Image by: Andy Rogers
With the rise of compound bows for bow hunting, bow fishing, or simple target practice, there are all kinds of accessories to go along with them. One of the most useful is the bow sight. If you’ve ever been on a ship, you know that an essential tool to help the captain navigate is the spyglass. But when do bow sights work best and for who do they work?
A bow sight works similarly in conjunction with your bow, helping with three key areas:
• Focusing your field of vision
• Improving your aim
• Ensuring that not only are your arrows properly aligned, but that you hit the target each time
Any archer would be able to improve their aim with the aid of a bow sight. You can even find them in youth sizes, in addition to standard sizes, so that young archers can get started practicing with them.
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The Different Types of Bow Sights
Before going out to purchase any old bow sight, familiarize yourself with the two different kinds. Both are made of either a light aluminum or plastic to keep from adding too much extra weight to your bow. They also come with their own windage and elevation adjustments. There are two main kinds:
• Basic 3-pin sight
• Single-pin movable sight
Bow sights use small vertical fiber optic pins made out of brass (either three of them or a single one) that are positioned in the sight, along with a bubble level. The level functions just like a carpenter’s level when hanging pictures on a wall; it keeps your shots properly aligned and straight.
Since the pins are of different colors, usually red, green, or yellow, they are really easy to see as you look through them down towards your arrows. The pins are also protected by a colored hood, which increases visibility. Since compound bows can come in either right- or left-handed models, so do 3-pin bow sights. Look for those which have a reversible mount design. The single pin bow sights aren’t reversible and can only be purchased for your dominant hand.
The 3-pin sights are less expensive than the single pin models which remove extraneous objects and create one single clear and unobstructed view of your target. You can make extremely tiny and ultra-precise adjustments with a single-pin bow sight, for truly astonishing accuracy when using them in the field.
While these are the two basic types, 4-pin sights and 5-pin sights are also available.
Using a Bow Sight
Bow sights certainly work best when you use them correctly. After you’ve shot a few arrows with them, you’ll feel blinded. It’s like the difference between using or not using your glasses when reading.
Mount the bow sight to your compound bow. When you raise the bow vertical, you’ll notice that each of the pins in a standard 3-pin sight which indicates a specific yardage. The bottom pin is for the furthest distance, the middle pin is for the middle distance, and the top pin is for the closest distance. Single-pin sights require that you choose exactly what yardage you want and then manually adjust them, limiting yourself to that one distance.
Before you take your bow sight out in the field, practice using it on a target bullseye. You’ll become comfortable using it. Try practicing with different distances. You might have to continually adjust the pin sights. However, their fiber optics and bright colors deeply improve your accuracy.
Distance Plus Accuracy Equals Results
When do bow sights work best? When you are in a shooting situation that depends on a particular distance as the number one factor in determining the accuracy of your shot.
In other words, if you know your target is 25 yards away, a bow sight is immensely useful.
There are many scenarios where this occurs, but especially when you’re in competition, out in the field, or during hunting season. Many bow archers prefer their sights when they’re sitting in tree stands or a blind.
Animals don’t stay still, so it’s up to the excellent adjustments from your bow sight to help you choose exactly what yardage you need. Practicing for competition will also get you comfortable using bow sights and enjoying how their design can greatly enhance your shooting.
When To Not Use a Bow Sight?
As you can see, pin bow sights are immensely useful. They’re a valuable tool that any compound bow archer should have in their kit to attach to the bow and increase accuracy at specific distances.
But, when does bow sight shooting not work best? That would be in scenarios where the distance between you and your target is either not important or changes so frequently that the pins get in the way. One example would be when bow fishing. Fish move so quickly and their distance away from you changes all the time, so you wouldn’t need a bow sight. Hunting smaller, faster game in the field is another example. Larger targets move slower, so a bow sight might help, especially if you were experienced enough to accurately assess the difference.
As long as it’s not imperative that you have to know your target distance, a bow sight will just add extra weight to your bow and won’t provide any noticeable improvements.
Becoming an Instinctive Shooter
After practicing with your bow sight, you will get pretty good at estimating distances. You’ll be able to determine how far that field target is when it’s 25 yards, 30 yards, or 35 yards away, since you’ve helped train your eye to accurately measure those distances based on the pins in the bow sight.
For this reason, it’s advisable that you not depend on a bow sight for all types of shooting. You want to practice honing what’s called instinctive aiming, which is the art of accurately targeting no matter what the distance. It’s a skill that top archers have.
Archery is a sport that is based on precision and skill. It will take time to master using a pin bow sight, and even more practice to master shooting accurately without one.