Skip to main content

How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.

How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You

Here’s a rundown of some popular sight options and the best ways to put them into use.

There’s a time for complexity and a time for simplicity. When the buck that’s been haunting your trail cameras (and dreams) for weeks is about to be broadside in a shooting lane, care to guess what time it is?

A bow sight, at its core, is a pretty simple device. It’s little more than a housing that holds an aiming point. When properly calibrated and aligned, it should help point your arrow in the proper direction.

Nevertheless, bowhunters are humans, and humans tend to make things more complicated than they really need to be. Such is the case with sighting systems. I prefer to follow the time-honored notion of simple is as simple does. It works for me, and I’d wager it’ll work for you as well. So let’s cut to the quick here and run down some popular sight options, along with this bowhunter’s opinion on where to best put them to use.

Fixed Pins

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that the fixed-pin sight is my go-to for the majority of my bowhunting needs. The reason is simple. Literally.


DESIGN: The fixed-pin system is the most basic and simplistic of all bow sights. (That is, unless you count instinctive shooting or, perhaps, gap-shooting as a sighting system … which I don’t. I consider each of those an art.) A fixed-pin setup features multiple pins that are adjusted for yardage.


WHERE TO USE IT: If you’re a die-hard whitetail hunter who’s going to spend most of your time hunting from a stand or blind in the East or Midwest, I see no reason to complicate things. Get a solid, fixed-pin sight that you like, and get to know it well.

Bow Sights
The SL4 from Custom Bow Equipment is simple to use and rugged—two benefits of quality fixed-pin sights.

The number of pins you choose is up to you, but I’ll make ample fun of you for choosing more than three. In most cases, two will do the job admirably. Today’s compound bows are plenty fast. No matter what you may read on Facebook, the vast majority of bucks are killed at distances under 30 yards.

ONE TO TRY: I look for a sight that’s made mostly of aluminum with .019 pins. I like a level on the bottom of the housing to help me correct bow torque. Aside from that, I don’t need much else except a fair price. The Custom Bow Equipment SL4 (custombowequipment.com) fits the bill. It’s highly adjustable and rock-solid. At about $130 it’s not a cheap sight, but it will last as long as you need it.

Adjustable Single Pin

There’s something beautiful about a well-tuned arrow in flight, especially when it hits where it was aimed at long range. This is where adjustable single-pin sights can shine.


DESIGN: The way these sights function is pretty self-explanatory. They feature a single-pin housing that’s adjusted with a dial throughout a range of yardages marked on a tape. After the sight is properly set up, simply dial in the yardage to the target, hold the pin dead-on and shoot.

WHERE TO USE IT: The single-pin system is preferred by a lot of Western elk and mule deer hunters. It’s an ideal system for open-country hunts where trees are scarce and cover is scant. Longer-than-average shots are the norm here, and the adaptability of the adjustable pin is beneficial.

That said, the single-pin sight takes some getting used to. You absolutely must condition yourself to range your target and adjust your sight—every single time.


Bow Sights
The Spot-Hogg Fast Eddie permits hunters to precisely adjust its single pin for the range to the target.

Trust me, that’s sometimes forgotten in the heat of the moment and if that moment is truly hot, you may not have time to make the change. I blew a shot at a dandy whitetail in Kansas a few years back when the buck bolted in on the heels of a doe and I didn’t have time (or the composure) to adjust the yardage on my single-pin sight. If you’re interested in going the adjustable single-pin route, do so now and spend all summer getting into the habit of checking your dial before every shot.

ONE TO TRY: I used Spot-Hogg’s Fast Eddie ($259.99; spot-hogg.com) for several seasons, and it was a pleasure to work with. It’s easy to set up, and the silent-click adjustments really help to dial in the exact yardage.

Hybrid

If fixed-pin setups are reliably simple and adjustable single-pin sights help in situations of widely varying distances, why can’t you have both? Enter the hybrid.

DESIGN: Perhaps the fastest-growing segment of the sight market, these systems combine fixed pins inside an adjustable scope housing. Rather than relying on a single pin for all yardage adjustments, you can set up traditional pin gaps (say 20, 30, 40 yards, etc.) and then use the scope dial for precise aiming at specific yardages in between or beyond the fixed-pin settings.

Bow Sights
Serving as a fixed-pin sight but also offering dial adjustments for range, the Black Gold Ascent Verdict is a versatile hybrid setup.

WHERE TO USE IT: This system can really stand out in the mixed farmland/prairie habitat of the western Midwest. Think Kansas and the Dakotas. In the morning you could be hunting an oak-choked draw with limited shooting distances before hitting a prairie pothole on the edge of a massive cornfield in the afternoon. The versatility of the system allows for quick, familiar shooting with the fixed pins and the ability to dial in for exact (perhaps longer) yardages when needed.

ONE TO TRY: The Black Gold Ascent Verdict ($265.95; blackgoldsights.com) has everything I like in a sight. It’s rugged and made mostly of metal. The area for the sight tape is at a 45-degree angle for easy viewing, the pins gather light like crazy, and the “Dial-of-Death” adjustment knob is as good as it gets. Perhaps best of all, Black Gold offers the sight with a single- or multi-pin scope, and a single-pin scope is available as an accessory. You can try the sight as a hybrid system and change to a single-pin setup if you prefer.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Increase a lure’s effectiveness by pairing it with the ideal reel speed.

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties are accompanied by melted Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and Thousand Island dressing and then pressed in between two toasted and golden brown pieces of rye bread.Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe Wild Game

Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe

Kristy Crabtree - October 27, 2020

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties...

See More Trending Articles

More Bows

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You Bows

How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You

Tony Hansen

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.

More visible arrow flight to your intended target.New Archery Gear: Easton 6.5 Whiteout Carbon Arrows Bows

New Archery Gear: Easton 6.5 Whiteout Carbon Arrows

Game and Fish Staff - December 16, 2020

More visible arrow flight to your intended target.

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Expandable Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 12, 2021

11 broadheads new to the expandable-blade market this year — ATA Show.

There are plenty of bowhunters who opt for the dependability of fixed-blade designs.New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2021 ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2021

Lynn Burkhead - January 11, 2021

There are plenty of bowhunters who opt for the dependability of fixed-blade designs.

See More Bows

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now