Adjustable multi-pin sights allow archers to set each pin to a specific yardage in increments up to 40 yards.
There are few accessories on a bow as important as the sight. After all, your sight is the tool used to take aim at your target. Rarely will you find a high-end rifle without a sophisticated scope, and the same can be said about bows. That's why experienced archers choose new sights very carefully; they know a quality sight is worth its weight in gold when that once-in-a-lifetime shot presents itself. So what, exactly, do most experienced hunters look for in a bow sight?
Durability should be a key factor in the sight selection process. Plastic can be hard and durable, and if you choose a plastic sight, make sure it's extremely tough. However, I prefer sights made up of at least some metal, if not completely metal. Since bow sights protrude out in front of the bow, they often get hung up on limbs, banged against rocks, and regularly take a beating in the woods. I've been on trips out West where my bow and everything on it got beat up during a two-week backpack hunt. If my sight would have been fragile or made out of inferior, inexpensive components, it wouldn't have survived the trip. I know hunters who've had pins and pin guards break in the woods. When that happens, the hunt comes to an abrupt halt. That's why choosing a sight that's super tough is vital.
Number of Pins
Another point to consider is whether to purchase a sight with a single pin or multiple pins. I've used both and prefer a one-pin sight. At the moment of truth, I don't want to worry about using the wrong pin when I aim. Both types, however, have advantages and disadvantages. Using a single-pin sight gives hunters a larger field of view. A single-pin sight is also easier to aim. However, a multiple-pin sight doesn't have to be adjusted at the moment of truth – simply choose the pin you want to use and aim. In some hunting situations, single-pin sights have to be adjusted before archers can shoot; this could cost you a shot opportunity if it takes too long to adjust your sight.
Ease of Adjustability
Hunters should also consider how easy it is to adjust the sight pins. Many sights require a wrench to adjust the pins. In the last few years, however, some companies started producing sights with large knobs so that archers can quickly adjust for windage and elevation. Using a sight that can be adjusted easily makes sighting in your bow easier. It may also make you a more accurate shooter because when the pins are slightly off, tweaking the sight is a piece of cake.
Single-pin designs are popular with archers who hunt dense cover and other places where shots are usually 30 yards or less.
Pin brightness is another important factor to consider. Most companies use fiber-optic pins that are extremely bright. However, not all fiber-optic pins are created equal. Some sights have brighter pins than others. I've left a sight on the store counter because the pins weren't bright enough, even though it had many of the other features I like.
If you're a diehard whitetail hunter, you already know that the best time to be in the woods is the first hour of daylight and the last hour of daylight. If you use a sight with super bright pins, you can hunt until it is almost completely dark outside. If you use a sight with pins that fade in brightness as the sun goes down, you might lose the ability to see your pins at prime time.
Bow hunting from ground blinds continues to gain popularity. While inside a dark popup blind, hunters usually loose the last half hour of hunting time because they can no longer see the pins on their sight. With a super bright fiber-optic sight, you can gain a few extra minutes of hunting time, even if you are hunting from a popup blind.
A few companies have introduced battery-powered sights to the archery world. Two battery-operated sights that have received a lot of attention are HHA Sports Optimizer-Lite Plus with Red Dot Scope and Summit's Hot Dot Bow Sight. The extreme brightness of battery-powered sights make them very useful in those low-light situations, such as hunting from a popup blind. Check your state's regulations before using a battery-operated sight, though, as many states don't allow the use of battery-powered sights for hunting. If your state does allow their use and you know you'll be hunting from a popup blind, a battery-operated sight might be just the ticket for you.
Vertical, Horizontal & Swinging Pins
You also may want to consider whether you want a sight with vertical or horizontal pins. Some companies such as Trophy Ridge make sights with inline vertical pins. The advantage to inline vertical pins is that, if you torque your bow while aiming, you'll quickly see that the pins are out of alignment. Some sights are made with both vertical and horizontal pins. This type of setup offers the best of both worlds in one sight.
Designed specifically for treestand archers, pendulum sights have a pin that "swings," making adjustments for distance automatic.
If treestand hunting is your specialty, pendulum sights are a popular choice because they offer one pin that swings back and forth. It automatically adjusts as you aim at targets that are at 30 or 40 yards. Sight it in at twenty yards and you should be good to go. A word of caution about pendulum sights: they only have one use. Unlike other sights that work on the ground, in the tree, and out to extreme ranges of 50 yards and beyond, a pendulum sight only works from a treestand.
Many of today's sights come with built-in bubble levels. Most archers don't pay attention to the bubble as much as they should. Western bowhunters, however, enjoy hunting with a sight that comes with a bubble because the bubble quickly tells them if the bow is torqued when taking steep-angled shots at elk and other game while shooting downhill. A sight equipped with a bubble level allows hunters to quickly adjust the bow and the shot. Several sights come with a bubble. I prefer a sight that has an extra-large, easy-to-see bubble like the Trophy Taker Top Pin Sight or the Tru-Glo Range Rover sight.
Peeps and Kissers
Consider adding a peep sight to your setup. Peep sights increase accuracy by forcing you to line up with the pin the same way every time you shoot. Since there are several inches between the peep and the pin, if you aren't aiming properly, the pin won't line up accurately within the hole of the peep. A peep sight forces you to anchor and shoot the same way every time you shoot.
Some bowhunters complain that, when using a peep, you can't see the sight pin in low-light conditions. Although that used to be true, many companies now make peep sights with extra-large apertures designed for low-light conditions. The G5 Meta Peep is one example.
Some archers use a kisser button to create an accurate anchor point instead of using a peep sight. Others use a peep sight and kisser button together.
There are several sights on the market that are bright, durable and easy to adjust. When choosing a sight, make a checklist of the features you desire most. Chances are good that while shopping, you'll find multiple sights that fit the bill. The tough part will be choosing from that final group. If possible, shoot with a few different sights from your final group before making your purchase.