The compound bow has become a favorite tool of hunters across the nation. They are replacing even the rifle as the most popular hunting tool for deer and a variety of other species. Of course, to have the best chance of success, it helps to have a good bow and the best bow sights you can get!
There are a number of styles of sights and great examples of engineering and innovation in each type. Picking the best is not a simple matter. There are a few things you will want to consider before making a purchase.
Bow Sight Buyers Guide
If you got a mid-range bow, you likely got sights with it. A cheap compound bow or pro level bow may not come with sights. This allows you to choose what style fits your needs and expectations best. Here are some of the finer points in making your selection whether you are after your first set of sights or an upgrade to what the factory gave you.
Types of Bow Sights
There are three predominant styles of bow sights commonly in use today and a couple of styles that are not so commonly used. What style works for you will likely take some trial and error but most types of sights will work well. It just comes down to a personal preference more than effectiveness.
Pin sights are the oldest style with either 3 pin or 5 pin bow sights being the most common. These sights use a different horizontal pin for a specific range. You may have pins set at 10, 20, and 30 yards or whatever you need. These sights have been used for decades and are quite effective.
Vertical pin sights are a new rendition of the older model sights. These sights have a single pin that uses adjustments to account for different ranges. Often these are easily adjustable using a very fast slide or dial to account for range. These have become the most popular bow hunting sight for most modern bows.
Reticle sights are very much like a rifle sight. They have an adjustable crosshair or dot that works much like a non-magnified scope. When it comes to sights for bow hunting, these are the new kid on the block but are quickly becoming quite popular. They are easily adjustable just like vertical pin sights and can be very accurate.
The two additional sights are the pendulum sight and the electronic red-dot sight. Pendulum sights are a specialist sight used to hunt from stands that help with shooting angles. Red-dot sights work much like reticle sights but have a suspended red dot. At this moment, these sights are iffy and have trouble handling the shock of a modern bow.
Number of Pins
When it comes to compound bow sights, standard pin sights are the most common. If you choose these sights, you will need to select the number of pins you want to use. The most common are 3 or 5 pin but 7 pin and even more are possible.
The more pins you get, the more complicated your sight picture and the more likely a mistake in selecting the correct pin at the correct time. Fewer pins are often more; 5 pins are sufficient to get shots out to 60 yards or more. Very few bow hunters, even with the best bowhunting equipment, take shots farther than that.
If you do decide on more pins, make sure you rehearse your shots and get used to the ranges. Otherwise, you are likely to pick the incorrect pin when the time comes to make the shot that counts. Stress has that effect on people.
Pin Size and Spacing
Another factor of pin sights is the size and spacing of the pins. Get this incorrect and you could run into issues with being able to see targets through your sights. This is more common with pin sights that use a large number of pins.
Bow hunting, especially if you are shooting distant shots, is a game of small targets. If your pins are a large diameter, they can obscure the target you are aiming for. This can be catastrophic if you are shooting at a longer range.
Pin spacing is similar but can manage to completely hide a target if you use a large number of pins. This combined with pins of a large diameter can ruin any chances of getting a shot at anything. Optimal pin size is less than .02 inches.
All sights are adjustable, it just matters how. Pin sights are adjusted and set for ranges as a part of your bow hunting preparation. Reticle and vertical pin sights are adjustable for elevation and windage via a dial. You will also configure this when sighting in your bow.
At a minimum, you want elevation adjustment on any sight you get. If you are shooting shorter distances, windage adjustment isn’t as important but having it is better than not. Even some multi-pin sights have windage adjustment though it's often harder to use.
Another aspect of adjustment is how easily the sights adjust. If you are forced to use an Allen wrench to adjust your sights, they aren’t field-expedient. Sights should have some form of dial or lever adjustment to make things easy when you need it.
Most sights have a level and it is a vital part of any sight intended for compound hunting bows. In order for sights to be accurate, they need to be mostly level left to right. A bubble level in your sight picture helps ensure you are not throwing your shots off by shooting at a bad angle.
Unless you are very familiar with the feel of your bow and can instinctually tell if its level, get a sight with a bubble. You will in no way regret having it. It may be the difference between a miss and a kill. Or worse a bad hit that leaves the animal wounded.
Top 5 Best Bow Sight - Comparison Table
Windage & Elevation
Windage & Elevation
Windage & Elevation
Best Bow Sight Reviews
1 HHA DS-5019 Optimizer Lite
If anything, HHA has made their optimizer line of sights to be the most durable and robust on the planet. Even the Optimizer lite is tough as nails and that’s just for starters. Along with a great choice of materials, the sight is among the most accurate and advanced you can get.
The single pin is adjustable for both windage and elevation by use of a fine, gear-controlled knob. The pin is incredibly thin but engineered to be tough as nails for a maximum of accuracy on even small targets. To make it visible, it is topped with a mono-fiber filament that gathers light through the sight ring.
The adjustments on this sight are more fine-tuned the normal run of bow sights. The gear controls allow you to dial into the smallest degree of accuracy. For hunting, you will never likely need this but that doesn’t mean you don’t want it. If you shoot longer ranges, this is the sight for you.
2 TRUGLO Range-Rover PRO
When you take one of the industry leaders in high visibility gun sights started in the archery sight market, you know good and novel products are in the works. One that stands out more than most is the TRUGLO series of reticle sights.
Available in a single dot or two dot model for quick range adjustment, no one is making a sight quite like this. The ambient lighted fil with the suspended crosshair is an incredible platform for accuracy. And with the thin lines, you can be sure it will never obscure your target.
The material selection process that TRUGLO uses has led to some of the toughest sights on the market. It doesn’t matter if its for a rifle or a bow, TRUGLO wants products that stand the test of time and can handle abuse. The full poly frame is the perfect blend of strength and low weight that reflects the quality of this sight.
The machining is very precise and the additional features are very well thought out. Adjustment is geared for a secure range setting and smooth and easy windage and elevation control. Everything can be locked down when no adjustment is needed. All you have to do is set it and forget it.
While they have not made as big a splash in the archery market as some of the more well-known brands, TRUGLO is a company to watch. All of their sights are superb quality but their recital sights are the ones to keep an eye on most. They are likely to dominate the market.
3 Field Logic IQ Micro 3
Chances are if you are an avid archer, you have heard of Field Logic. They have applied their quality craftsmanship to a number of archery related products to great effect. The IQ line of sights is another mark on their list of great gear.
If you are in the market for a traditional 3 or 5 pin sight, you can get either but the 3 pin is likely the more popular in this case. Each pin is very slim and offset to keep your sight picture clear while being topped with fiber optic for visibility. You can even add an additional light to improve visibility when needed.
In normal operations, the window on top of the sight serves as a collection point of the light feeding the fiberoptic. This is a novel approach that is highly useful and very successful in making a more efficient sight. This is one of those features that has kept Field Logic as a top brand.
The entire sight is a super-strong, lightweight polymer. While it may fall a little short of aluminum in strength, you aren’t likely to notice. What you will notice is a drastic reduction in weight that comes from premium materials. This helps keep your bow balanced and manageable, no matter how long you hunt.
What Field Logic has done that no other company has managed is their patented Retina Lock System. IT may not seem like much with its simple dot layout but when used correctly, it draws the eye straight to the sight pin. This increases both shooting speed and accuracy without adding any complicated mechanics. You can only get this through Field Logic with their IQ series.
4 Trophy Ridge Pursuit
If there is a company known for producing consistently high-quality products, its Trophy Ridge. Their accessories, including bow sights, are well regarded as being some of the best made. If you are an avid hunter, your bow deserves some Trophy Ridge equipment and these sights are a great place to start.
With a single pin that is both slim and highly visible, this sight is inherently accurate. In daylight, the fiberoptic gathers light naturally but in heavy cover or near darkness, a rheostat controlled light provides the perfect level of visibility. Even the bezel glows to align your eye to the correct spot quickly and naturally.
All of the adjustments are tool-free and use a single lever and dial design. It may take some time to get everything set at the front end but you will reap the accuracy benefits in the field. As a clever bit of forethought, all of the metal parts used for adjustment are buffered with a polymer bushing to make everything as smooth and quiet as possible.
Most of this sight is made of polymer to keep it light but the important structural and mechanical pieces are machined out of billet aluminum. The overall effect is a sight that weighs little but maintains the strength of much heavier sights.
In the end, you get a sight that is incredibly accurate, very durable, and among the best on the market. More affordable than most sights of this quality, Trophy ridge has done an exceptional job again. If you are on a budget, this may be a great choice!
5 Trophy Ridge Joker
Usually, when you start looking at budget products, you have to consider what you are giving up saving money. If you choose the Joker, you won’t be giving up much. When it comes to decent bow sights, they don’t get smaller, lighter, or more affordable. Even the cheap knock-offs cost more than this quality sight.
Like any Trophy Ridge sight, materials and quality are of utmost importance. The poly frame with aluminum in the stress areas is a great blend of strength and low weight. Even the pins are made to be as unbreakable as they can be.
Speaking of the pins, they are very thing to make target acquisition easy and accurate. The fiberoptic accents make them visible and easy to reference. With the addition of a glow ring, the whole effect is a sight that offers super-fast targeting and amazing accuracy.
This sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. All adjustments are tool-free and quick to access, making the process smooth. It may not be as refined as some higher end sights but the beauty of a pin sight is how forgiving they can be.
When money is tight, this is as good as it can get. You will never find a better sight. You can get a 3 or 4 pin version that is ambidextrous. It may take a little time to get this sight up and running but there is always a price to pay when you are saving so much!
There are some hunters who opt not to use sights but they are often far less successful than those who embrace modern technology. If you want to up your archery and bowhunting game, this is where it starts. You will never regret having a great set of sights. If your bow didn’t come with them, you need to add them. If it did, consider an upgrade before you go through the tedious process of sighting in.