Single-Pin vs. Multi-Pin Bow Sights
By Rob Reaser
Forget the arguments. Bow sight selection comes down to personal hunting style.
We all like a good controversy, especially when it helps to pass a long evening in hunting camp or a rainout at the 3D range.
Today, one of bowhunting’s hottest “issues of passion” involves bow sights; specifically, whether single-pin “slider” sights or conventional multi-pin sights are best for bowhunting.
The truth is, both single-pin (or single-dot) sights and multi-pin sights are ideal for bowhunting, so don’t get drawn into the argument of which is best. Both will help you put an arrow in the kill zone. The real question is, “Which one is best for you and your style of bowhunting?”
Since you can’t take a new sight out for a thorough test drive, we want to discuss both sight designs, explain the advantages and caveats of each, and explore the hunting applications they are most suited for. With this information, you can make an informed bowhunting sight purchase for the upcoming season.
Multi-pin sights have been around since the resurgence of modern archery. Although the current crop of sights, with their lightweight bodies and advanced fiber-optics, are light years ahead of the old-school designs, they still work on the same principle of multiple pins providing point-of-impact aiming for established distances. A typical multi-pin sight will have four to six adjustable pins enclosed in a circular housing. The shooter sets each pin to a specific distance. Most bowhunters set the top pin for 20 yards, the second pin for 30 yards, and so on. You can adjust windage (left and right) by moving the sight housing left or right, or adjust elevation by moving the individual pins up or down. Simple stuff.
Single-pin sights are as the name implies. There is only one aiming reference, yet this reference provides point-of-impact sighting throughout a bowhunter’s effective lethal range—from close up to around 100 yards. Setup can vary between models, but generally you sight the bow in for 20 yards and 40 yards and mark the sight bracket accordingly. Next, select a pre-calculated yardage tape where the selected 20- and 40-yard ticks line up with the 20- and 40-yard sight-in marks on the bracket. Because the yardage tape matches arrow drop at two points-of-impact (20 and 40 yards), you can move the yardage adjustment mechanism to any yardage point on the tape and be sure of your point-of-impact.
Single-pin sights have become increasingly popular in recent years for several reasons, most notably for their ability to provide precise point-of-impact at variable distances. If you range a deer at 46 yards, simply adjust the sight to the 46-yard mark and you’re on target. Another big advantage to single-pin sights is the reduced sight picture clutter. There is only one pin or dot within the sight housing, giving you a clear view of your target and any obstructions that might be in the way, such as tree limbs or brush.
With multi-pin sights, all of the pins will be visible in the sight picture, and you must be careful to select the correct pin for the distance you are shooting. The advantage of the multi-pin sight is that no adjustments to the sight are required prior to taking the shot. In a fast-changing hunting situation where your target is moving, target acquisition is quicker with a multi-pin sight than it is with a single-pin sight.
Of course, the quicker target acquisition of multi-pin sights comes at a slight cost. Each pin is zeroed for a specific yardage, and that means shooting at a target between the sight-in yardages requires some practiced “guesstimating.” We call this “pin-gap sighting.” Taking our hypothetical deer at 47 yards, you’ll shoot slightly high if you aim with your 50-yard pin, and shoot a good bit low if you use your 40-yard pin. Through practice, you’ll learn how much over or under to hold at these in-between distances when using multi-pin sights. In this case, you would want to use your 50-yard pin and hold slightly under your intended point-of-impact.
The single-point sight, on the other hand, eliminates this challenge. Simply adjust your sight to the 47-yard mark on the bracket and you will be spot-on. The caveat is that you have to take time to adjust your sight pin. That’s fine if the deer is standing still and not looking at you; however, if the deer is moving about and changing its distance from you, you’ll need to readjust the pin as the situation demands. Fortunately, single-pin or single-dot sights, such as TRUGLO’s ARCHER’S CHOICE® RANGE•ROVER™ or RANGE•ROVER™ PRO, have an easy-to-use yardage adjustment wheel. This wheel lets you dial-in your sight quickly with just one hand and with minimal body movement.
While bowhunters use both single-pin and multi-pin sights for all hunting conditions, as we mentioned earlier, which style is best for you depends on your hunting style and the environment you typically hunt in.
Many bowhunters find the single-pin sight to be optimal for treestand or ground blind hunting when the targeting opportunities are controlled or predictable. An example would be when you know that deer approaching from direction X will present a shot opportunity at distance Y. Treestand and blind hunting also usually give the bowhunter more time and cover to make adjustments if the deer are moving.
One tactic single-pin enthusiasts sometimes use when hunting from treestands or ground blinds is pre-setting their pin for the average distance deer are likely to be. For example, by setting their pin for 25 yards and understanding (through practice) the arrow’s point-of-impact at 15 through 35 yards when using that 25-yard setting, they can adjust their hold-over or hold-under accordingly and not have to adjust the sight pin if the deer is within that range. Essentially, this is a spin-off of pin-gapping.
The other hunting application where the single-pin sight really shines is when the target tends to be at longer distances. Not only does a single-pin sight allow you to shoot from short to long distances without cluttering up your sight picture, you typically have more time to adjust your sight if an animal is at 70 or 80 yards. There is also less chance of spooking a game animal when you make the adjustment.
Although single-pin sights are quickly gaining popularity among experienced bowhunters, multi-pin sights continue to dominate the sport, and for good reason. Bowhunting is an unpredictable pursuit, as game animals rarely do exactly what you think or want them to do. While single-pin sights can provide that pinpoint, no-guess accuracy, many bowhunters feel more confident using multi-pin sights in close-quarters (under 40 yards), where there may not be time to make manual sight adjustments. Furthermore, a bit of gap-shooting practice will ensure that you know where your point-of-impact will be at those in-between yardages.
To Each His or Her Own
As you can see, there is no “better” or “best” when it comes to bowhunting sight selection. The right choice for you depends on your hunting style and the typical conditions in which you hunt. If you hunt in an environment where your target distance can change quickly and you have no trouble with pin-gap sighting, a multi-pin sight may be the perfect sight for you. If you are capable of shooting longer distances (such as when hunting elk or mule deer), or your hunting conditions allow you the time and cover to make the necessary manual adjustments, a single-pin “slider” sight could be your ticket.
And One More Thing…
While we’re on the subject of variable point-of-impact sights, you may want to consider a pendulum sight if you hunt exclusively from a treestand. Pendulum sights, such as the TRUGLO® Pendulum, automatically compensate for changes in distance when shooting from an elevated stand. This eliminates any holdover or holdunder guesswork that must be taken into account when shooting from an elevated platform with either a conventional single-pin or a multi-pin sight. Although the TRUGLO® Pendulum is made for shooting from a treestand (out to 35 yards), the pendulum can be locked in place and the sight used on the ground as a single-pin slider sight. In short, you get two sights in one (adjustable single-pin and pendulum).
State-of-the-art multi-pin sights, such as TRUGLO’s new CARBON HYBRID™, continue to be the sight of choice for bowhunters who are comfortable with pin-gap sighting and expect unpredictable hunting conditions. With its aluminum-carbon hybrid construction, durable metal pins, and bright light-gathering fibers, the CARBON HYBRID™ is the high-tech workhorse of the multi-pin sight world.
Whether you’re shooting 20 yards, 100 yards, or any distance in-between, a single-dot “slider” sight like the TRUGLO® ARCHER’S CHOICE® RANGE•ROVER™ Pro, will deliver true point-of-impact sighting. Simply range your target, adjust the sight to the distance marked on the sight bracket, and aim with confidence.
When shooting from an elevated stand, the TRUGLO® Pendulum automatically compensates for elevation angles out to 35 yards. Get on the ground and the pendulum can be locked into place, allowing you to use the sight as a conventional single-pin “slider” sight. You get the best of both worlds!