It’s difficult to consider a time when the compound bow was not the premier bow hunting tool it is today. It is even more difficult to consider a time when bows didn’t have sights. We have been hunting with archery equipment for thousands of years but the compound bow with a sight has become the premier instrument by far.
The modern bow shoots much flatter than was historically the case. This has what allowed sights to become so prolific. The added speed and range only increase the usefulness and accuracy of a sighted bow.
It is still common to see traditional equipment without sights and a few hunters still use compound bows without sights. The difference is hitting a basketball at 50 yards and hitting a baseball at 50 yards. Sights have been one of the most influential pieces of archery technology, maybe even more so than the compound bow itself.
The main advantage of a sighted bow is the removal of human error. By having pins sighted for different ranges or an adjustable sight, you narrow the range you have to estimate. Taking the guesswork out any part of shooting is key to developing pinpoint accuracy.
The high-pressure moment when you draw on a big buck or at an archery competition is not the moment you want to make a split-second decision. Your mind is already racing and making a misstep is common and all too easy. Simply lining up a pin is a much more foolproof method of hitting a target.
Though there have always been incredible feats of accuracy done with a bow, the addition of sights has brought that level of accuracy to the common shooter. To those who may not have the hours daily to dedicate to practicing shots.
While not all bow sights are the old style pins, the effect is much the same. Older bow sights may have had a many as 7 pins but modern sights can have a single pin or reticle. The range is then dialed in for what you are shooting much like a rifle scope.
You can still get both types, each have their own pros and cons. Most shooters start with multi-pin bow sights but will move to adjustable eventually. Knowing what works best for your shooting style and preferences may take some trial and error.
If you are searching for the best bow sights, those below cover all possible styles and types. If you have further questions about what to choose, we have included an all-encompassing buyer’s guide below. Making a choice may not be easy but we can at least make it an informed choice.
Reviewed – 10 Best Bow Sights
Trophy Ridge has made quite the name for themselves in the bow accessory market by offering some of the best quality products on the market. Many high-end bows com pre-outfitted with Trophy Ridge sights and other accessories. These are simply some of the best sights on the market.
With 5 stacked vertical pins with a very thin profile, you are guaranteed an unobstructed view. The small pins allow you to get a very fine bead on your target making small targets and tight groups possible. Each pin is hi-vis fiberoptic with rheostat controlled lighting for ease of aiming in low light.
All of the pins are contained in a glow in the dark ring to make indexing easy. The whole construction is made of a high strength polymer that has all of the durability of aluminum but only 75% of the weight. This easily reduced vibration while maintaining the overall integrity of the sights.
All of the adjustments to these sights are tool-less making field adjustments easy. Windage and elevation controls have a firm click control that locks the pins in position to prevent any movement you don’t want. Everything about these sights is designed for convenience and accuracy and you get plenty of both.
The vertical pin setup provides the ultimate versatility. You get all of the benefits of a traditional multi-pin sight but without the cluttered view. All of the pins are easy to see but never in the way. Once you have these sights dialed in, the accuracy you can get is unbeatable. No matter if you are a hunter or target shooter, these are simply some of the best bow sights on the market.
If you are more a fan of traditional sights with horizontal pins, the Field Logic IQ may just be the sight you are looking for. While not the best-known brand, their products have been receiving a good bit of attention recently. While the sight style may be standard, it does offer some features that are far beyond the previous iterations of traditional pin sights.
As a standard sight, there are two versions, a 3 pin and a 5 pin model. The pins themselves are thin enough to give you a clear view with some offset to allow them to sit quite close together. Fiber-optic tips provide great visibility and the possibility of adding are rheostat light to the sight can keep you shooting in the dimmest conditions.
The sight itself is made of a low weight polymer that is quite rigid and strong. It may lack the strength of aluminum but makes up for it by being more flexible and far lighter. The whole sight weighs just a few ounces.
In addition to a sight level, the feature that makes this sight unique is their patented Retina Lock system. While this may only be a simple green and black dot, using it properly will help to ensure your form is correct and there is no torque in your bow when you release. No other company offers a technology like this and for the beginning archer, this is an outstanding tool.
While this sight does not have fine tuning and uses an Allen wrench for adjustments, you still get enough versatility to make this sight work for you. The 5 pin model is recommended for most hunters who shoot 50 yards or more. While shots like that are always tricky, this sight does make the possible.
If you aren’t into any of the advanced features and want a basic set of bow sights, there are a few companies that make them. Black Gold is one of many but the bow sights they make are nearly indestructible. They may not do anything special but what they do, they do very well.
This is a basic 5 pin, thin profile sight that uses small fiberoptic tipped aluminum pins. The pins are thin enough that you can mount them appropriately to any bow’s shooting dynamics. They are fairly visible and quite durable on their own. By surrounding them with a single piece aluminum housing, the chances of breaking these sights is slim.
The 5 pins can be adjusted single or as a group for both elevation and windage. You are going to be stuck dealing with that but knowing your bow and arrows. This is a fault for these sights but using them will make you a better shooter overall. Just make sure you get plenty of practice.
With a small sight level and fluorescent ring for indexing, these are not a feature heavy sight. The intent is to provide a durable and easy to use sight system and not something fancy. Sights like this were used successfully for decades and will likely still be on the market for decades to come. They are simply that effective a design.
If you like simple and uncomplicated, these are the sights for you. They may not have bells and whistles but they do offer great accuracy and durability. The gang adjustment and clearly marked scale top off most of the list. If you can live with that, these are outstanding bow sights!
Southland Archery is a newer and quite small company that has released a line of budget bows that are quite popular with beginning archers. This sight was designed to work well with their bows but make a great bow sight for most any compound bow.
There is little extraordinary about the SAS bow sight. It is a simple design that is very similar to the bow sights that dominated the market for the past 20 years. The improvements made are all functional with little extra given to features or flair. This is just a very effective sight for those who want nothing more than an accurate shot.
With 7 steel tube pins with fiberoptic cores, this lighted traditional sight is easily visible. The steel construction makes it possible to have very thin sight bars. This maximized visibility and provides a very small point of aim. The total effect is a sight that makes hitting very small targets and really tight groups easily possible.
They have included a glowing ring on the all-aluminum housing and a small bubble level. Other than that, this bow offers little extra. Adjustments are quite easy with gang adjustments for windage and elevation when needed. The whole setup is reversible for right or left-hand use which is rare in bow sights.
If you want the best bow sights you can get that are simple and effective, the SAS sights are probably a good option. In a world of high-speed, complicated gear, it is good to see a tool that is designed to be effective more than eye-catching. Products like this are quite rare.
Single pin sights are probably the most popular style of sight on the market. They provide the maximum amount of accuracy and simplest functionality while being versatile enough for most shooters. The GWS ProHunter is a great example of a single pin sight and what they are capable of doing.
The pin, in this case, is a single steel tube with a fiber-optic core. This provides maximum strength with minimum size for aiming at small targets. You can get thin sights or some that are a hair thicker if you prefer more durability. Neither are large with the largest being less than 3/10ths of an inch.
The housing of the sight is made out of milled aluminum for maximum strength but without all of the weight. In total, this sight weighs under half a pound and is quite small if form factor. There are no wasted parts or accessories on this sight. All in all, it is a minimalist design that makes for quite accurate shots.
The single pin is easily adjusted by a throw lever for elevation and a dial for windage. Windage is controlled by a fine adjustment knob while elevation is adjusted by a throw lever design. In the spur of the moment, this may not be the fastest design to get a shot off with but the shouts you do take should be far more accurate.
If you are a hunter after the best sights possible, a vertical, single pin sight is probably the best answer for you. With a little practice, they function very well. They do require a little additional setup but that is a onetime deal. After you get the sight dialed in, you may never need to go through the whole zeroing process again.
TRUGLO has made some of the best firearms sights for years so it should come as no surprise that their bow sights are on par. As far as fit and finish go, there are no sights better. Taken as a whole, they are still some of the finest sights made today. Along with being one of the best bow sights, they are also one of the most affordable.
This traditional pin sight has 5 pins that are color coded. Most companies will only use two colors in their bow sights but TRUGLO has gone the extra mile with a tricolor sight. All of the pins are made of a carbon composite material and lined with fiber-optic filaments. The overall effect is a very visible, thin, and accurate sight.
The entire body of the sight is made of the same carbon composite material making it one of the lightest sights available at just 4 ounces. At the same time, it is quite rugged and durable. The sight ring is larger than most and very open with a great field of view. This sight is among the easiest to get on target and get solid, tight groups.
TRUGLO has made this sight with a little extra adjustment on the windage and elevation. For longer shots, there are no better bow sights. With the added level to keep you straight and very narrow pins, improved accuracy is almost guaranteed.
If you are in the market for a traditional style pin sight, the TRUGLO is the way to go every time. It can be reversed for right or left hand and comes in several colors options. The design is thoughtful and has most everything a modern hunter needs. This is a bow sight that has been created the way they should be, for the hunter.
As with the last Trophy ridge, these sights are among the industry best. All Trophy Ridge sights are designed with performance in mind and when it comes to bow sights, the single pin sight is probably the highest performing overall. For the avid hunter, this is easily among the best bow sights made.
The single pin design is already accurate. When you make it slimline with an ultra-bright fiber and rheostat light, you get that accuracy at any time of day in just about any conditions. Your eye will be constantly guided into the sight pin itself by the glowing sight bezel and indicator lines.
Made of a combination of materials from aluminum to the newest polymers, this is no doubt a durable sight. One that weighs very little while being as tough as many of the much heavier sights on the market. Even the pin was designed with strength in mind but in a way that did not compromise its slim profile.
Adjustments are tool-free and easy to do in the field. With the addition of polymer bushing on all metal surfaces, adjusting the bow is quite as well. Initial setup may take a little time but once you have all of the telemetry sorted out, this bow is a dead ringer for accuracy.
Available for either right or left and people with multiple mounting positions, this set of bow sights is easily adjustable to work for most any shooter in most any situation. If you want a great single pin sight, these are top notch and often come included in several of the more popular bow kids.
Black Gold are premium sights without a doubt and have a premium price tag. The Ascent models are at the peak of bow sight performance. These are easily some of the best bow sights you can purchase with everything you need and a lot of features that most manufacturers never even consider.
Starting with the pins, these sights are a 5 pin traditional sight with very narrow pins topped with fiberoptic cable. Rather than artificial light, Black Gold has opted to use a coil to collect light for the fiber optics. This novel approach ends up working quite well and doesn’t require batteries.
Milled from aluminum stock, these sights are durable beyond measure. In addition to the frame, the sight ring is also aluminum with an inset level. The adjustment system for both windage and elevation uses a splined gear for more control and overall ruggedness.
The most notable additional feature of this is sight is the 3rd axis adjustment that automatically tunes your bow to shoot from a deer stand. Set your angel and you should be right on target. Using this to shoot either uphill or downhill will be more accurate than any sight other than pendulum sights.
Initial sight in and zero is easy and ranging targets afterward with the completely adjustable sights is a simple task. Using preset tapes that are included with the sight, you can often get right on target when going up in range.
This sight was designed to get arrows out to 100 yards plus. While this is possible with the adjustments, it is still an amazingly difficult shot. If Black and Gold can really make a sight that will pull off shots like that consistently, we all better pay attention to them. They will be a brand to watch in the future of bow sights and archery technology in general.
For those on a budge who want a sight with very few compromises, Rocky Mountain offers just what you need. While it may not be on the rock bottom of prices, it is among the cheapest quality sights available. For the price, you get a sight that has just about everything you need.
The Rocky Mountain sight is a traditional 5 pin style sight that has steel tubes with fiber-optic filaments for easy visibility. The top mounted fiber coils provide an amazing amount of light for optimal brightness. This is a feature often offered on higher end sights when electronic lights are not a desirable feature.
When it comes to construction, the Rocky Mountain Bow Sight is milled from solid aluminum with the exception of the sight ring which is a high grade polymer. It may not be quite as bomb proof as some sights but it doesn’t need gentle care. It can easily handle the abuse of the back country in any weather or environment.
Like some other higher end sights, this sight has three axis adjustments to handle any shooting situation, even from an elevated stand. All of the adjustments are tool free and milled into the aluminum so they never get scraped away. Elevation and windage are micro adjustable for a solid zero and easy manipulation in the field.
One of the most important features of this sight is the size and weight. At only 10 ounces and a very slim design, this is one of the most streamlined sights on the market. It doesn’t add a ton of weight and will hold up quite well. It may not be the very best bow sight on the market but it is among the top. It has earned its place on this list!
All good list deserve one product that is completely over-engineered. That is the case with all HHA bow sights. In the case of the Optimizer, it is probably the best bow sight around when it comes to single pin models. If you want tuning, accuracy, and overall ruggedness, this is the bow sight you are looking for!
With a single blade-style pin, you get maximum accuracy with plenty of strength. The thin profile takes up very little of your overall view, making smaller targets easy to see. Topped with a small fiber filament that gathers light directly through the sight rings, you have no batteries to worry about but still get a bright view.
Machines out of billet aluminum with brass fittings, this sight is the utmost in strength and durability. It doesn’t care about the weather or harsh conditions, it just works. You could probably break it if you tried but under normal circumstances, it is nearly indestructible. Should something happen, it even has a lifetime warranty to back it up.
Adjustments are far more fine-tuned than any other bow sight. The oversized dial allows you to quickly adjust for range. Windage is equally easy. If you are looking to pull off some serious long shots, this is the sight to do it with.
For most people, this is more bow sight then they will ever need. That doesn’t mean it isn’t more sight than they could use. Other than the cost, there is little reason not to go with a sight like the HHA. It will absolutely do everything you need a sight to do and then some.
Available at: Amazon
Most high-end bows do not include sights when purchased. Many mid-range bow makers have partnered with companies that produce quality products but maybe not the ones you prefer. Low-end bows may shoot well enough but often have sub-par accessories that will need to be replaced. No matter which boat you are in, knowing your options and what they mean is very important to get the best bow sights for you.
There are dozens if not hundreds of options available for bow sights. Each has its own purpose and advantage and understanding these improves your chances of getting the product you want. This is your hard earned money. There may be benefits to trying a variety of sights but not if you are on a budget.
Making a purchase based on what you see as the most beneficial to you will save you money and trouble in the long run. Almost all bow sights will fit any bow, it’s just a matter of what will suit your needs best and fit within your price range. There will always be trial and error but this buyer’s guide should remove some guesswork from getting a set of bow sights.
Types of Bow Sights
Traditional Multi-Pin Sights
If you are one of those people who has shot pin sights for years, you have very little reason to change at this point. A set of pin sights can be just as accurate as any other type of sight on the market. They are far less common today than they were years ago but are still around.
Shooting with pins does take a little more practice and not just shooting for accuracy. You need to practice your range estimation and quickly decide what pin to shoot off of. The number one issue with these sights is the split-second decision required to be accurate.
Picking the wrong pin can lead to an unfilled tag a best or a severely wounded but not dead deer at the worst. Getting used to picking the correct pin and keeping your head in the game takes time. This is especially true if you are one of those people who are prone to knee-jerk reactions.
The difficulty of picking the correct pin is compounded by the number of pins you have. Most hunters seem to prefer a three pin sight. Competition shooters may go for 5 pin sights. A 7 pin sight is only useful for the finest tuning or longest shots. This is the most critical decision with pin sights.
More pins are just more complicated. You will have enough to worry about without dealing with a mess of pins. This is even truer in low-light where the color coding on the pins may not be visible. Starting out, it is highly recommended to use three pins until you are familiar with the system. Excess pins can often be removed until needed.
Pin sights generally have no method of accounting for windage. They are elevation adjustable only. You will have to learn to shoot correctly with the wind on your own. Since shots are often not very long distance, this is generally a small concern. However, every hunter knows that the worst weather seems to happen when you have a buck in your sights.
Keep it simple and practice. That is true of all sights but even more so with pin sights. You will have less to deal with to get your sights set up but more to deal with on each shot. You need to get it down to a science in your head if you want the best from this type of bow sight.
The first attempts at reticle sights were right after the introduction of the pin sight but saw little success. Those sights were not adjustable for range and proved hard to sight in. There were issues with placement and aligning the sight to the eye. All in all, they were a failure.
It took several decades to refine the sight to what we have today. Modern reticle bow sights may be the newest sights on the market but their troubled predecessors gave them plenty of time to be refined. They grow every year in popularity and have seen far more innovation than any other sight on the market.
They may have their market share but are still not quite as popular as pin sights. This will likely change over the next few years as more bow companies buy into the technology and begin packaging them with their bows. If you are more used to a rifle style sight, these are far more natural to shoot.
Their more familiar interface is their first advantage over pin sights and can be a huge one. The types of reticle differ from a dot to standard crosshair. Which one is preferred is matter of personal taste but as archery sights go, these are quite effective for those new to bows in general.
A second large benefit of the reticle sight design is the less cluttered view. Rather than having several pins in the window, you have a simple dot or cross. This gives you a fuller field of view and allows you to focus more on the target and less on what else is in the way. This should not be underestimated in your bow sight selection.
A final benefit is that most reticle sights are adjustable for both elevation and windage. This is really a two-edged sword. You will have to take the time to adjust your sights to your target or estimate the holdover. This is often negated because most hunters set up in a way that deer enter the kill zone at a rather specific range.
Once you have your reticle tuned to your bow and the arrows you are using, these sights are very good at getting the accuracy needed. Most are quite precise when set up correctly. And that brings us to the first negative. It does take more time and care to properly sight in a reticle sight.
A second negative is the time it takes to adjust but rifle shooters deal with that time as well and seem to do fine. Whether you are willing to take the time to adjust is on you and your style of hunting.
The final point against reticle style archery sights is the durability. Though it is not a universal trait, most reticle sights are somewhat less durable than pin sights. If you treat your equipment rough, these are likely not the best sight for you.
Otherwise, you should be able to buy a reticle sight and do fine. It is a technology that is worth trying at least once. They are accurate and work quite well.
Vertical Pin Sights
The sight that seems to have taken over the largest share of the market are vertical pin sights. These are best thought of as a blend between a reticle sight and standard pin sight. They offer many of the advantages of both while having fewer negatives than either.
Some sights may have a single pin and function nearly identically to a reticle sight while others may have multiple pins and function like standard pin sights. This blending makes choosing which of these styles of sights more difficult.
If you prefer a standard pin sight, having multiple pins is probably best. If you like the clear view of a reticle sight, a single pin sight may be best. Either way, you will have the ability to account for range and usually windage with these sights.
A single pin sight has range increments set up like a reticle sight. Once sighted in, you will adjust the sight to the range you intend to shoot by a dial or slider. Windage can be handled in a similar fashion. These are far more durable than a reticle sight but do the same job in the same way.
Vertical sights with multiple pins will sight in just like a traditional pin sight with individual pins for set ranges. Usually, these pins are stacked in a single line with varying heights so they are all visible. These pins do not need to be set up for range but some may have windage adjustment.
Overall what makes vertical pin sights more popular than traditional pin sights is the field of view. The single row of pins allows a better view of the target and the intended point of impact. Having a large number of horizontal pins can be hard to make a shot, especially at distance. Vertical pins have less issue with that.
The primary reason that vertical pins are more popular than reticles is a blend of tradition and durability. Pin sights have always been the go-to for archery sights and getting away from those can be difficult. Especially when a pin sight is generally more durable than a reticle sight. Other than those factors, pins are reticles are not so different.
Currently, these are the most popular bow sights and often considered the best bow sights. Most hunters use a vertical pin sight and most competition shooters tend toward them as well. If you are unsure what sight style to get, these are the best compromise for sure. You will be able to shoot accurately with little difficulty.
These are a very specific bow sight that is often very similar to a single pin sight but is mounted in a way that keeps the pin oriented properly when the bow is at an angle. This makes shooting from an elevated position like a deer stand a much more simple process.
These sights are not incredibly popular. They restrict their use to a specific type of hunting and many times hunters have killed deer on their way to and from their stand. Most hunters prefer to practice or even sight their bows in a way that allows for accurate shots from the ground or stand.
In addition to a lack of versatility, these sights have a bad reputation for being inconsistent. The sight moves by its nature and can throw people off who attempt to shoot quickly before the sight has fully settled.
All of the above said, if you shoot consistently from a stand and that is the only way you hunt, these sights will get you on target without added effort. They are the only sight type that can do what they do. They are able to take the guesswork out of a shot, just make sure you get sufficient practice with them before hitting the field.
Electronic Bow Sights
The latest technology for bow sights are red dot electronic sights that function much like the red dot sights used on rifles. These sights are expensive but were projected to take over the market for archery sights. So far this hasn’t happened but as prices go down, you can expect them to become more popular.
For the time being, it is probably best to steer clear of these types of sights. There are bugs that still need to be worked out. Partly this is in the durability of the sights. The stresses put on a sight from a bow are very different than those from a rifle. These sights lack the ability to stand up to powerful bows with a lot of shock.
As for how they work, they are not much different than a reticle sight other than the projected dot rather than a physical one. The sighting and range adjustments are nearly identical. In the end, I do believe these could be quite effective but there will be growing pains until they have everything worked out.
Bow Sight Considerations
Types of bow sights aside, there are a number of considerations that need to be made to choose an appropriate bow sight that has the qualities you need. Not every bow sight is created equally and will serve every shooter the same. Here are some of the finer details to keep in mind:
Number of Pins
With the exception of single pin sights, you will need to choose the number of pins you really need on your sight. This could be as few as three or as many as seven. This depends on the ranges you will shoot and how finely tuned you want your sights to be.
Most bowhunters tend to use sights that are spaced apart for every 10 yards. Depending on where you zero your lowest pin, you could get as far as 50 yards with this setup. This is more than sufficient for most hunters, especially in the eastern U.S.
As you move to more open terrain, some bow hunters will shoot longer distances and use pins set at the same 10-yard interval but with more pins. Those that use a 7 pin setup often have them sighted at 10 yards through 70 yards. Taking a 70-yard shot is extreme but some hunters manage it.
For competition, you may even sight your pins in at 5-yard increments. This may be overkill for most people but when you want extreme accuracy, this is how to get it. Just remember that 7 pins at 5-yard increments will only get you to 35 yards. You are probably better off to sight pins specific to the distances you normally shoot.
Decide up front how far your longest likely shots will be and pick a sight that can handle that number of pins. A common number is 5 pins sighted at various ranges. If you are interested in the usual pin range setup you can watch the movie below:
What you are looking for in a quality sight is a very small pin diameter. This is often the difference between a good set of sights and a poor set of sights. The smaller the better as long as they are stiff and strong enough to handle the conditions you shoot in.
The pins or reticle on a bow sight will need to be thin enough to allow you to see your target past the end of the pin. As you get more distance between you and the target, the smaller you will need your pins to be. For a hunter, being able to see a target that is about the size of a softball at 40 yards is usually a good goal.
This will help you keep a tighter group and get a finer tuned accuracy with every shot. Fatter pins or reticles will make getting consistently small groups nearly impossible. This can be detrimental to the competition shooter but is not optimal for the hunter or anyone else.
Though a deer has a rather large vital area, you will not always get a shot broadside to the deer. It may be at a harsh angle to you and make the overall presentation of the target much smaller. You should always check the pins against the ranges you plan to shoot to make sure they will work for you.
This is only a concern with multi-pin sights but with modern bows, it can be a big concern. A faster bow will shoot much flatter. When pen sights were invented, most bows fell well under 300fps and had significant arrow drop. Modern bows have much less drop.
Pins that are thick may not allow you to space your pins close enough together to get the range increments you want. Pins that have a thick mounting point may have a similar issue. If you know the bow you plan to put the sights on, you can often use bow data from other hunters or the manufacturer to estimate your pin spacing.
Other than thin pin sights, one other method of overcoming this is the vertical pin sight. Because the sights are stacked one behind the other and are different heights, you have much less issue with spacing. Reticle sights will have no such issue. In general, you will rarely encounter this problem until you get into premium bows. At that point, you will need a premium set of bow sights.
Older style bow sights used Allen wrenches as the sole method of adjusting sights. This meant they were often very firmly placed but could be hard to fine tune in the field if needed. If you use multi-pin sights, this may be an acceptable method of adjustment. It can be more frustrating but your pins will never have to move after the initial setup.
Reticle and single pin sights should always have a method of easily adjusting for wind and elevation. Some shooters will use a single pin that is immovable and estimate shots from that pin. This negates most of the reason for using a bow sight in the first place.
If you are looking at a single pin or reticle sight, always note how the sight adjusts and how much you are able to adjust the sight. You will need at least 30 yards of elevation and 20 yards of windage to cover most hunting scenarios.
An additional feature that you may find on higher end sights is gang adjustment. This allows you to move all of the pins at one time. This is rarely useful for elevation but can be very useful when shooting in a crosswind.
Some shooters will adjust the whole pin rack when changing arrow weight but you are probably better off re-zeroing your pins at that point. You can easily live without gang adjustment in most cases but it can make things easier for the beginner.
Everything above covers what we need our sights to be but none of that matters if we can’t see them. Every hunter knows that the best hunting is during times where the light is lower. Right at sunup or sundown is generally the time hunters are in their stands and waiting.
In less than perfect light, during the stress of the hunt, those pins can blur a little and you may not be choosing the pin you think you are. This is especially true of those that use a larger number of pins. One mistake here can mean a missed deer or one that was hurt but not killed.
At a minimum, you should have sights that are painted in bright colors with each pin a distinct color so that it can be easily differentiated from the others. This was the standard for many years and served hunters quite well. That doesn’t mean it’s the best option.
Many modern sights have gone to using fiberoptic filaments for their sights. These are thin, stand out well, and come in enough colors to make sure you have each pin different. Unless all of your shooting will be in times of decent visibility, this is the minimum I would settle for.
There are other glow in the dark technologies but none are equal to fiberoptic when it comes down to sheer visibility. The only upgrade becomes electronically lit sights. Some of these still use the fiberoptic while others have an actual backlight to make your pins more visible.
There are two concerns about electronic lighting. The first is the obvious question of can the deer see you with a light on your bow. The answer is generally no. The lights are only bright enough to see the sights and that is all.
The second question becomes how they are powered. If you have these sights, you will need to carry spare batteries to make sure they function. Not all sights take the same batteries or have the same usable lifetime.
Some will take common batteries that can be purchased at any convenience store. Others may use specific watch batteries or even specialty lithium batteries that need to be ordered. How much you are willing to go through for batteries is up to you.
Reticle sights are often set up the same way. You may have some models that have no lighting or reflectivity while others are very reflective. Most reticle sights do have a backlight. Regardless of which you choose, reticle sights are often more visible in low-light than pin sights.
That said, I would still prefer having some form of visibility enhancement on my sights. It can come in handy should you be in a darker spot than you planned.
Most sights come with some sort of level to tell you if you are canting your bow or not. Depending on how far you should tilt your bow, your point of impact can be drastically affected. The bubble level is a small consideration that can have a huge impact on your shooting.
A slight tilt is unlikely to cause much issue unless you are shooting an especially tricky shot. Its when you are in the moment and trying to angle a shot through brush or tree limbs that things can get out of hand. Having that bubble right where you are looking can save you all that trouble.
This is not a necessary inclusion in a bow sight but it can be a good thing to have. You may rarely ever need to use it but that one time you do, it can make all the difference. This should be a lesser consideration than the other points but not one that is completely neglected.
Size & Weight
Back in the 80s, some compound bows could top out at nearly 10 pounds. At that point, adding much more weight was just adding to the pain of shooting that bow. Modern bows have less of an issue with weight. Thanks to modern materials, a bow made this year can weigh less than 3 pounds. Still, you want your sights to be a manageable size and weight.
How large, complicated, and heavy a sight you are willing to deal with is on you. Lighter is always better. So is a sight that doesn’t protrude too far off the bow. You don’t want something that can easily get snagged or broken.
Most modern sights are fairly lightweight so that is less of a concern. However, some have a large profile. This can be a hindrance when carrying your bow to and from your hunting location and in storing your bow in general.
Pick a sight that goes well with your intended use. If you have ample room to store your bow and it will be used in open areas, a larger sight may be ok. If you plan to drag it through the dense brush, a smaller sight is often preferable.
Bow sights are generally made of either plastic or aluminum. There is no clear choice that is universally better. The alloy of the aluminum and specific plastic are more important factors.
Aluminum will typically be stronger. It can handle impacts better and is not much heavier for a given sized sight. This is true of aircraft grade aluminum and several other stronger alloys. Some aluminum is very weak and bends easily.
Plastics come in a wide variety of formulations. Some plastics are stronger than most aluminum alloys. Others are brittle and cheap. There are plastics that can handle a fall from a tree stand with little issue while others will break from very little force.
The best deciding factor for material is brand and price. A good brand of sight will usually be made of a premium material. They will also cost more to allow for the better materials. This doesn’t mean that you need a sight that costs hundreds to get quality. Just steer clear of sights that are unbelievably cheap unless you plan on using them very lightly.
No one has ever said that archery was an easy sport. The basics are simple to get down but when it comes to fine-tuning and getting the best results, it is quite a challenge. The learning curve can be quite steep if you don’t have someone experienced to help you.
Bow sights are a great way of eliminating one of the more challenging aspects of the sport early on. As you progress, you will find that they are ways of fine-tuning your hits. With practice, bows are capable of extreme accuracy. You will need some of the best bow sights to get the level of accuracy you and your bow are capable of.
Fundamentals and shooting posture will always be the most important facet of archery. After that, having a solid set of bow sights that are correctly dialed in will give you everything you need. Whether it is bow hunting, competition, or just for fun, you want your best performance.
Get your form right, get good bow sights on a decent bow, and practice! I have seen archery shoot quarters at 30 yards. You can get to that level if you are dedicated and have proper gear.