distance on any given shot. The distance for the shot is typically marked on a slider scale preset by the archer and you will need to adjust the sight for the proper distance for every shot. The two keys for any given shot will be properly gauging the distance and practice.

The drawback to this kind of sight is that in order to make a clean shot, you need to adjust your pin accordingly. This can cause problems if your game is constantly moving. Having to adjust your sight constantly allows for your prey to spot your movements, and it is not the most ideal thing to do when you are already at full draw. Movable sights are very effective for competition or 3D shooting.

Pendulum Sights

If you primarily hunt from tree stands, you will probably want to look into these types of sights. Pendulum sights are unique in that they offer a new dimension to your standard and movable pin sights. This sight usually has a pin mounted on a pendulum inside the sight bracket. This pendulum gives the tree stand hunter a more accurate shot allowing for the downward angle of the bow. As the bow angle drops, the pendulum swings up outside of the bracket allowing for a more precise shot.

Pendulum sights are not the final authority in sights, however. While there is a great advantage for the tree stand hunter, the pendulum sight must be carefully calibrated for proper accuracy, which requires some knowledge of arrow velocity that the beginning hunter may not know. Other drawbacks concerning this type of sight are a loss of accuracy for distance shots and shots from ground level.

Target Sights

Typically used for competitive archer, these sights are considered the most accurate sights around, but they do not come cheap. You will not likely see these in the field as their size and expense make them less practical for the average hunter. These sights are designed for use with other aiming devices (such as lasers or single pins) that can be attached to this type of sight for extreme accuracy. These types usually have settings to allow for wind and height for greater accuracy on every shot.


The mounting bracket breaks down into two categories: fixed and dovetail. Neither of these brackets really affects your shooting skill, but they lend a certain amount of accessibility to your sights. Most hunters will probably prefer the fixed bracket design as there are few reasons to remove the sight once it has been set up. Dovetail brackets are secured with a fixed plate, but have a slot to slide your sight onto the fixed plate where it can be secured with some kind of screw or nut. Competition shooters may have several reasons to remove their sights or change them out. The dovetail style bracket allows for this versatility without taking excessive time by having to remove the entire bracket.

I will follow this article with another focusing on sight features, such as fiber optics, bubble levels, gang adjustments, adjustments for windage and elevation, zero pin gaps, machined aluminum vs. plastic, etc. As mentioned above, not all sights are for all hunters. Your experience, practice ethic, and hunting terrain all come into play when deciding which sight is correct for you.

Good luck, and shoot straight!

Via: All Outdoor

Category: Hunting, Shooting, archery, hunting, Sights

Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.