Your success when hunting game depends largely on your ability to use your bow. Unlike hunting with a crossbow, every aspect – aiming, drawing and firing – requires a complete commitment from both your body and mind. Whether you are hunting deer with a recurve bow or a compound bow, you need a sight you can rely on.
Which sight is the best? That depends on how and where you like to bow hunt. We will jump into some of the aspects you should consider before purchasing, as well as Five of our favorites in more detail below.
- Selecting a Bow Sight – Four Important Details:
- The Five Best Bow Sites for Recurve and Compound Bows For The Money:
- Final Thoughts:
Selecting a Bow Sight – Four Important Details:
First, let’s cover some of the basics. You’ll likely be using either a recurve or compound bow.
A recurve bow is a “traditional” bow. While the materials may have changed a bit over the years, these are the same types of bows you’d find centuries ago.
A compound bow is a modern bow. This type uses levers and pulleys to bend the limbs. This is an energy efficient method which allows the archer to deliver a lot of force.
Both types of bows require skill to use and require that you select the appropriate draw weight for your strength level and type of prey. You can see compound bow draw weights here, and recurve bow draw weights here. Tuning your bow regularly is also something else to consider as different types of bows have different tuning requirements.
While not every sight fits onto every type of bow, there are some characteristics which apply to every type of sight. Here are some things to look for:
1. Bow Sight Ease of Use:
Sights are going to need adjustments in the field. You’ll adjust both vertical and horizontal settings. This includes individual pins which will need to be adjusted. If the pins aren’t easy to re-tighten after adjustment, your string won’t stay taunt and your aim can be off.
Lock settings need to have two characteristics. They need to be easy to access, even outdoors under wet and dark conditions. They also need to be large enough to withstand repeated vibrations. Taking a set of wrenches along with you is usually a good idea so you can tighten bolts and screws as necessary.
Many hunters like a level. This helps steady your bow vertically. While looking at a level might not be very practical when out in the woods, it’s great to have when practicing. You can get a feel for how a level bow feels which, in turn, can help develop good habits you’ll then take with you into the outdoors.
You’ll also need to consider the number of pins. Pins are small metal pieces which hold fiber optics within the sight aperture. This is how you line up the target. Pins can be either vertical or horizontal. Sizes vary but can be changed in single models. Thick pins usually have a tendency to obscure small targets, so most archers and hunters prefer thinner pins.
Some sights have also have a Glo-ring around the pin housing perimeter. This illumination increases clarity and helps define the field of vision. Many sights also include an optional light which can also be installed in order to use the sight in darkness.
2. Archer Optics Light Enhancement:
Whether you’re in the deep woods on a sunny day, hunting deer in poor weather or hunting coyotes at night, light levels are bound to change. There are a few ways you use add illumination to your sight.
The earliest, simplest innovation is basically a miniature flashlight. This illuminates the pins. This is a relatively low-tech, inexpensive method but there are some downsides. First, it requires battery power, which isn’t very dependable. Also, the light is very visible which could make camouflage difficult.
Fiber optics are another option, and many prefer this more high-tech method as they are incorporated in more modern optics like rangefinders and compact hunting binoculars. Fiber optics create light without batteries. They work in both dark and daylight conditions.
Finally, the third popular lighting option is Tritium. This is a radioactive element added to the paint. It gathers light similar to the luminous dial you’d find on a glow-in-the-dark watch. Some sights use a combination of Tritium and fiber optics. (And don’t worry, even though the phrase “radioactive element” doesn’t sound great, Tritium in a bow sight is perfectly safe.)
3. The Optic Peep:
A peep sight is a small aperture which sits on your bowstring. You align your signs pins to determine the correct distance (elevation can impact your aim as well, so make sure you use an altimeter watch to measure how thin the air is where you are). This is your anchor point.
Peeps come in various sizes. Smaller peeps are hard to use in low light. However, large peeps increase the margin of error. No peep is also an option. This is especially useful if you wear glasses. There’s no 100% correct answer when it comes to peeps. You simply have to go with what works best for your needs.
4. Cost and Budgetary Constraints:
There’s usually no need to buy the most expensive, deluxe sight available. At the same time, the low-end product lines on the market tend to be too flimsy for heavy use in the woods. Most mid-range bows are going to be suitable for hunting and recreational archery.
If you’re a competitive archer, you’ll likely want a top-of-the-line model.
If you are a deer hunter setting up at your base camp nearby where you’ve got your game cameras stashed out, you’ll probably be safe with something in the mid-range, price-wise. Just make sure the sight is strong enough for your needs. You’ll want a sight made from solid, machine-manufactured aluminum or aluminum composite. This type of material will be lightweight, durable and resistant to long-term exposure to harsh weather.
The Five Best Bow Sites for Recurve and Compound Bows For The Money:
1. Trophy Ridge React 5 Pin Bow Sight:
Zero in on game with the Trophy Ridge React 5 pin bow sight. This sight includes a built in sight level with .019 Fiber Optic Pins.
Trophy Ridge is one of the top bow hunting scope manufacturers on the market and the Ridge React 5 is no different. It has a reversible site mount and a Rheostat light, making it a great choice for any hunter.
While having an illuminated spirit level can be something that some hunters may want, the most important thing to remember is that you need to have a level shot before you have anything else and the included sight leveler helps make that happen.
Note that bow sights for bows aren’t legal in every state or county. Be sure and check your local laws.
2. TruGlo Carbon XS 4 Pin .019 Bow Sight with Light:
Looking for a great value? You should consider this sight. This ultra lightweight carbon sight is durable without being cumbersome. The Tru Touch technical coating provides a soft feel.
You’ll be able to sight with accuracy from long distances with 1.8 inch inner diameter aperture. The sight is also adjustable for both left and right handed shooters.
Vertical adjustability is enhanced by a reversible bracket. A glow-in-the-dark ring helps align the peep sight in all conditions, even darkness.
This sight doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles but it’s easy to set-up and adjust. The light works well, too. And all at a price which won’t break the bank.
3. Field Logic IQ 5 Pin Sight:
This sight makes some bold claims: You’ll shoot longer distances and tighter groups or they’ll refund your money. While we’re not sure about their marketing style, the sight itself is pretty interesting. Simply put, this sight is a little different.
The main feature here is the Retina Lock instant feedback technology. This helps control muscle memory, form and consistency. You don’t stare directly at the Retina Lock.
Rather, the placement and brightness mean you see the Retina Lock peripherally. This basically forces you to use the proper grip.
Retina Lock sounds like a gimmick but it’s actually a useful, quality addition. If you’re struggling with proper form, the Field Logic IQ sight is worth consideration.
4. TruGlo Archers Chocie Range Rover Pro:
Reliable and accurate, the Range Rover Pro is a great choice for any budget. Suitable for both recurve and compound bows, this sight has a tracking design not found on other sights.
You’ll have hunting-level accuracy with the constant vertical movement.
The slider has an adjustable yardage stop and an elevation adjustment. The scope housing has an illuminated green dot to make acquiring your prey easier. Don’t let the low price fool you – this is a well-made sight with unique aiming capabilities.
It’s also adjustable for both left and right handed shooters.
5. Great Deals LLC 3 Pin Bow Sight – Fiber, Brass Pin, Aluminum Machined:
Strong, steady and easy to adjust, there’s a lot to like about this sight from Great Deals. Made from 6061-T6 machined CNC aluminum, this sight can handle rain, mud and snow.
It’s still lightweight enough to carry with you all day. A bubble level with two vertical bars helps keep your aim true.
The sight has clear markings for elevation and windages. The fiber optic diameter is .029. The sight is also adjustable for both left and right-handed shooters.
The pins are a bit on a thick side. Also, this sight isn’t the best in low-light condition. Still, this is a reliable, accurate bow with a reasonable price.
Bowhunting takes patience, tact and practicality. It’s just as important to know your own limitations versus the limitations of your prey.
Setting yourself up for success means giving yourself an edge. Starting off with the right bow sight can be a welcome addition to any bow hunter’s arsenal.
After you’ve carefully considered your budget, use and brand – you should be well on your way to filling up your tag limit on your next outdoor expedition.