Bow Sights 101: Looking For A New Bow Sight For Archery Season?


By Nancy Jo Adams

I remember my very first bow set-up. I walked into Archery Unlimited in Prattville, Alabama, as the owner Rick Hellums, approached me asking if there was anything he could help me with. This first impression was very good, after my experience of being looked at as if I were an alien in one shop to being sold a bow that clearly did not fit me in another, it was nice to be addressed as a customer…a FEMALE customer.

With a 25.5 draw I was already at a small disadvantage as an archer and because I had never owned a bow and was a complete novice, I was going to have to start out with low poundage. I did find the perfect bow for my stats that day. That was actually much easier than outfitting it with a sight. I was absolutely overwhelmed when we walked down the isle that had all the bow sights hanging on pegs. There had to be close to three dozen types and brands in varying styles and the prices ranged from $29 to well over $200.

I have always believed in the philosophy that you buy the very best you can afford in gear so you do not have to upgrade as often, if ever. So when Rick asked me what I felt I wanted to spend in a sight, I replied, “I don’t need the top of the line as a novice shooter but I want to stay away from entry-level and buy something of quality just above mid-range.” He showed me three different sights and gave me the pros and cons of each sight based on my personal bow set-up. When I walked out of the pro shop with my new bow, I was confident that I had exactly what I needed. I shot that same bow with the same Toxonics fixed 5-pin sight for three years before I upgraded to another bow.

I am fortunate that I have a reputable, quality bow technician to assist me in any upgrades or new purchases that I make for archery gear but I do know there are many archers out there that don’t have that option available. Often it is hard to find the newest equipment on the market for the lack of time or knowledge of where to look for it. Local big box sporting good stores can only stock a small number of products of varying brands and the Internet can be overwhelming and very time consuming. I felt it would assist many archers who are contemplating replacing or upgrading their bow sight this season if I shared some of the most innovative and revolutionary bow sites on the market for 2015.

There are several categories of bow sights: Fixed-Pin Sights, Single-Pin Moveable Sights, Hybrid Sights and Pendulum Sights.

Fixed Pin Sights

Fixed pin bow sights are usually available in 3, 4 and 5 pin styles and are the most commonly used sight by bow hunters. The pins are set at a predetermined distance and locked-in by tightening an Allen screw within the sight-housing bracket. The top pin is set for the closest distance, the second pin the next predetermined distance and so on until you reach the farthest predetermined distance of the bottom pin.

Typically the top pin is set for 20 yards and then at 5 to 10 yard increments. Once the pins are set they are screwed tightly in that fixed position and will not move. Two disadvantages to fixed pins is that if your target is at a distance between two set yardages, you must learn to “shoot the gap” to be accurate for that yardage. The other is that if your bow shoots good speed, not allowing your arrow to drop much, your pins will be stacked on top of one another, often making it hard to see the pins.

Some Popular Fixed Pin Sights


New for 2015 is the Copper John’s TST, short for “Torque Synchronizing Technology”. This sight is designed to sit in behind the bow riser, offering the elimination of torque-induced error resulting in shooting-form forgiveness. The TST is an all-metal design weighing six ounces and is available in .019 inch MicroDOT aiming points backed by tough Ironclad Fibers in three or five pins. The pin guard incorporates a highly visible recessed peep-alignment ring, a bright bubble level, a sight light, with 2nd and 3rd axis adjustability.

Custom Bow Equipment offers a new all-metal, compact, ultra-light fixed pin sight in the CBE Sniper Pro XD. The Sniper Pro offers milled aluminum body and stainless steel bolts for protection from the toughest elements and use. The pin guard incorporates a red-hued bubble level and hatched white peep highlights for instant detection of torque and proper alignment. The dovetail gang elevation offers a full 3.5 inches of adjustment for perfect peep-to-aperture sizing with visual laser engraved markings. The five bright Rhino Pins are available in .010 or .019 and each has 12 inches of fiber for light gathering and visibility that is protected by an Arm Guard Fiber Management System. The included adjustable rheostat light adds lowlight visibility to the super bright Rhino Pins.

CBE Sniper Pro XD

The new ReactPro by Trophy Ridge is coined to offer “everything AND the kitchen sink.” The solid aluminum constructed React Pro offers tool-less adjustment with stainless steel hardware that weighs in at only 9.5 ounces. The pin guard incorporates a precision installed bubble level, a glow-ring, rheostat sight light for low-light visibility, five impact–armored ultra-bright fiber optic pins, and front fiber optic ring with a no-snag fiber routing system keeping your fiber optic safe from damage. The React Pro offers easy second and third axis leveling, micro-click windage and elevation adjustments and no-slop windage and elevation brackets.


The Trophy Ridge “React Technology” accurately predicts what each pin gap will be based on the distance between your 20-yard pin and any other yardage. By turning the master adjustment knob just a ¼ turn, it barely moves the 30-yard pin, while the 60-yard pin moves substantially more.


Moveable Pin Sights

Single pin moveable sights have one pin that is “dialed-in” to the desired yardage and a dual pin has one “fixed” pin and another moveable pin that is adjustable by a wheel, lever or slider. These sights are easy to set up and an archer has the option of setting the slide tape up by 1, 2, 5 or 10-yard increments if they wish.

Some archers feel that the necessity of having to set your pin yardage for every shot is a burden but having the option of exact yardage by any length increment for the shot outweighs that burden. The one disadvantage is that if you come to full draw on a pin you just set and the target is moving closer or further away without giving you a shot opportunity, you have to let your bow down to re-calibrate your distance which can be done quickly but there is some movement involved. With a fixed sight, when this scenario happens, you can just move to the next set pin or shoot the gap between pins for a shorter distance than the next set pin. The single pin moveable sight’s main advantage is that it is highly accurate for any yardage that you have the option to dial-in.

Some Popular Moveable Pin Sights


The new Axcel Sights’ Accutouch HD single-pin slider sight offers something that other moveable pin sights do not. The Accutouch HD features the Accu-Clicks system, which allows the archer to set the sight for specific yardages so that the slider stop-clicks on those a chosen yardage without the archer ever having to remove their eyes from the target. This is a huge advantage for hunters especially in low light or those archers with vision limitation. The Accutouch HD is advertised as the “Pick It, Click It, Stick It” sight and this describes the sight well.

The sights 45-degree rear-facing sight scale allows the archer to see the yardage that the pin is set for at a glance at arms length. Offering all axis leveling, the Accutouch HD also adds an adjustable tension lever for the elevation bar, a windage lock button, micro-adjustable windage know, and a superior Windage Dovetail Guide System. Available with a Mathews Harmonic Damper direct mount version, a non-damper direct mount unit paired with the X-41 scope, measuring 1-3/4” diameter for a wide field of view. A dovetail version, the AccuTouch Pro, is available with a 6” carbon bar paired with the X-31 scope, measuring 1-3/8” diameter or the X-41 scope. Both scopes are available with either .019 or .010 green fiber optic ring pins. Pin color options are available in green, blue, yellow or red in both the .019 and .010 size. An optional sight light is available for this sight.

The ever-popular G5 Optix XR2 took the industry by storm several years ago when launched as one of the first moveable pin bow sights designed for bow hunters. It is still a popular bow sight because of its versatility and simple design. The two-pin sight offers a fixed pin at a pre-determined yardage called a “smart-pin” and a hybrid-floating pin giving hunters the capability of exact yardage adjustment with dial-to-the-yardage accuracy.


The G5 Optix XR2 incorporates a large wheel-style adjustment knob and easy to read, self-labeled vinyl tape for high visibility adjustment in the field. The sight weighs in at only 6 ounces and is constructed of Magnesium Alloy that is 30% lighter than aluminum. The white ring housing with built-in visor, rubber arrow bumper, .019” smart pin and hybrid-floating pin, blue bubble level, harmonic damper, offers a silent, highly visible and accurate sight with corrosion-resistant components. The dual-riser mounting position, micro-adjustment and third axis tuning guarantees perfect tuning. The sight is available in left or right-handed models in black, Realtree AP, Realtree Xtra and Lost Camo.

Pendulum Sights

The pendulum sight is idea for hunters who primarily hunt from elevated stands. The counter weight or slide system adapts for the angle that the bow is held downward and with the pin held on the target, the sight is accurately aimed for a lethal shot. The science behind this is that the single pin is mounted in a way that it moves up or swings up to compensate with the angle of the bow to accurately place the pin for the yardage to hit the intended target.

Pendulum sights are not typically good for hunting on foot from the ground since the pin has no elevation to move it into varying yardages. Another disadvantage with pendulum sights is that all the variables that the sight may not be able to compensate for and they are not as effective with longer distances because the shot plain becomes flatter and the pin is returned to its original position which is typically a 20-yard shot. Some pendulums are designed with a second pin for longer yardage shots to compensate this problem.

The Predator IV pendulum sight is a silent, 5-way adjustment bow sight that offers a TruGlo Starlite Pin fiber optic for low-light precision, for tree stand and ground shooting. The sturdy aluminum construction, available in fixed plate mounting, or a dovetail mounting, or a 3-D All Terrain makes this sight a versatile, rugged, impact resistant bow sight. The pivot point incorporates stainless, synthetic lubricated bearings allows for the pendulum to remain steady and to dampen the swing created by drawing the bow.


TruGlo Pendulum offers tree stand hunters an extremely quiet, lightweight constructed, tool-less sight made of durable CNC-machined aluminum. The sight can also be locked in place for ground hunting. The sight automatically compensates for distances up to 35 yards from the tree stand. The extra-long protected, wrapped fiber gives the .019” pin high visibility. The TruGlo pendulum is only available in black and is adjustable for left and right-handed shooters.


Let’s look at some of the features you will find in bow sights and how they assist in archery accuracy.

Bubble Levels

Bubble levels mounted within or just below the bracket housing are useful in keeping the archer from canting the bow. Canting/tilting a bow left or right will send your shot to the direction you are tilting. The bubble level, once an archer trains to use it, can add an element of consistency and perfects your horizontal accuracy.

Windage and Elevation

Windage and elevation is usually achieved by using micro-adjustment on the bow sight. These features help you sight in your bow with precise mini adjustments. Some models do not offer micro-adjustments and only offer gang adjustments to accurately zero in on a target. The difference is that with gang adjustments, loosening screws in the pin housing bracket allows the whole pin housing to be moved freely whereas the micro-adjustment simply moves the bracket housing up and down or right and left by small increments.

Fiber Optics

Fiber optic cable gathers light and channels it to the ends of the cable making the pin highly visible. Usually there is a ½” to 2” or more of fiber optics that is wrapped outside the sight housing bracket where it can easily collect light. Fiber optic is available in several sizes: .019”, .029” and .040”. This fiber size translates to pin size with .019” being the smallest of the sizes.

The micro-fine .019” pin sight gives you the advantage of a larger sight window when placing the pin on your target but the downside is that it can be harder to see, especially in bright light situations. The .040” are usually brighter in low light situation but cover up more target in the sight window. The most popular and versatile size for bow hunters is the .029”.


There are two mounting designs you will find on most hunting sights. One is the fixed plate where the mounting system is built right into the bracket of the sight. The other is the dovetail design that allows the pin housing and bar to be removed and reinstalled easily keeping the correct yardage calibration and not having to re-sight the bow in. Most hunters use the fixed plate style whereas 3-D or competitive archers use the dovetail style because they often use a variety of sights for competition.

Sight Lights

Many bow sights come with a sight light and some offer it as an option. Nearly all bow sights come with a predrilled, threaded option to add a light to your bow sight housing for higher pin visibility in low light shooting. If the particular brand bow site you are purchasing does not offer a sight light, you can usually purchase a generic brand light to use with your bow sight. These mini, threaded lights run off small standard watch batteries and are usually emit a small dark blue beam adding a noticeable illumination to the sight pins.

Finding the perfect bow sight for your intended use will take a little research but with the various brands of quality bow sights on the market and the offered features found in each bow sight, you can rest assured that there is one that will serve its purpose well for each and every archer in the woods or in competition at the range.

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Endorsement Disclosure: Per the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the products reviewed in these product reviews is an endorsement and the writer may have been compensated by “in-kind” payment to review the product.