Sight options


August 01, 2013

Bright, tough and micro-adjustments equal some of the best features in an archery sight. This is a critical piece of equipment for a hunter that is easily overlooked. With all the features it can become confusing to understand what is really needed. And the price range can vary greatly from $30 to $250. After using some high-quality and some poor quality equipment I have a list of requirements before buying. It’s not always the most expensive sight that is the best for you.

Let’s face it; today the equipment that we’re using far out performs the equipment from when I started hunting. Back then, hunting sights were not complicated. My first bow sight consisted of three big metal screw pins. Later on came the high-tech advancement of a sight guard. I don’t envy those days.

What is important before making a buying decision? And is there a need to spend lots of money on the best sight available? Follow along and I will help you make your own decision on what is important for your individual hunting situation.

Fiber Optic

One of the most important aspects to a hunting sight is the brightness. This is an area that I feel only a few manufacturers do extremely well. The first and last 15 minutes of hunting light can be useless without good bright fiber optic pins. The best way to get ultra bright sights is to have a long continuous fiber optic coil. This gathers the light during the ends of the day and provides a brighter pin. The fiber optic coil that is a foot or longer will gather the most light.

Additionally they often come in three sizes of fiber optic; .019, .029 and .039. The larger the diameter of the fiber optic the brighter the pin will appear. The trade-off is larger diameter fiber optics means that the pin covers more of the target. This can become a problem with longer shots that range out beyond 40 yards.

Some sights have a location to attach a light. I have used them in my younger years but no longer find them useful. The better lights illuminate the fiber optic cord that allows the tip of the pin to glow. A high-quality fiber optic gathers enough natural light to easily allow shooting during the last few minutes of shooting light. Also any electronic device disqualifies you from entering a trophy buck into the Pope & Young record books. I would avoid light kits unless you need them to see clearly.

Tough As Nails

Have you ever dropped your bow from a treestand? Slipped and fell on some mud? Smacked your bow against the tree? I am tough on my equipment and expect it to withstand the abuse. Often I find myself crawling through brush to get archery close. At the end of the stalk I expect everything to be in working order.

Aluminum components are a must; they are light-weight and do not rust. If there is any plastic it must be hard durable plastic on non-critical pieces. The sight housing must protect the pins and fiber optics from any damage. Everything needs to be tight, secure and ready to take a beating.



Fine tuning a bow comes with making tiny micro-adjustments. Being able to make fine tune adjustments will help you be truly deadly. Sights that allow each pin to adjust through a screwing mechanism are the best. They can be moved very slightly without making big movements. Poor sights allow a hunter to loosen a screw and slide up and down. That is great for large changes but makes micro-adjustments very hard.

If your hunting situation requires steep uphill and downhill shooting make sure the sight has a third degree adjustment. Often this is a screw in the arm of the sight. Most hunters in the Midwest do not need this additional adjustment unless you’re fanatical. This will give the hunter the ability to sight in for those steep angles that cause havoc on many.

Pin Decisions

The reason there are so many different pin options is each person and hunting terrain requires a different set of challenges. Hunting the thick timber of Michigan I rarely get the opportunity to shoot beyond 30 yards. Last year while hunting the open strips of timber in Iowa I could have stretched those limits far beyond my ability. So how many pins are necessary and should they be fixed or movable?

I do not like the clutter of five pins in my sight window. Therefore today I hunt with three pins. That works well given that I am not targeting animals much beyond 30 yards. For open terrain similar to western states more pins are a better option.

Keeping it simple. I have been an advocate of fixed pin sights. In a stressful situation I pick a pin, aim and shoot. If the game is between my pins, for example 27 yards, I adjust high or low. Movable pin sights do allow a hunter to be far more accurate. For that same animal that is standing 27 yards away the sight can be adjusted and then you put the pin right on the target. Unfortunately this takes some adjustments that I do not like under an already stressful situation.

Most recently there have been some sights with two fixed pins and the last one was movable. This is a sight I could really get excited about. It would allow for minimal pins yet if the game was standing beyond my third pin I could make some adjustments. Since any longer range shoot would likely be ranged those extra seconds to adjust a pin wouldn’t bother me.

Another feature that adds up into big benefits is vertical or angled pins. This becomes even more important with the more pins added into your sight window. Most pins are horizontal. They are easier to make and have traditionally worked well. The problem is the more pins you add the more the pins cover up the sight window. Angled or vertical pins take far less of the sight window away. Decide on your hunting style; are you comfortable making changes on a movable sight and what is your terrain type? This will dictate your pin decisions.

Little Features

Equal Big Deal

Some of the smallest features can make a big deal in archery accuracy. Many sights come with a level mounted onto the bracket. At short ranges this will not be important. Start stretching to 30 and beyond and a level will dramatically help with accuracy because it corrects the hunter’s form.

Sight guards come in different shapes and sizes. Many hunters today use a peep sight therefore I recommend matching that with a round sight guard. Centering the peep around the round sight guard will ensure a consistent anchor and aiming point.

With the speed coming off the bows this year the gaps in my sight pins keep getting smaller. Look for a sight that can allow for pins to be pushed together to a minimal gap.

Picking the right archery sight for you is a personal choice. What your hunting buddy uses might not be the right decision for you. Decide what terrain you’re hunting, how far you intend to shoot, do your eyes allow for a larger or smaller pin, and what feature you cannot live without? Answering those questions will help narrow down the selection to a handful of sights. Then get the most durable sight that can take a beating.