Whether you’re a target shooter or a hunter, it’s no secret that archery is a very popular past time activity. However, just like with any hobby, becoming good and an accurate marksman requires both time and practice. With archery, one of the most popular ways of becoming good is sighting with your bow. This is how you’ll maximize your chances at hitting your target. This is how you’ll be able to compensate for outside factors such as gravity or wind.
The problem, however, is that it’s far from just slapping any sight on your bow. Not all sights are made equal. Not all of them will work as you expect them. There are also various types of sights, which makes things even more difficult for the first-time buyer. There’s a fairly big chance that you’ll end up confused and not knowing which one to opt for.
Well, we’re here to help. To begin with, we’ll show you a couple of options. You’ll see ten of the best bow sights on the market today. From budget-oriented ones to premium options, we’ll mention all of them. When you’re done with our list, if you still don’t know what you’re looking for, you will want to read on through our buyers’ guide. There, we will be discussing the various types of bow sights. We’ll also talk about what are some of the key things you’ll want to pay attention to when shopping. When you’re done, you’ll be able to pick the right bow sight for your needs, budget and use case. Let’s begin.
The best bow sights you can get today
All of the bow sights we’ll be taking a look at are excellent. There isn’t a bad choice among them. However, not all of them are ideal for every use case, and they all come at different prices. Once you take a look at them, you may want to go through the buyers’ guide as well. This way you’re sure you’re making an informed buying decision.
1. Trophy Ridge Peak 5 Pin Bow Sight
At a Glance
Starting things off strong, we have the Trophy Ridge Peak 5 Pin bow sight. If you aren’t new to the archery world, you’ll recognize the name. Trophy Ridge has been in the game for a while, and they have some truly remarkable products. From their extensive lineup of sights to their quivers, stabilizers, and apparel. The Peak 5 Pin is one of their more budget-oriented bow sights, but that is by no means a bad thing. It comes with the excellent build quality, as well as all the perks and features that you would expect from a good bow sight. Let’s take a look at the details and see whether it’s worth it.
Let’s start things off with the build quality. Seeing as it’s an outdoor product, it needs to be durable. The material of choice here Is the Ballistix CoPolymer system. It is just as strong as aluminum, but it comes at 25% less weight. Weight is a big factor with bow sights, so this is very welcome. The material and the coating also allow for a good amount of vibration reduction. The soft touch gives it somewhat of a premium feel and look, too.
The Ridge comes with a vertical, in-line pin technology. The five included pins are positioned vertically to give you a clear and unobstructed view of your target, regardless of which pin you’re using. Also, if you find that you don’t really need five pins, you can remove some of them as necessary, for an even better look at the target. Right below the pins is a horizontal bubble level, so you’re sure you aren’t leaning your bow towards one side or another. The pins all have bright fiber optics, to make sure nighttime visibility is great. They’re all .019” thick, which is the go-to size nowadays. To add to the nighttime performance, you have a glow in the dark ring on the edge of the sight, for even better visibility. Last but not least, there’s also a rheostat light. You know, more visibility can’t hurt, right?
As far as adjustments go, the Trophy Ridge Peak 5 Pin is all set. Even though micro adjustments are usually the characteristic of only the high-end bow sights, that’s not the case here. You have a toolless adjustment for both windage and elevation, which allows you to dial in your shot with no issues. The knobs are smooth, easy to adjust, and accurate.
So, what are our final thoughts on the Trophy Ridge Peak? Well, it’s very likely one of the best bow sights out there, if not the best for most people. To begin with, it doesn’t cost as much as a true high-end sight, making it much more accessible for beginner archers. It’s built really well and is actually lightweight, so it won’t throw you off balance. The five pins in a vertical orientation are a great system, and there are plenty of low light aids as well. Add to that the adjustments the Peak comes with, and you’ve got yourself a real winner on your hands. If you’re looking for a great all-around bow sight, by all means, get it.
2. Field Logic IQ Ultra Lite
At a Glance
Field Logic has created an excellent sight in the Ultra Lite. It’s lightweight, it’s accurate, and it works admirably. It may not have too many bells and whistles, but it’s still a great pick. You get to choose whether you get a 3-pin or a 5-pin configuration, and there’s also the choice between a left hand and right-hand orientation. Unless you’re looking for too much in terms of adjustability or advanced features, this may be a great buy.
The build quality is good. It’s made out of a high impact-resistance lightweight polymer. This keeps the weight down, which is always helpful with archery sights. The coating finish is matte and adds a premium feel to the whole sight. It may not be as stiff as aluminum, but this isn’t something you’ll notice in day to day use. What you will notice is the mere 5.6-ounce weight – you’ll barely feel the sight is on your bow.
Unlike the Peak we spoke about earlier, the Ultra-Lite comes with horizontally placed pins. You can choose between three or five when you’re buying. They are all .019”, which is the optimum dimension for pins today. Fiber optics are standard, so you can rest assured that low light visibility isn’t compromised. The sight is also compatible with a rheostat light (model S15000), but that’s an extra purchase and doesn’t come with the sight. Right below the pins is a horizontal bubble level, to help you with keeping the bow vertical.
An interesting addition to the sight is the Retina Lock technology. It makes use of a moving dot which helps you align the sight perfectly. This eliminates any issues caused by a misplaced anchor point or a slightly torqued bow. With time and practice, this will allow you to shoot longer distances more consistently, which results in tighter groups. If you’re an experienced hunter who already has a perfect bow grip, this may not make a difference. However, if you’re only getting into the hobby, and your grip does have some variation from shot to shot, the Retina Lock technology will help.
As we mentioned, the sight doesn’t have a lot of adjustabilities. However, it does come with micro adjust knobs, as well as locking knobs. The micro-adjust knobs will let you dial windage and elevation, to make sure that you’re aiming right where you should be. This is a toolless adjustment, and the knobs work smoothly and accurately, just as expected. Once you’ve set them up, you can lock them to make sure that they stay into place, right where you want them.
So, who is the Ultra-Lite bow sight for? It’s certainly not for everyone. Many people will scoff at the material of choice, and experienced hunters may find the Retina Lock unnecessary. On the other hand, if you’re a person who’s just getting into archery, the Ultra-Lite may be one of the best bow sights you can get. It doesn’t cost a lot, you can choose between three or five sights, as well as right or left-hand orientation, and you get the basic necessary adjustments. The Retina Lock will certainly help you until you get your muscle memory dialed in, and the locking knobs are a nice touch. All of this, at a decent price, results in one of the best archery sights for people who are still trying to perfect their skills.
3. Black Gold Rush 5 Pin
At a Glance
The Black Gold Rush is a very attractive sight. It’s a great example of “cheap isn’t always cheaply made”, as it comes at a price that doesn’t break the bank, yet it’s built like a tank. Just like all of the other Black Gold sights, it’s made in the US, and built with quality materials. There are a couple of compelling reasons to choose it over the competition – it’s very simple, it’s built well, and it comes with all the essentials. Now sure, it may not have too many advanced bells and whistles, but if you don’t need too much, this may be an excellent option as far as archery sights go.
We’ll start things off with the design and build. It’s made of an all-aluminum construction which makes it more durable than any polymer sight on the market. Even though it’s built to last, even if something does happen, you have Black Gold’s impeccable customer service backing it up. While we’re on the outside, we should mention that the Rush comes with Black Gold’s Photochromatic Technology. This is a technology inside the shell that acts as a cover for the fibers. When there’s too much light, it will turn purple. This way it blocks out any excessive sunlight and makes sure the pins don’t become too bright. You will also find a fluorescent sight ring which significantly helps with quick peep alignment. If you don’t like the fluorescent color, Black Gold offers a variety of different colors.
Moving on to the pins, we have another one of the reasons why the Rush is one of the best bow sights out there. Where other manufacturers make pins by casting, these are fully machined from bar stock. The pin’s design comes with a groove that keeps the pin protected. Due to the way Black Gold wraps the fiber optics on the top, the pins are some of the brightest out there. That’s why they need the Photochromatic Technology to keep them from becoming too bright. The five pin configuration is the most popular out there, but the Rush can also be bought in 3, 4 and 7 pin configurations. All of the options come with .019” pins.
As with anything else that doesn’t cost an excessive amount of money, the Rush isn’t perfect. The most notable downside is the lack of any micro adjustments. Sure, there are the basic adjustments, but you’ll need an Allen wrench if you want to make any changes whatsoever. If you think that you’ll really need micro adjustments, this may very well be a dealbreaker.
When everything is said and done, the Black Gold Rush is an excellent bow sight. It checks almost all of the important boxes. It has multiple pins, it is built really well, it’s lightweight yet stiff, and it comes with really bright pins and an excellent sight ring. However, the lack of micro-adjustments means that you’ll need a tool to do any kind of adjusting on the sight, which makes it a no-no for many. If, however, you can look past this, we would have a hard time recommending anything else over the Rush.
4. Southland Archery Supply 7 Pins Bow Sight
At a Glance
Southland Archery Supply’s 7 pin bow sight is one of the most versatile bow sights we have on our list. It comes with a lot of adjustabilities, plenty of features, as well as very good build and quality. It also won’t cost you too much. If you’re a beginner archer looking to get a good bow sight that won’t break the bank, read on. The SAS 7 pins bow sight may be the one for you.
To begin with, all of the parts the SAS is made of are aircraft grade aluminum and CNC machined. This means that the whole build is stiff and sturdy, and will be much more durable than something like the polymer bow sights we discussed above. The construction allows you to set it up for either right or left-hand use, and it comes with a detachable reversible bracket that adds a lot of vertical adjustabilities. If you’re looking for something you can fine tune and set up for your bow and style of shooting, this is it. The head is one-piece, which significantly helps with reducing vibration. This is a very welcome addition, one you’ll appreciate that much more once you start getting more and more tired when hunting or shooting.
Moving on to the pins, you’ll get seven full capture pins with the very common .019” size. They’re horizontally set up, which may get in the way of you seeing your target clearly. However, you do get a very large, 2” diameter housing and a bright green sight ring, which should somewhat negate that and still give you a good field of view. Below the pins you will find a horizontal bubble level, to make sure your bow is completely vertical. The tubes have 40” of super tough fiber which, considering its fragility, is protected in a stainless steel pin tube, and has no mushroomed end.
We did mention at the beginning that the SAS is a very versatile bow sight. Aside from the bracket that you can adjust vertically, you also get ultra-fine click adjustments that let you dial in both windage and elevation. Both knobs work extremely smoothly, and they’re very precise. The bushings are easy to glide as well, and they’re filled with Teflon, so everything is easy to adjust.
Even though the Southland Archery Supply’s 7 pin bow sight isn’t top notch in every category, it’s actually a compelling piece of gear. It comes at a low cost, yet manages to include all the basic functionality that one may require. Sure, you won’t find anything extra aside from that, but it’s overall a great package. Whether you’re a beginner hunter or an experienced one that’s just looking to add another bow sight to their arsenal, you should definitely take a look at the SAS.
5. GWS ProHunter AR Series
At a Glance
The Pro Hunter brand may not be one you’d instantly recognize, but it’s definitely a good budget oriented option. It’s a single pin sight that aims to be a durable, accurate and adjustable variant for entry-level archers. It manages to cover all the basics and give you a few extra features, for not a lot of money. If you’re interested, and you think you don’t need a multi-pin sight, read on.
Starting things off with the build quality, it is actually much better than you would expect at this price point. It’s made out of CNC-machined 6061 aluminum, which is lightweight, stiff and durable. It is also drilled and tapped if you want to add a light to it, but that light has to be purchased separately. At this price point, we don’t mind.
As we mentioned, this is a single pin sight. The one pin comes in either a .019” or .029” size, so you can choose as per your needs. An excellent thing is that the pin is set up in a vertical orientation. This ensures that it doesn’t get in the way, and you can clearly see the target you’re aiming at. Night time hunting is covered with 3” of fiber optics. The scope housing is 1.75”, and the fiber optics are housed inside a stainless steel tube. Seeing as this is a very fragile component, we’re happy to see such protection at this price point. You will also find the green ring around the sight very useful as well.
Let’s discuss adjustments. Even though we didn’t expect it, given the price, you still get a toolless micro adjustment system for windage. You’ll also get laser etched markings, which come in handy. To make the adjustments even smoother, the glide bushings are filled with Teflon.
To wrap things up, the GWS ProHunter AR Series bow sight is definitely not for everyone. For starters, many archers prefer bow sights that have multi-pin configurations. Even if you’re a fan of the single pin system, there is not too many adjustments for it either. However, if you want something that’s simple, yet functional, and covers the basics really well, the Pro Hunter AR Series bow sight may be a great budget option.
6. TRUGLO Carbon XS Xtreme
At a Glance
Remember when we said that the Field Logic Ultra Lite is extremely lightweight? Well, the TRUGLO Carbon XS Xtreme is even lighter. Coming in at 4.2 oz., it’s an astonishingly light bow sight, one you won’t notice is sitting on your bow. What’s even better, it won’t cost as much as your bow did, making it accessible for individuals who are just getting into archery sights. These specifications at this price certainly piqued our interest, and we do believe that if you want something that’s as light as possible, you should take a closer look. Let’s discuss the details.
For starters, the low weight of the TRUGLO Carbon XS Xtreme comes from its body. It’s made out of a carbon composite construction. For starters, it is extremely stiff. It’s made for durability as well, so you can just set it and forget it. The TRU-TOUCH soft feel technical coating gives it a premium look and feel. The sight does look like it costs a lot more than it actually does. The sight is adjustable for both left hand and right-hand users, so you can set it up just as you like it. While we’re at adjustability, you should know that the bracket is reversible, which significantly helps with vertical adjustability.
Let’s discuss the pins for a minute. You get five pins, each of them at .019”. They’re TRUGLO’s PRO-BRITE pins. This is their way of saying that the gap between the pins is minimized, while their brightness is maximized to ensure low light performance is as good as possible. The pins also have extra long optic fibers that allow them to gather all the light possible. Even though they’re set up horizontally, their design still allows you to see as much as possible when you’re aiming. Right below the pins, you will find a horizontal bubble level.
When it comes to adjustability, with the TRUGLO Carbon XS Xtreme you, unfortunately, don’t get any toolless adjustments. Sure, you get standard markings for windage and elevation, but you’ll need a tool. This is an inconvenience, to say the least, which bothers some more than others.
So, what’s our final verdict on the TRUGLO Carbon XS Xtreme? Well, for one, if it weren’t for the lack of micro adjustability and tool-less adjustments, we would’ve voted this to be one of the best bow sights when it comes to lightweight options. Excellent design, amazing material choice, and great performance. If you don’t need the adjustability, this bow sight is for you. But if you do, we would advise you to look elsewhere.
7. Trophy Ridge Pursuit
At a Glance
With all the multi-pin options on our list, it was about time we took a look at a simpler, single-pin alternative. As you’ll see in our buyers’ guide below, a single pin is often a great choice for some situations. The Trophy Ridge Pursuit is an excellent representation of a simple single pin bow sight that has all the basics covered. It also comes from a reputable brand and has excellent build quality. If you’re one of the people who appreciate the simplicity and you don’t mind readjusting your sight every now and then, this may be an excellent option.
The build quality is great. It’s made out of aluminum, which makes it stiff and sturdy. Yes, it may not be as lightweight as a polymer or carbon composite bow sight. However, the fact that there’s only a single pin does help with the weight. You won’t get a sight and bow that are too heavy. The mounting bracket is very solid and it’s compatible with all compound bows that have a standardly tapped riser. Inside, you’ll also find that you have screws and spacers if you want to mount a quiver.
Moving on to usability and adjustability. To begin with, both a right-handed and a left-handed archer can use the sight. It does require an Allen key to adjust it, but it’s only done in a few minutes. It also allows you to adjust it along the second and third axis, which allows you to dial in windage and elevation. Unfortunately, there is no micro adjustment. Therefore, vertical adjustment is done fairly quickly, but windage does require a bit longer. You’ll need to loosen the sight and move the entire housing. Another downside here is that Trophy Ridge has not included any calibration marks for adjusting windage either, which makes it somewhat of a guessing game.
Now, the slider mechanism is incredibly smooth. There are Delrin bushings that allow for smooth and quiet movement with absolutely no metal-to-metal contact. It may take some time until you have the ranges marked. However, once you’ve got them out of the way, the sight will remain dead on. You only get a single pin here, one that’s ultra-bright and .019” with a fiber optic. Some may argue that multi-pin bow sights are better, but we’ll discuss that later on. Here, you have the advantage of not needing to move all pins around. You can sight it in for ranges of 20, 30, 40, 50 yards, or more, provided your bow has enough power for that. You’ll get a tape kit included, which will allow you to sight the Pursuit at either 20-40 yards or 20-60 yards, depending on your needs.
With the bow sight, you’ll also get a rheostat sight light. This is used to light up the fibers if necessary. Note that you shouldn’t leave it on at all times, as it does consume the battery rather quickly. It does work well in low-light situations. However, some states don’t allow you to use a battery operated light, so make sure you take it off if that’s the case. The light does come with brightness adjustment, which is another welcome feature.
To wrap things up, we would agree that the Trophy Ridge Pursuit is definitely not for everyone. There are many people who would much prefer a multi-pin sight due to the ease of use, and those will dismiss the Pursuit immediately. However, beginner or intermediate archers that prefer simplicity will appreciate this. If you’re such an archer and are on a budget, the Pursuit is a great option. It’s made of quality materials, it allows you to set it and forget it, and it lasts a good while. Aside from micro-adjustments, it has everything you would commonly only find in the high-end best bow sights. If this sounds like something you could use, pull the trigger and order it.
8. Field Logic IQ Micro
At a Glance
We already spoke about Field Logic and their impressive Ultra Lite, but this time we have a somewhat different beast on our table. We’re talking about the IQ Micro, which has all the adjustability and customization you need, while still keeping the price acceptable. If you take the time to learn how to use the available technologies, you’ll have a great time with one of the best bow sights you can find on the market today. Let’s take a look at the details and see why it’s so impressive, and why you should definitely give it a chance.
Starting things off with the pin options, the IQ Micro comes with either three, five or seven pins. Note that you can remove pins with an Allen wrench and a bit of fiddling with the optic cables. Therefore, when you’re choosing, get the highest amount of pins you’ll actually use. A good recommendation is if you only need three pins, and got the five pin option, for example, push the bottom two as low as they go, effectively taking them out of the picture. The pins are all adjustable and come at .019”. You can set them up just like you like them, which make the IQ Micro a very versatile sight for people who want to sight at very specific distances.
The design is interesting, to say the least. You get a compact bow sight with a sleek design and vibrant green accents. It’s easily set apart from anything else. As far as adjustability goes, you’ll find locking knobs for micro adjustment. These let you adjust elevation and windage – something usually reserved for higher end sights. The locking toggle will let you keep them in place when you have them set. At the bottom of the sight’s ring is a built-in level which should help you keep the bow vertical.
Let’s talk about the Retina Lock for a moment. We mentioned it briefly with the Ultra Lite, but we’ll go into a bit more detail here. As per Field Logic’s claims, it should control your muscle memory, your form, and your shot-to-shot consistency. It’s designed to provide you with feedback and tell you how to manage torque, and how to change your anchor points. If you’re a beginner archer or someone who’s still trying to perfect their shot, the Retina Lock will show you any flaws in your form and shooting style. If you’re an open-minded archer who’s open to receiving suggestions, you’ll find your shooting skills improve greatly. The key is “open-minded” since people seldom like being shown what they aren’t doing right. However, if you’re willing to let the Retina Lock help you, it’s quite effective.
When you consider everything the Field Logic IQ Micro has to offer, you’re left with one of the best bow sights for people who are still learning. It’s versatile, and it has all the adjustments you may need, and then some. The best thing is that it doesn’t even break the bank. This is a great option for anyone looking at getting their first bow sight.
9. Black Gold Ascent Verdict Dovetail
At a Glance
Black Gold is a brand we spoke about earlier. They’re the proud innovators of some of the most durable archery sights out there. To back up that claim, they’ll give you an unconditional lifetime warranty which states that if any part breaks, for any reason, it will be either repaired or replaced, free of charge. That does show quite a lot of confidence in their products, which translates into confidence when people buy their products. The Ascent Verdict Dovetail is the evolution of their Ascent bow sight. It was an extremely popular model with a nifty feature that gave you all the adjustments you may need – the “Dial of Death”. The Ascent Verdict Dovetail improves on some of the shortcomings of the original model and manages to be one of the most versatile archery sights we’ve come across.
So, what is the “Dial of Death”? It’s a part of the sight that, combined with the micro adjustments, lets you adjust just about anything on your sight. For example, let’s say you have the five pins set up at 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 yards. With the Ascent Verdict, you’re getting a 45-degree faceplate on which you should stick a sight tape in order to make yardage adjustments. The faceplate allows you to easily see the sight tape. You’ll get 54 different sight tapes with the Verdict, so you can find one that fits your bow best.
Set your “Dial of Death” adjustment needle to 70 yards, and sight your bow in so that the 70-yard pin is spot on. Provided you’ve picked the correct sight tape, all you’ll need to do is to undo the locking screw and dial the needle to the distance you need. If you need to readjust to 80 yards, just undo the screw, dial the needle and lock it back in place. Once you’re done with your shot, readjust it back to 70 yards. It may sound a bit complex, but if you set it up right from the start, it allows you to easily adjust the distances with absolutely no trouble.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the other nifty features you’ll get with the Ascent Verdict Dovetail. The other important one is the Photochromatic Technology that’s a standard on Black Gold archery sights. The cover on the optic fibers is made from a plastic material that changes color under UV light. It will turn purple, which allows less light inside. This prevents the pins from becoming too bright and not really visible in bright light. You’re also getting micro adjustability, which allows you to quickly dial in windage and elevation. The knobs are expectedly smooth and accurate, so you can fine tune the adjustments.
As far as we’re concerned, Black Gold actually hit the nail on the head with their Ascent Verdict Dovetail. It’s an incredibly impressive sight with extreme adjustability that lets you easily shoot past your comfort zone. The “Dial of Death” and the Photochromatic Technology are excellent additions, and ones you won’t find on archery sights made by other brands. The best part? The sight doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount of money. If you like the feature set and appreciate the confidence they have in their products, you should get it – you won’t regret it anytime soon.
10. HHA DS-5019 Optimizer Lite Ultra
At a Glance
We’re finishing up our list with another single pin sight. This time it’s the HHA Sports’ Optimizer Lite Ultra. It’s a highly adjustable and fairly versatile sight, but one that commands a high asking price. It’s pricier than anything else on our list, but is it worth it? We’ll talk about the build, about the specs, and about setting it up and using it, so you can get a better understanding of whether you should spend your money on it or not.
For starters, the HHA Optimizer is made in the USA, and it’s made with a well constructed, CNC machined aluminum. There are very clean welds, and the smooth black finish screams premium. It is an expensive sight, but it also looks like one, too. A good description would be “stiff and sturdy”, and we wouldn’t hesitate to add “durable” into the mix as well.
The Optimizer is a single pin sight. The pin is of the common, .019” type, and it has a fiber optic tip for increased visibility. The fiber optic is protected by the machined aluminum pin carrier. Unlike with other, more conventional sights, the HHA Optimizer has a patented sight tape. It allows you to turn the dial in any direction in order to match your target’s distance. Assuming you’ve sighted it in properly, this should result in an accurate shot. Considering single pin sights’ greatest disadvantage is the lack of adjustability, the Optimizer does solve this. You’ll also get a bubble level at the bottom, just below the vertical pin, as well as a green sight ring that helps with visibility a tad more. There’s also a rheostat that will let you adjust pin brightness in a matter of seconds.
When it comes to adjustability, you’ll get toolless micro adjustments. These will allow you to hold for windage and elevation, and the system is smooth and works really well. Combined with the yardage adjustment, you have a very versatile sight. You can use it in any situation. Another added benefit is the included dampers. They will significantly prevent vibrations from impacting your accuracy.
Even though it’s by far the most expensive bow sight on our list, the Optimizer Ultra will be very worth it for some. It brings you the best of both worlds. When aiming, you have a clear view of the single pin. When you need to change the distance, you’ve got the adjustment wheel. You also get windage and elevation adjustments, all of which are tool-free. If you’re willing to invest in one of the best bow sights out there, this should definitely be one of your options.
The Buyers’ Guide
Now that we’ve got our options out of the way, let’s take a look at what are the key factors when you’re buying archery sights. We’ll start things off with the two main types of bow sights, and we’ll move on to some of the components that make up bow sights.
Single Pin Bow Sights vs. Multi-Pin Bow Sights
This is the first decision you’ll need to make when choosing bow sights. Some prefer the simplicity of a single pin bow sight, while others want the added functionality of a multi-pin. Let’s take a closer look at both and see which one could be better for you.
The single pin sight gives you a clear focus. They’ve been catching up recently, and quite a lot of shooters and hunters are making the switch. They’re as simple as they sound – you get a single pin that’s mounted on the sight. That’s all you have for any yardage you shoot at. You do get the choice between a single pin that stays at certain yardage, and an adjustable sight. With a single pin sight, you must move the pin to the yardage you’re shooting. Even though readjusting often may be a bit inconvenient, you’ll find that many users don’t really mind.
You have one major advantage with single pin bow sights – you can shoot point on every time. If you’re shooting at 37 yards, for example, you set the sight once, and you only hold dead on the target. You basically have no guesswork when aiming. Also, there’s no chance of using the wrong pin when you’re aiming, as there is only one option.
On the other hand, the obvious disadvantage of a single pin sight is that you can’t really adjust it quickly to circumstances that are changing rapidly. Let’s say you’re hunting in a wide open area, and your target is at 30 yards. You adjust your sight and you’re ready to take a shot. However, while you’re adjusting, your target moved further away and is now at 45 yards. You’ll either need to readjust your sight, or you’ll need to estimate to hold for the extra distance by yourself. On the other hand, if you know your target will be at more or less a certain distance, this is no issue and you can go ahead and get a single pin bow sight.
Multi-pin bow sights are some of the most popular bow sights out there. They have several pins that you can set at known distances. Many shooters opt for anywhere from 3 to 6 pins on their archery sights, and it’s a common occurrence for bows to come standard with a 3-pin sight. To make it easier to differentiate between ranges, you get different color pins. Another interesting fact is that you can add more pins, or remove some, according to your needs and requirements. Meaning, you can get a 3-pin sight and make it a 6-pin one if you need it.
The first and the biggest advantage to multi-pin bow sights is the ability for easy range adjustments. Let’s say you have two targets – one at 25 yards, and the other one at 40. You simply shoot the first one, then move on to the second one and just a different pin for your reference point. Simple as that. You can also customize multi-pin sights as you like them, from the number of pins to the distances you set them at. One popular method of doing this is to set a single pin for targets that are at 30 yards or closer, while another is to set pins for a few distances, such as 15 yards, 25 yards, and 35 yards. Regardless of what your preference is, you can make it happen with a multi-pin sight.
They aren’t all great, though. For example, a mistake many users make is to add too many pins to the sight. This results in a cluttered picture and is often distracting. It’s not just hard to focus. There have been a lot of occasions where an archer used the wrong pin – it’s not all that difficult to make such a mistake. The other thing is that you’ll often need to estimate shots. Let’s say you have pins set at 35 and 50 yards. If you’re shooting a shot at 43 yards, you’ll need to estimate where to hold in order to hit the target. This is a thing you can easily get used to, and after a bit of practice, anyone can overcome this issue.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you’d rather have a clean sight and don’t mind readjusting for different distances, get a single pin bow sight. On the other hand, if you don’t mind a few extra pins in your line of view, a multi-pin bow sight is perfect and it may make your aiming easier. However, if you’re only getting into archery sights, we would recommend that you either get a single-pin or a simple 3-pin multi-pin sight. It will only be beneficial to you while you are learning.
Fixed-Plate Sights and Dovetail Mounts
With most sights, you’re getting a fixed-plate design. The sight bracket is directly attached to the bow. It’s often mounted with two Allen screws. This results in the whole bracket and sight remaining on the bow at all times. This is very simple and reliable. It’s actually the preferred solution, given that you don’t need to repeatedly take the sight of and put it back on.
On the other hand, you have a dovetail mount. This system has a small retainer bracket that’s mounted to the bow. The bracket has a dovetail groove machined in it. The sight is then fitted onto an extension bracket. That bracket is made to fit the dovetail groove. All you need to do to put the sight on the bow is slide the extension bracket into the retainer bracket, and tighten it, usually with a large thumb screw. This allows the sight to easily come off the bow if necessary. Competition shooters often prefer this mount, because they can use various sights if they have the same brackets. Also, dovetail sights are often longer. This positions the pins a bit further away from the shooter. Consequently, you get better accuracy.
Sight Pin Diameter and Pin Guards
The pins on archery sights often come in a few sizes. Common ones include .019”, .029” and .040”. A larger pin will be much more visible in low light. However, at longer ranges, it will cover much more of the target, which may hinder your precise aiming. With the growth and today’s popularity of fiber optics (more on that below), even a small pin with a .019” diameter can be very visible in low light. This makes large pins somewhat unnecessary, and if you have fiber optics on the pins, you’re just losing accuracy.
A common solution is to go for different pin sizes which match shot distance. There are a few sight companies that will offer pins in a whole range of diameters. This allows you to use larger diameter pins for closer shots, and smaller diameter pins for long range. If you’re only going to use one size, the “norm” today is .019”. Unless you want to go up to .029”, you will want to make sure the pins have fiber optics.
Pin guards are often either square or round. As time passes, square pin guards are much less popular. Round ones actually offer a few significant advantages, and while you may not realize it at first, they do help you with your aiming. Rather than centering individual pins, you can center the pin guard in the peep sight, so you’re using the exact same anchor point on all of your shots, regardless of distance. All that you’ll need to do is either lower or raise the bow until you get the right pin on the spot. This is something you can’t do if you’re centering individual pins.
In order to center the pin guard, you’ll also want a larger peep sight, which is another possible advantage, but more on this later. There are a lot of companies nowadays that will put bright colors on the back of the pin guards to help with aiming. This is especially helpful in low light, as you can see more clearly and shoot more accurately.
Does it have gang adjustment?
While we’re on the topic of pins, you should know whether the sight has gang adjustment. That’s a system that will allow you to move all your pins at once. This is especially useful for elevation or windage adjustment. With bow sights, this is often done by loosening a single screw and then sliding the housing of the sight to the new position. There are some sights that will give you a micro-adjust feature. This comes in the shape of a simple gear that uses an adjustment knob to drive the housing’s motion. Instead of having to slide the entire housing, all you do is turn the knob.
Gang adjustment can be very handy if you’re fine-tuning your setup. Sights that have micro adjust are easy to work with and very precise. Considering that most shooters simply set their pins and don’t change the distances, being able to move them all at once without disturbing their positions can be very useful in certain situations. A downside here is that this kind of adjustment is usually only available on higher end sights which command a significant price hike. Depending on how much of a premium we’re talking about, micro adjustment is not always worth it.
Note the ease of use of your sight
With even the best bow sights, you’ll need to not only adjust the pins but the sight as well, both horizontally and vertically. You will have moveable parts that you’ll need to retighten. When you’re buying, make sure you get lock screws that are large enough to withstand the repeated vibration and stay tight. Sure, it’s a good idea to have a selection of wrenches that will allow you to keep things functioning, but a sight that doesn’t require retightening after every couple of shots is an even better one.
Another thing that significantly helps with ease of use is a bubble level that allows you to keep the bow aligned vertically. Even though not many shooters actually remember to look at their level when hunting, this will become second nature as you continue practicing. When the time comes, you’ll find yourself using the level with each shot.
Second and Third Axis Adjustments
Even though they aren’t really necessary for an all round hunting rig, some sights do include second and third axis adjustments. Even though you may have the bubble level we just spoke about, the 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments will ensure that the bubble level is telling you the truth.
The 2nd axis adjustment will deal with what’s called “leveling the level”. With a built-in level, you’ll want the sight to be machined perfectly square. You also need the bow’s riser to be perfectly square. In this case, the level should read a perfect zero. However, that’s not always the case. The bubble level is often installed in the outer pin guard. This is typically trapezoidal or round, so not perfectly square. A bubble level being a degree or two off isn’t all that uncommon.
A sight that has second axis adjustment will let you adjust the position of the entire sight housing and how it sits relative to the bow’s riser. This ensures the sight’s level correctly shows you when the bow is level. Even though this isn’t too difficult to implement, it is typically only available on higher-end models. The thing here is that not many of us need it that much. You’ll find many people struggle to keep their bow perfectly upright, even when there is a level. Therefore, obsessing over having this setting be perfect is very often not really worth it.
Moving on to the third axis adjustment. This kind of adjustment allows a sight housing to completely swivel inward or outward. At first sight, this seems counterproductive. You want the setting at the perfect 90 degrees, right? Well, wrong. Most shooters actually have some kind of hand torque when holding their bow. They twist the bow’s riser to one side or another, and a 3rd axis adjustment will compensate for this.
Considering everyone is different, a proper adjustment will actually be individual for everyone. Some may find that 90 degrees is ideal, but most will not. How does this impact the shot? Well, on perfectly level ground, it doesn’t. But shoot slightly uphill or downhill, and the level will give an inaccurate reading. Consequently, you’ll execute the shot with a bow that’s significantly canted. The result? Missing your mark to the left or the right. The thing here is that it is not always worth it, especially if the price difference for a sight with 3rd axis adjustment is big.
At the end of the day, both 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments can help, but you don’t have to overpay for them. If they come in the package, they’re a welcome addition, though.
Are you covered in low light conditions?
In the early days of bow sights, a miniature flashlight would illuminate the pins in low light situations. Even though that was fairly effective, the illuminators needed to be turned on and off and required batteries. Today’s solution is fiber optics. They gather light and then transmit it to the fiber’s tip. This results in a bright point of light with no batteries required. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, you get a cable tip that clearly stands out. A thing to note here is that many bow sights manufacturers don’t support the fiber very well. The fibers are brittle, and they can break easily, especially where it comes out of the sight body. Make sure your sight uses fiber optics that are fully protected if you want them to last.
Another option is Tritium. Tritium is a radioactive element that’s added to paint, and it gathers light just like the luminous dials on a watch do. It will give you more or less the same effect – an illuminated pin for easier sighting. However, if you simply can’t make up your mind between fiber optics and Tritium, there are always bow sights that use a combination of both.
Last but not least, there’s still the option of using some kind of light to illuminate your pins. However, not all states allow this, so make sure it is legal before you do it. Lights are, as we mentioned, battery powered. They’re usually screwed directly into the sight, or taped onto the housing. The light will either shine directly on the pins, or on the fiber optics, which makes the pins visible regardless of how dark it is.
Consider peep sights
A peep sight will give you a small aperture on the bowstring. This allows you to look through it and set the sight’s pins at the correct distance. This is an important piece of your shooting experience because it will establish an anchor point. You’ll find peeps in various sizes, and they’re often aligned with a rubber cord that you attach to the frame of the bow.
Peeps will come with various apertures. Even though a larger aperture is much easier to use in low light, it also has a much larger margin of error. A small aperture is better in this regard, but you’ll have low light issues. The modern solution is to opt for a larger peep and use it with a sight with a circular frame, so you can align the circle with the peep.
One thing to note, though, is that if you wear glasses, you may want to do away with the peep completely.
Experienced hunters and archers wouldn’t hesitate to spend more than $500 on the best bow sights available out there. However, if you’re only getting into the hobby, you may want to hold out on spending that much money. Don’t get the cheapest sight, by any means, but get something that’s more affordable. If you feel like you’re starting to love the hobby, you can splurge on all the bells and whistles you need afterward.
As you can see, choosing the best bow sights for someone’s needs can be tricky. There are a lot of variables to consider, and an inexperienced buyer can easily get confused. You may be fooled into marketing pitches saying that you really need that 6-pin sight, when in reality, three pins are more than enough for the distances you’re shooting at.
In order to help you make an informed buying decision, we hope to have given you a couple of options that are worthy of your money. Whichever of the bow sights above you opt for, you’ll be getting an excellent sight. It’s just a matter of how much you’re willing to invest in one, as well as what exactly you need it for.