Types of Bow Sights

 As much as we all wish we could be Robin Hood and be able to hit the bulls-eye with every shot instinctively, the likelihood is that most of us will never have the skill nor the time to practice that much. Fortunately bow hunting fanatics have developed several types of sights so that we can have greater success at hitting that bull’s-eye.

Whether you are a novice or an avid hunter, bow sights can greatly increase your chances of taking home your game. It may also greatly reduce your tracking time ensuring that you make a clean kill shot. Bow sights come in all shapes and sizes, so the first question that comes to mind is what exactly should you be using?

Beginner and average bow hunters will probably want to start with something that fits your budget at first. The simplest sights tend to be the cheapest, but non-the-less just as effective. Simple designs will just have your basic necessities, usually a set of multicolored pins that can be arranged for different distances. Each of the these pins typically is independent allowing you to make minute adjustments without effecting your other pins. The yardage you set them for is up to you and you are limited only in how many pins you can get on your sight. Setting a simple three or four pins is usually sufficient for the average hunter. In fact, for those hunting in heavy terrain, one pin may be enough

The only other real essential on a sight is your mounting bracket. The mounting bracket is simply a plate where you will attach the sight to your bow. These are pretty generic and usually use some kind of screws for attachment. Some allow for the detaching the sights easily while others are made to be more permanent. One thing to keep in mind, while the brackets are typically universal for any bow you will want to make sure you the sight will accommodate right and left handed hunters before you make that purchase.

Now if you don’t really have a budget then there are some more sights out there for you. Certainly these are more sophisticated adding several features to help ensure the perfect shot, but they do come with a bigger price tag. There are several different types of sights, but finding one that works for you will depend on your wallet, but most importantly on what works for you. Here is a brief description of the sights most commonly used.

Fixed Pin

Fixed pin sights probably enjoy the widest use among bow hunters in one form or another. They are the simplest to setup and when used properly are very accurate. While it is a simple design of multicolored pins locked into place, it will take some work to adjust the pins for proper yardage. As always practice will help but make sure you take the time to properly set them.

As for arranging the pins for proper yardage, it really comes down to knowing your what you are most comfortable with. Most fixed pins sights allow for a number of pins to be added which gives you the availability of setting several distances, but the more pins you have the more they are likely to be a hindrance than a benefit; typically you can get away with 3 or 4 pins. Setting one pin for 20 or 25 yards is a good average and then you may want another pin for that longer shot and one for that closer shot. No matter what you set your pins for though your game is not going to be mindful of your pin settings, so you will have to learn to make adjustments for those in between shots.

Depending on how you set your pins you are going to have to learn how to compensate for all those in between shots. Using your pins as a guide, you will have to adjust your shot to fall between your pins when lining up your shot for those off yards. If you are using a 20 and a 30 yard pin and your game is 25 yards out, you will want to set your target between these two pins for a good shot. This is where all that practice is going to pay off. Learning how to gauge the distance by shooting frequently will help ensure a good shot. If you are using a few pins or only one, learning how to aim high for the longer shot and low for the closer shot will only come with practice.

Moveable Pin Sights

Moveable pin sights differ from fixed pins in that typically your moveable pin will only have one pin as opposed to the multiples you can have with fixed pins. Moveable pins are exactly what they sound like, allowing the user to adjust the pin for distance on any given shot. The distance for the shot is typically marked on a slider scale preset by the archer and you will need to adjust the sight for the proper distance for every shot. The two keys for any given shot will be properly gauging the distance and practice.

The drawback to this kind of sight is that in order to make a clean shot, you need to adjust your pin according. This can cause problems if your game is constantly moving. Having to adjust your sight constantly allows for your prey to spot your movements and it is not the most ideal thing to do when you are already at full draw. Moveable sights may be very effective for competition or 3D shooting.

Pendulum sights

If you primarily hunt form tree stands you will probably want to look into these types of sights. Pendulum sights are unique in that they offer a new dimension to your standard and moveable pin sights. This sight usually has a pin mounted on a pendulum inside the sight bracket. This pendulum gives the tree stand hunter a more accurate shot allowing for the downward angle of the bow. As the bow angle drops the pendulum swings up outside of the bracket allowing for a more precise shot.

Pendulum sights however are not the final authority in sights, however. While there is a great advantage for the tree stand hunter the pendulum sight must be carefully calibrated for proper accuracy which requires some knowledge of arrow velocity that the beginning hunter may not know. Other drawbacks concerning this type of sight are a loss of accuracy for distance shots and shots from ground level.

Target sights

Typically used for competitive archer these sights are considered the most accurate sights around, but do not come cheap. You will not likely see these in the field as their size and expense make them less practical for the average hunter. These sights are designed for use with other aiming devices (such as lasers or single pins) that can be attached to this type of sight for extreme accuracy. These types usually have settings to allow for wind and height for greater accuracy on every shot.


The mounting bracket breaks down into two categories: fixed and dovetail. Neither of these brackets really effect your shooting skill, but lend a certain amount of accessibility to your sights. Most hunters will probably prefer the fixed bracket design as there are few reasons to remove the sight once it has been setup. Dovetail brackets are secured with a fixed plate, but have a slot to slide your sight onto the fixed plate where it can be secured with some kind of screw or nut. Competition shooters may have several reasons to remove their sights or change them out. The dovetail style bracket allows for this versatility without taking excessive time by having to remove the entire bracket.