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Hunting Hogs with a Red Dot Sight
by Brad Fitzpatrick

Typical destruction caused by a sounder of hogs digging for roots, bulbs, and bugs

Texas has a pig problem. The state has been plagued for decades with an ever-increasing feral hog population (now estimated at over two million animals) and biologists claim that to stabilize the population sixty-six percent of the feral hog population in Texas would have to be harvested. Each year the damage to crops and property inflicted by pigs in the Lone Star state runs in the millions of dollars.

Think if you don’t live in Texas you’re safe from this creeping tide of invasive hogs? Think again. There are feral hog populations in 39 states and the national population estimate is around six million animals. If there aren’t pigs in your back yard today then you might want to check again tomorrow.

There aren’t a lot of silver linings in the pig population explosion, but if you are a hunter then there are great opportunities to hunt pigs in places like Texas or elsewhere where wild hog populations are growing and causing conflicts with humans and native wildlife. Pig hunts are usually very inexpensive and bag limits and season date restrictions are quite liberal. Plus, they provide great lean meat and you can fill your freezer quickly on a single successful hunt. 

More and more hunting products are being designed with hog hunters in mind, and optics are a key consideration when designing your perfect pig hunting rig. Sure, you can hunt pigs with your favorite scoped deer rifle, but high magnification is not always the best option when hunting feral hogs. Oftentimes you’ll find yourself in the midst of a sounder (group) or pigs at relatively close range, and with multiple shot opportunities you’ll need an optic that offers a wide field of view, a clear aiming point and is designed to allow you to take running shots if needed. I’ve hunted pigs in rice fields, in dense semi-arid thorn country, and in driven situations in forests—all very different habitats. But one type of optic works perfectly in all these situations—a robust red dot sight.

One of the best options in this category is TRUGLO’s TRU-TEC 20mm Red Dot sight. For starters, it offers a 20mm objective lens and a 2mm dot, a great setup for hunting with ARs, bolt guns, shotguns, and a variety of other weapons. With unlimited eye relief and a wide field of view you get a clear sight picture for rapid both-eyes-open shooting. In situations where you are taking multiple shots in a hurry this is a great benefit because you can transition from target to target more quickly, maximizing every opportunity that arises to take multiple hogs from a single sounder. Pigs are frequently taken at close range; I’d guess that of all the hogs I’ve taken while still hunting or in stands roughly three-quarters of the shots I’ve taken were at close range in dense cover with multiple shot opportunities. In those situations, the TRU-TEC’s bright red dot allows for maximum awareness and rapid target transition.

The TRUGLO optic’s design is very versatile, and while it lends itself perfectly to those close-quarters shots that are so common you can also stretch your range out effectively to a hundred yards or more. Having a 2 MOA dot gives the TRU-TEC a major advantage because the dot is large enough for rapid shots at running hogs  up close but it is also small enough for more precise long-range shooting as well. With the TRU-TEC’s red dot design you also have a huge advantage when hunting at last light since you won’t lose a blackened reticle. Smart old boars have learned that it’s much safer to forage at dawn, dusk, or during the night, and since you can hunt pigs legally around the clock in many areas there are fewer restrictions on shooting hours (although, of course, you must always make absolutely certain of your target). On hunts in both Texas and Oklahoma I had really large boars appear just on the edge of darkness, and a dark reticle can become lost on a dark pig in low light, especially if the shot is rather long. Not so with a red dot. The type of versatility that the TRU-TEC 20mm offers hunters is a big reason that this is an ideal hog hunting optics. If the pigs are close and there are several animals you have a non-magnified optic with a clear aiming point for making multiple shots and there are few better options when you are shooting at a running target. But if that big boar hog slips out at longer range on the edge of darkness you’ve still got an optic that’s up to the task. Having that level of flexibility is vital in a hog hunting optic.

The TRU-TEC’s robust and user-friendly design is also of great benefit when pursuing feral pigs.

TRU•TEC 20mm

There’s an integrated Weaver/Picatinny-style mounting rail included that allows you to quickly and securely affix the optic to your rifle (or switch between rifles, if you choose) and since TRUGLO offers both a low and high mount option with each TRU-TEC sight purchased you can be guaranteed proper eye alignment. A host of other user-friendly features also make this an appealing hog hunting optic. Digital push-button controls with multiple brightness settings allow you to quickly configure the optic as needed for the ambient light conditions, and the auto-on/auto-off feature helps preserve battery life. Speaking of batteries, the TRU-TEC runs on one included 3V-CR2032 battery that has a long life. And if you eventually run that battery down over time it’s easy and affordable to replace. Simple-to-use click windage and elevation adjustments are precise and they allow you to zero your rifle quickly and maintain a constant zero. In addition, the parallax-free design means your eye doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned with the optic for maximum accuracy.

TRU•TEC 20mm Mounted on an AR-15 for Hog Hunting

Hogs prefer the safety of very rough cover (especially during daylight hours) so you must choose an optic that is robust and built to stand up to some very harsh elements. The TRU-TEC’s design is waterproof and shockproof and is shock resistant to 1000g. Odds are you won’t need that type of protection against the elements, but it’s certainly nice to know that the optic you are running on your hog gun is durable enough to stand up to the worst conditions. Dense brush can also take a toll on larger optics, and they add unnecessary weight to your rifle. The lightweight, compact TRU-TEC slips through dense cover and doesn’t add a lot of bulk. And with an MSRP of $221 the TRU-TEC 20mm is also one of the most affordable optics that offers this level of performance.

Hog numbers are rising and it’s time for hunters to step in and help control populations. To do so, you’ll need the right weapon with the right optic, and the TRU-TEC from TRUGLO is a versatile, functional, affordable choice. Setting up a hog gun with this sight allows you to extend your hunting season and increase your odds of success. Just make sure that you have plenty of room in the freezer. www.truglo.com

Pheasant Hunting with the Fat•Bead
by Brad Fenson

One of the best things I ever did to improve my wing shooting ability was to take a lesson from OSP Shooting School gurus, Gil and Vicki Ash. The experience turned me from an average shooter into one that pheasants fear.

Keep your head up, both eyes open, watch the target, and know where the end of your shotgun is as you swing it, and keep swinging it. One of the biggest mistakes we make as shotgun enthusiasts is trying to aim a shotgun when it needs to be pointed. The end of your shotgun and bead are a guide but aren’t meant to be your focus point. There are lots of things you can do to help keep the bead in your peripheral vision, as we all know we need to be watching the target.

A larger bead is easy to keep track of and the brighter it is, the more likely you’ll see it under varying light conditions. A TRUGLO Fat Bead could be the difference in you bringing home a limit of birds, or carting a shooting vest full of empty hulls.

A Fat Bead or Fat Bead Universal come in different models to attach to your shotgun. There are distinct size mounting screws to accommodate most shotguns. The large diameter bead has a fiber optic that is .100 inches and stands out like a colorful rooster. The fiber used in the bead is 0.5 inches long, meaning it can gather and emit lots of light and brightness. The fat, bright sight makes your shotgun easier to track while you’re watching birds fly.

Pheasants can be tricky fowl to hit on the wing. They usually rocket straight up out of cover, level off for a brief second, then jet away at breakneck speed. If you can catch them on the momentary pause between leveling off and heading for safer ground, you can usually collect more birds.

Pheasants are masters at using the wind and they often flush into the breeze, turn quickly, and use the Jetstream to carry them away as quick as possible. A crossing shot, on a fast target in the wind, is hard to hit. You need to concentrate on the speed of the bird and keep your gun barrel swinging at the same speed. The old saying, “back, belly, beak—bang!” often describes the swift swing of a trusty smoothbore to anchor your target.

If you have any vision issues or suffer from eyes that are aging, the Fat Bead just might be the quick fix to make you look like an all-star again. It is ideal for a replacement, or a repair, to existing shotgun bead. Whether you enjoy shooting clay targets, upland game birds, or waterfowl, a more visible shotgun bead could help you out. The fiber optics come in green or red and are available in several sizes and diameters. The Fat Bead can only be installed on a shotgun barrel with a ventilated, or solid rib design.

Deer Hunting with Shotgun Slugs
By Brad Fenson

The brisk, frigid wind bit at the exposed skin on my face, but I dare not move. I was waiting on a big whitetail buck to travel along the edge of a wetland and knew movement would mean he’d never expose himself. I’d been hunting the same buck for weeks and thought I finally had him patterned. The minutes turned to hours and just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to stand the cold another second a flash of brown fur caught my eye. It was a deer!

I had to keep my wits about me and not give away my location until it was time to shoot. I could see antlers dancing through tree limbs and knew it was the buck I wanted. Just as he had done several late mornings, the buck trotted out of the tree cover to take a shortcut along the wetland. I stood frozen behind a large aspen tree just 40 yards from where the deer would pass. I slowly started wiggling my mitt off my trigger hand, letting it fall to the ground as I shouldered my shotgun and sent a 12-gauge slug into the vitals of the old buck. I quickly pumped the gun and put a second shot into the deer for assurance.

There was no ground shrinkage on the deer. It was the biggest white-tailed buck I had ever taken and still stands as my largest buck to date. I was hunting an area where slug guns were the firearm of choice. I didn’t feel as though I was at a disadvantage. In fact, having a slug gun likely helped me connect at close range, while the deer was moving. All I remember is the deer turning his head to look in my direction when I dropped my mitt, and boom, it was over.

With the extra seasons and opportunities afforded to slug hunters, I’m not sure why more people haven’t embraced them? It is easy to set up an existing shotgun that is normally used for bird hunting, and prepare it to become your favorite deer slayer. TRUGLO Pro Series Slug Gun sights mount to the rib of any shotgun. There aren’t any magnets or tape, and the sights are properly secured with screws to withstand recoil and heavy hunting rigors.

All-steel construction makes the sights as durable as any shotgun, and once they are mounted, you can adjust the windage and elevation to have your shotgun punching clover leaves on paper. In TRUGLO fashion, the sights have fiber optics to make them bright and easy to see. The dovetail sight makes it easy to settle the front sight for repeatable accuracy. The front sight diameter is .029 inches, and the rear diameter is .035inches.

There are four different models to cover a wide range of shotguns. The only requirement is that your gun has a ventilated, or fixed rib to attach the sights. An Allen key tightens the screws and sights in place for sturdy reliability.

If you’re considering deer hunting with slugs, you should try a Pro Series Slug Gun sight. Chances are you might leave your favorite smoothbore set up for deer season and find a different one to cover your bird interests.

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TRUGLO, A Broadhead For Every Need
By Patrick Meitin

By now most serious bowhunters have heard of TRUGLO’s new lineup of Titanium X Broadheads. These remarkable broadheads were designed with input from Bruce Barrie of past Rocky Mountain Broadhead fame, milled from Grade 5 titanium to include TRU-CUT cut-on-contact tips and holding stainless steel TRU-THRU .031-inch-thick, precision-sharpened blades. Titanium provides the strength of steel with the weight of aluminum—in other words, the best of both worlds. The TRU-CUT tip assures deeper penetration and bone-splitting performance. TRU-THRU blades includes spooky sharpness needed for superior penetration and fast kills on the toughest big game. All are spin and sharpness tested for assured field-point flight and devastating results on game. Each model comes in three packs with free broadhead wrench.

There are six models included in this new lineup, each filling an important niche in the bowhunting program. So let’s take this opportunity to investigate the inherent advantages of each design and where they best fit into your bowhunting pursuits.

Whitetail Ideal

White-tailed deer, especially tough old bucks, have a tenacity for life reviling a desert shrub. They’re also regularly hunted in thronged vegetation which complicates tracking efforts. The new standard in whitetail coverts has become a wide-cutting mechanical design, providing pin-point accuracy during the most demanding shots, and opening a world of hurt and blood-spilling wound channels which result in faster kills and blood trails that are much easier to follow under demanding conditions.

For whitetails taken with average equipment (according to most bow manufacturers I talk with, this means 65 pounds at 29 inches, or 65#@29”), it’s pretty tough to beat TRUGLO’s Titanium X 2-blade mechanical. It includes a solid-titanium ferrule like the rest, including TRU-CUT tip to start penetration off right. The two scissoring blades include a torque-balancing design that start cutting instantly on impact, self adjusting to push around bone without shedding energy (which also means it’s impossible for blades to open in flight), opening to a full 2 3/16-inch cutting diameter through soft tissue to inflict maximum damage. The blades remain folded flat against the ferrule in flight for superior accuracy, a design feature making them welcomed for archers who invest the time and effort required to become long-range proficient.

For those shooting energy above the national average (like my own standard 70#@30”) the Titanium X 4-blade offers yet more devastating, cross-cutting action. The 4-blade model works on the same principle as the 2-blade but inflicts twice as much damage. The cutting TRU-CUT starts penetration out right, opening to 1 ¾ inches to spill copious amounts of blood.

BIG Big Game

Mechanicals will certainly get the job done on the largest big game, like elk and moose, but I choose to prepare for real-world, worst-case scenarios, like the substantial bone comprising an elk’s shoulder. When game is larger than 250-pound Midwest whitetails, I turn to fixed-blade broadheads. TRUGLO has you covered there as well, including Titanium X 3- and 4-blade versions.

The TRUGLO Titanium X 3-blade includes an industry-standard 1 3/16-inch cutting diameter. This is a cutting diameter offering an ideal balance of easy tuning from today’s fastest compound bows, but also enough cutting diameter to produce ample trailing blood. With its blade-aligned TRU-CUT cut-on-contact tip and TRU-THRU sharp blades these heads slick through game like butter.

I’m also intrigued by the Titanium X 4-blade because it mirrors lines of the traditional broadheads I started bowhunting with, but with replaceable main and crosscutting bleeder blades. The TRU-CUT tip streamlines right into cutting edges to enhance penetration. It includes 1 3/16-inch cutting diameter. It’s a head that would give me utmost confidence while chasing bugling bull elk.

These fixed designs also make excellent options for smaller or weaker bowhunters—women, youth or elderly shooters with achy joints—while shooting average game such as whitetails.

Crossbow Ready 

TRUGLO didn’t forget the crossbow enthusiast while designing the Titanium X line. Crossbow-specific models include a 1 ¾-inch-wide 4-blade mechanical and 1 3/16 4-blade mimicking vertical-bow design, but including larger-diameter ferrules to better match larger-diameter crossbow bolts. Modern crossbows give you energy to burn, making the 4-blade mechanical ideally suited for blasting through any sized game, even at extreme ranges. The 4-blade fixed is perfect in states where mechanical designs aren’t yet legal, or for added insurance when hunting the largest big game at extended ranges.

Average, he-man or limited kinetic energy vertical bow shooters, or crossbow aficionados; TRUGLO has your broadhead needs covered with the new Titanium X series!

The Perfect Release … For You
By Aaron Carter

Are you in the market for a mechanical release? Here’s what you need to know to make an informed purchase.

For many archers, abundant consideration goes into selecting a seamless bow setup; however, seldom is much emphasis placed on a component that’s essential for extracting the utmost performance from the aforementioned outfit—the release. To attain top-notch accuracy with any bow requires a clean, consistent discharge of the arrow, and on a high-performance compound bow, employing a mechanical release is the best method to achieve such. With so many styles from which to choose, how do you know which release is the best for you? Read on.

Hunting Releases

BOA archery releas strap

TRUGLO’s release strap with BOA™ lock-up system. Available as a replacement strap, or with several different types of releases.

Of the releases utilized by archery hunters, the overwhelming majority falls within the index finger- and thumb-activated categories, with the former being the most popular—for good reason. Why? Typically, index finger-activated releases have an attachment system consisting of hook-and-loop fasteners, buckles, or some combination of the two. TRUGLO’s unique and user-friendly BOA closure system (available separately to upgrade your current connection system, too), that affixes it to the archer’s wrist, keeping it nearby and ready at all times. This is obviously an important consideration when hunting. As the release is secured to the archer, it cannot be dropped from a tree stand. Unlike a handheld release, which the fingers must hold during and after the draw, the wrist strap of an index finger-activated release places the drawing burden on the wrist.

As a class, index finger-activated-releases are quick and easy to attach to the bowstring—even in low-light conditions. Considering that most trophy-class animals appear suddenly and in diminished light, this is significant.

TRUGLO Nitrus Caliper-style Release

Index finger-activated releases use one or two jaws to attach directly to the bowstring (not suggested), D-loop, or metal nocking loop and, true to their name, are activated by the index or “trigger” finger. Archers who hunt with also firearms will find their operation instinctual and comforting; there’s nothing new to learn. And, like firearms, high-quality models—such as TRUGLO’s Nitrus —have a trigger that’s customizable for both sensitivity and travel. Additionally, these releases enable the user to shorten or lengthen the release head. Due to their numerous benefits, as well as myriad makes and price points, index finger-activated- (wrist-style) releases are the best choice for most hunters—especially new archers, those with compromised strength, and hunters who don’t practice sufficiently to master a target-style release.

Some archery hunters use thumb-activated releases which have features found on index finger-activated and target-style releases. Most thumb-activated releases are handheld—like tension/hinge- and resistance-activated “target” models. For the archer, this means back, shoulder, and arm muscles are used during the draw cycle, finger strength is still needed to hold the release. The string, which is held by a loop or jaw, is released by pressing the trigger with the thumb. It takes some practice to get used to—especially for firearm hunters. However, after sustained use most archers tend to stick with thumb releases.

Except for models featuring a wrist strap or lanyard, or are retrofitted with one, thumb-activated releases need to be attached to the bowstring (and thus left dangling) or placed in a coat or vest pocket. As such, there exists a risk of inadvertently dropping it from a tree stand, or not having it immediately accessible when needed. But, the benefit is that there’s nothing attached to one’s person for lengthy periods, which can also clang on the side of a tree stand. Price-wise, most thumb-activated releases are typically more expensive than index finger-activated releases.

 

Target-Type Releases

Typically utilized in competition, a small segment of archers are now using back-tension/hinge- and resistance-activated releases for hunting. Attached to the bowstring, D-loop, or metal nocking loop in a manner identical to other releases, these finger-held variants don’t have a “trigger”.  As the name suggests, the back-tension-activated release is activated after the bow is drawn and the back muscles are tightened (i.e. shoulder blades cinched), which causes the hand and release to naturally rotate. The rotation permits the string to free itself in a surprise manner—similar to that of a surprise break of a lightweight rifle trigger—so that one cannot flinch. Resistance-activated releases, on the other hand, fire from a build up of pressure and not rotation of the hand, or as Carter Enterprises explains, “pulling through an amount of poundage greater than your holding weight.” There’s now a new generation of mechanical releases that combine both release options of thumb- and resistance-activated releases, all in one model. Because of the nature of their operation, target-style releases require considerable practice to perfect, and even then they’re not the best choices for hunting because of the amount of movement associated with the sport—especially from an elevated position on a tiny platform, and where proper form is hard to achieve. All it would take for a poor shot would be to unconsciously make a wrong movement. Some hinge-type models have a click feature that signals to the user that it’s ready to fire; however, this wouldn’t be a good idea for hunting, as it could inadvertently alert game animals, too. As these releases are intended for competition, user adjustability is guaranteed; however, finding the perfect setting takes time and practice. As for other benefits and detractions, those of these release types are similar to thumb-activated releases.

 

In the end, the release that’s best suited for you will depend on a host of considerations, many of which were mentioned within this article. Once you’ve considered these, the choice will be clear. For me it’s the TRUGLO Detonator index finger-activated release. How about you?

Shotgun Slug Hunting, Sighting Options
By Joe Byers

Livingstone Eland

Livingstone Eland

Shotgun slug technology has come a long way in recent years such that 100-yard shots are a certainty with a quality sight and solid rest.  Slug guns have tremendous knockdown power, penetration, and lethality.  A fellow recently took a slug gun to Africa on a plains game safari and took a Livingstone eland at 75 yards with a single shot.  Despite a chest nearly two feet thick the copper slug stopped just under the skin of the far shoulder.  The beast ran 50 yards and crashed.   Although many states mandate shotguns due to the flat nature of terrain or urban development, you need not feel handicapped by those laws.  Test your shotgun to see which brand of slug works best and top your buck-buster with one of these three sighting options.  Adding a more precise sighting system to a shotgun will likely increase the effectiveness at distance. As they say in the military, “aim small, hit small.”

TRUGLO PRO•SERIES Slug Gun Sights

TRUGLO PRO•SERIES Slug Gun Sights

Open sight fans will love the TRUGLO Pro Series Slug Gun sights that keep your cheek on the stock and provide a precise aim, even on moving game.  Sight down the barrel and you’ll see how naturally the red front dot fits between the two green dots of the rear sight.  Line up the three dots and you get a precise shot every time.  The added light grabbing ability of the fiber-optics work well in low light or inclement weather when traditional iron sights can be fuzzy and difficult to see.  This is especially valuable for hunting deer or other game where shots typically occur close to dawn or dusk. The sights mount easily and solidly—attaching to any shotgun rib. The rear sight allows for vertical and windage adjustments.  They are made of steel to take tough punishment and require no magnets or tape to mount.

TRU•TEC 20mm Red Dot sight with included low mounting base

Reflex or “Red Dot” optics are an excellent slug gun choice well suited for running shots and for shooters who are recoil sensitive.   A red dot optic can’t reduce recoil, yet because of the unlimited eye relief you are virtually guaranteed it won’t put a ring above your eye.   If you hunt deer by driving, you’ll rarely get a standing, broadside sight picture and here’s where that single aiming dot really shines, no pun intended.  You get a simple sight pictured that can be aimed quickly and easily. For example, the new Tru•Tec 20mm sight provides a sharp 2-MOA dot with variable intensity so that it shows equally in bright sunshine or at the end of shooting light.  It features ultra-long battery life, is shockproof and waterproof making it the perfect match for bad weather when the hunting can be best.  Red dot optics are a frequent option for AR and tactical carbine shooters, but are every bit as practical for shotguns. The Tru•Tec identifies well with both audiences and comes with two different mounts (high and low) to match your shooting style.  Finally, if you’ve ever seen a buck you couldn’t find in your scope, the ultra-wide field of view of this optic solves that for good.  Best of all, red dot sights allow you to shoot with both eyes open and that red dot won’t get mixed in with leaves or tree trunks, important attributes that inevitably make aiming your shotgun quite a bit faster. You’ll be amazed how effective you can become at normal shotgun ranges of 20-80 yards.

Traditional scope lovers will relish the Tru•Brite 30 Hunter configured like a standard rifle scope that offers 1-4x magnification in a 30mm tube for increased brightness.  This optic offers nearly four inches of eye relief and an extremely field of view when turned down to 1x.  If you hunt in a region with point restrictions, the four-power option can quickly tell you if a buck is legal without affecting accuracy.  4x magnification has been a common and practical choice on rifle optics for decades. Being able to quickly zoom between 1x and 4x provides the advantages of speed and accuracy. Although designed as a slug gun scope, the same optic can easily double on your turkey shotgun or other models for varmints or wild hogs.  It features fully-coated lenses for maximum brightness, clarity and contrast.  Being nitrogen gas-filled, it is naturally waterproof and fog-proof. This scope is also shock resistant and Weaver-style rings are included.

Confidence is critical to deer hunting success and if you feel you are at a disadvantage with your slug gun, pop one of these sighting systems on your favorite pump or auto and you’ll quickly see the light.

 

DSC_0045_Banner Picking the “perfect” crossbow optic isn’t as straightforward or easy as you might think, as there’s a lot to consider. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed purchase.

By Aaron Carter

The crossbow market differs from others in that all-inclusive “packages” dominate, and for good reason, too. Rather than having to piecemeal his or her way to a range- and field-capable crossbow, the bundler gets all of the items necessary for practice and hunting (except broadheads) with one buy. Included among the many articles is generally found some sort of optic for sighting; except for some bowfishing-specific and low-cost models, seldom are modern crossbows equipped with open sights. But, what if you’re displeased with the pre-packaged optic, the crossbow didn’t come with one, or it no longer works (for one of myriad reasons)? Below is a primer for purchasing a new, improved, or first crossbow optic.

Traditional-Type Scopes

The traditional-type optic rules the marketplace. Not only do these crossbow scopes resemble and function similarly to their firearm-mounted brethren, aiming is also by way of a crosshair (or multiple crosshairs and/or geometric shapes, such as triangles, or some combination thereof). Scopes with multiple aiming points (i.e. trajectory compensating reticles), such as TRUGLO’s TRU-BRITE XTREME, are preferable to those with a single one because you’re provided with exact holds at various ranges. Why? Despite the high velocities attained by modern crossbows, bolts still drop considerably—especially at the crossbow’s furthest practical ranges.
Key to accurate aiming points, however, is using a scope that enables you to match your crossbow’s velocity to a specific, preprogrammed trajectory setting on the second-focal-plane scope. Found on the magnification band, this feature provides precise aiming points for multiple ranges—most go from 20 yds. to 50 yds.—based upon the trajectory of your setup (i.e. crossbow, bolt, and tip/broadhead). For this reason, using published velocities by manufacturers isn’t “good enough”; you must chronograph the setup that you intend to use afield. It takes only minutes, and chronographs today are relatively inexpensive. I prefer Competition Electronics chronographs, which retail for around $100 and can calculate the velocities of everything from bows to high-velocity rifles.

A typical Bolt-drop-calibration style crossbow reticle. (This illuminated reticle is from TRUGLO’s TRU•BRITE XTREME)

Once set, you’re typically ready to shoot (not necessarily hunt) out to the scope’s maximum range without guessing holdovers. Verify the holds, though. Do not change the setting or the aiming points won’t be accurate. Too, if you change your setup in a way that affects the velocity you must chronograph it again. To eliminate confusion, some such optics have the distances (i.e 20, 30, 40, 50) listed beside the aiming points, though this isn’t necessary.

Your crossbow scope should be no less feature-filled than a riflescope. For example, it should be at least water resistant, though waterproof is preferred, as well as shock resistant and fog proof. Moreover, demand that it have fully multi-coated lenses and consistent, repeatable “clicks.” It’s also nice to have an illuminated reticle, particularly if you’re hunting from a ground blind during low-light conditions or hogs at night (where legal). These are usually rheostat controlled and have multiple colors from which to choose.

Surely you’re wondering if your riflescope can pull double-duty on your crossbow. To this I must say “no.” Standard riflescopes typically have a single aiming point, which would mandate zeroing and firing at a single distance. Do you want to be that limited in the field? Since you’re relying on hemorrhaging to kill an animal, not the tremendous terminal ballistics of a high-velocity rifle bullet, precision is key. Therefore, relying on “holding on hair” or some other imprecise compensating method can be viewed as unethical. Even riflescopes with trajectory compensating reticles wouldn’t necessarily correlate to a crossbow’s trajectories. Stick to crossbow scopes.

Dual•Color Crossbow Open Dot sight with 4 different reticles

Dot- and Reflex-Style Optics
In general, dot- and reflex-style optics have grown in popularity—especially in the shooting sports. But, they’re not as popular for crossbows … yet. Unlike traditional-type crossbow scopes, the aforementioned optics are generally both lightweight and unobtrusive. For example, TRUGLO’s 1X 34 mm DUAL-COLOR red-dot sight weighs a trivial 5.5 ozs., and the 1X 30 mm TRITON is only 7 ozs. The TRU-BRITE XTREME scope is more than double the weight of the latter. The eye quickly focuses on the glowing aiming point, and that illumination is invaluable in compromised lighting. The only downfall is that there’s no magnification, which makes sighting at-distance more difficult than with the traditional-style scopes.

As for the reasons mentioned in the section above, single-aiming-point, dot-style sights that are meant for firearms shouldn’t be affixed to your crossbow; instead, select one that has multiple aiming points (i.e. trajectory compensating system) that get smaller as they descend. Why is this important? Remember, there’s no magnification so you don’t want an oversize dot to take longish shots. One of the best compensating systems I’ve seen on a dot-style sight is found on the TRUGLO DUAL-COLOR, as you can select from one of four speed settings to provide the correct aiming points for your crossbow. Will it be as precise as selecting the exact velocity of your crossbow? No, but it’ll be very close (unless your bow is way outside of the norm with regard to velocity). As mentioned previously, you want your dot- or reflex-style sight to be rugged and dependable.

Once you’ve selected your favored design, the only thing left to do is mount the optic and adjust it, then spend time practicing. Then, come fall, you’ll be confident to take the shot at that once-in-a-lifetime buck, bull, or bear.

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