The sight you choose can make the critical difference in a hunting situation. Will it be bright enough in low light, too bright at a critical time, confusing when estimating range, or fail at a time of great excitement? Since everyone’s sight and physical abilities are different, archers should look for the sight that best matches their hunting experience and abilities. For example, I hunted in South Africa where a single-pin tritium (self-illuminating) sight was ideal for the dark environment of a waterhole blind. Later that year, I chose an IQ seven-pin sight for pronghorn antelope in Montana, where shots to 60 yards and beyond were expected. I have friends who swear by single-pin sights with dialed range like the HHA Optimizer, popular with 3-D and target archers. Here’s a look at the benefits of each sight and which may make the difference for you at the moment of truth.
Vision, clarity, and accuracy are critical to any sight system, and all three must be present for bowhunting success. Most bowhunting sights are essentially “front” sights, to use the firearms comparison, with the rear sight usually a circular aperture or peep on the bowstring. For hunting purposes this sight must be large enough to see the entire animal and function in low light conditions. For target shooting, a small peep and a small diameter sight pin benefit accuracy; unfortunately, this combination usually makes for a poor hunting setup.
The most functional bowhunting sight includes a large peep and a circular pin housing such that the housing makes a concentric circle inside the circular view through the peep sight. Lining up concentric circles may seem a throwback to geometry class in high school, yet the brain does it automatically. The same for a single pin. Your mind’s eye will place the pin in the middle of the sight housing, which will automatically center inside the image seen through the peep. You should also experiment with pin color and brightness. Green dots work well for some archers, while red or yellow may be more visible to others. Tiny diameter target pins aren’t necessary for hunting applications and are more difficult to see. Many sights include a bubble level at the base of the sight housing so that the bow is shot vertically each time. Finally, the further the distance between the peep sight and the front sight, the more precise the aiming process. Target archers often have sights that extend well in front of the riser, a setting that provides increased consistency, yet extended sights can easily be damaged as hunters pull bows up trees and push through undergrowth. With these points in mind, check out examples of various hunting sights.
HHA Optimizer: This sight features a round pin housing ringed in green for high visibility and a single pin power by three feet of light-gathering fiber optics. Range is altered by turning a dial that adjusts a fulcrum attached to the sight housing. Shoot the bow in at 20 yards and mark the circular wheel in five-yard increments to your maximum shot distance. The singular sight pin eliminates sight pin confusion and aids concentration. www.hhasports.com
IQ Bowsight: This multi-pin sight features a large pin housing with sufficient room for six or more fiber optic pins and is ideal for archers who may be taking longer shots out West or in open terrain. The sight has a level at the base of the pin housing and takes torque management one step further. A round, green field is set at the top of the sight housing with a small black dot that moves as the bow is torqued (turned). By using the concentric circle principle, you are assured of a consistent grip on the bow every time, a process that quickly becomes automatic with practice. www.iqbowsight.com
TRUGLO TSX Series Tool-Less: Adjust-ability is a determinant of price, and often this feature may double the cost of a sight with traditional Allen wrench adjustments. This sight, from a leader in fiber optic technology, features tool-less design, which makes adjustments in the field much simpler. Other features include a rheostat light to reduce unwanted pin glare, glow-in-the-dark pin housing, and a level illuminated by luminescent tape. www.truglosights.com
Trophy Ridge: This sight is unique because it features vertical sight pins so that less of an animal is obstructed when compared to typical horizontal pins. The pins are .19 inches in diameter and illuminated by fiber optics. The sight has a bubble level and “third axis” adjustment, a function that allows the sight to be adjusted toward or away from the riser so that your sight picture is perfectly perpendicular to your vision. www.trophyridge.com
AimPoint: For hunters who have difficulty with a peep sight or simply choose not to use one, a red dot sight, such as manufactured by AimPoint is an excellent choice. This sight is military grade and more expensive than most of the above sights, yet the brightness of the red dot is adjustable, the battery will last for six years in the “on” position (No battery worries here) and parallax free. This later feature is very significant since the red dot is on target whether it is in the center of the scope or not. If you can see the target and the red dot is on it, that’s where your arrow will strike. Depending on your draw weight, you can sight the red dot at 25 yards and compensate by aiming higher at longer ranges. www.aimpoint.com