Sighting Options: Going Solo (Part 1)
by Joe Byers
A young man moved into my neighborhood and we quickly became friends when he saw the 3-D deer target in my back yard. “I’ve always wanted to learn to bow hunt,” he remarked one day and I soon had him set-up. An athletic person, he grouped arrows in the heart of the kill zone consistently with just a few shots. After practicing all summer, he was finally ready for opening day and I put him in my best treestand. An hour after daylight a big doe walked down the trail at 20 yards and I heard the arrow launch and clang among the rocks. “I forgot to look through the peep sight and missed by five feet,” he said later. “I just got so excited when the animal showed up.”
We laugh about that first hunting episode today, yet my buddy’s experience typifies the intense excitement that archers face at the moment of truth. With adrenalin pumping, it’s easy to act hastily, especially with multi-pin sights. Vertical archers usually remember to use their peep sight, yet getting confused with multiple pins is common. The solution is remarkably simple and so low-tech that many archers overlook the possibility—use a single-pin sight.
Speed and Technology
Single-pin sights come in varying forms, yet in keeping with the “simpler-is-better” theme, select a sight with one pin or use a three-pin set-up and drop two of the pins to the bottom of the housing. With today’s fast bows, sighting in at 25 yards results in an arrow that strikes a little high at 20 yards and a little low out to 30 yards providing an on-target hit without thought- literally a “no-brainer”. Bow set-ups will vary and you need to experiment to see if this works for you.
Prime Candidates for Single-Pin Setups
Single-pins are ideal for special situations such as:
New Hunters- Pin confusion can be a real challenge for new bowhunters and simplifying the sighting picture reduces stress at the moment of truth. Use a range-finder to practice on a 3-D target and you will quickly learn the arc of your arrow. If you hunt from an elevated stand, be sure to practice shooting at a downward angle.
Early Season– Most bow seasons begin long before the leaves start to fall and shots are often 20 yards or closer due to limited visibility. As soon as you are safely buckled in, range in reference objects immediately and establish that 15-30 yard kill zone. If that big buck suddenly steps out, you can quickly and confidently aim and shoot.
Set-Ups- If you use scents, attractants, or other tactics that tend to focus deer at a specific spot, set that attractant at your 25 yard sight-in spot. This also allows a little extra distance from your stand or blind so that movement is less detectable when coming to full draw.
Visual Acuity- Multiple pins can become difficult for archers who wear glasses or have less-than-perfect vision. One single dot is easier to focus on and you can opt for a TFO (Tritium/Fiber-Optic) sight pin, which doesn’t require batteries and literally glows in the dark.
Other Single-Pin Options
Pendulum sights automatically adjust for distance and allow a hunter to aim low-in-the-shoulder in case the deer ducks at the sound of release. Pendulum sights don’t use strings, batteries, or gizmos to work, so you don’t have to worry about mechanical failure. Gravity and mathematics drive this cool invention and they rarely fail.
Adjustable Range- Many 3-D shooters use a single-pin and a dial to adjust the sight for a specific range. You can still use the 25-yard dial-in for close-in action with the ability to shoot at longer range without hold-over. Additionally, you can use your hunting sight on the 3-D range and be ready for game at any distance. Most archers practice at distances much longer than normal hunting shots, which forces them to fine-tune their form. When you can ace a 12-ring at 50 yards, a buck at 30 yards becomes a piece of cake.