No matter what sight brand you choose, there are a few basic features to look for.
Story and Photo by Dale R. Larson
Installing my new Toxonics Top Dog bow sight for the upcoming hunting season caused me to reminisce on how far modern technology has come. All bowhunters my age started slinging arrows instinctively with a longbow or recurve bow. If we were fortunate to have a schooled mentor, we learned how to use the tip of the arrow as an aiming point reference, or, if really educated, we could have taped a match stick or pin on the riser.
Now the array of bow sights is almost endless, and the technology seems to get better every year. It can be intimidating for a new bowhunter, but there are basic components that make a reliable and easy-to-use bow sight. And for us old-timers who think we know what we want, the manufacturers give us a hoard of options.
Basic components start with a solid and durable mounting bracket that can be secured positively to the bow’s riser with or without a slide bar. The dovetail slide bar is the strongest type available and allows for changing sight pin gangs, say, from 3-D to hunting settings and also easy removal of the sight itself. Longer slide bars that improve sight pictures and accuracy are available.
The sight pin gang assembly should have the ability to adjust both windage and elevation as a gang easily. Windage and elevation components should have graduated markings for reference. Pins within the gang should move independently. The sight pin’s frame should have two-pin tracks to allow for the smaller pin gap necessary with today’s fast bows.
The last basic concern is a solid pin guard that protects your pins from the rigors of hunting. Most pin guards are round, making peep alignment faster and pin position within the peep aperture view more consistent. All these components must attach to each other solidly and securely to withstand the shock and vibration of shooting the bow.
To prevent adjustable components from vibrating loose, there are a couple of tricks. First, always use Loctite on screws that don’t have to be repeatedly loosened.
Next, mark the position of all movable sight components, either on the bow sight or the bow. I always trace the outline of my sight bracket on the bow’s riser. Place marks on both sides of the windage and elevation bars. Also, mark each pin setting on the pin frame track. Permanent markers can be used, but I prefer a hard lead pencil. The lead markings may need freshening up from time to time but can be removed easily to accommodate new settings.
The difference between the old matchstick style and the fiber optic pins used now is like night and day. Fiber optic sight pins were fragile and expensive at conception but have become durable, affordable and are the most popular sight pins today. Coiled fibers gathering light and transferring it to the tip of the pin in highly visible fluorescent colors make sight pins highly visible, even in low light. Make sure the coiled fiber is tightly wrapped in order to keep vibration at a minimum. Look for pin construction that protects the fiber from hunting abuse.
The pin frame on my Toxonics sight is half moon in shape with a built-in channel on the back side that fully supports the fiber along the entire length of the pin. Equally important is the protection of the fiber coils, along with minimum exposed fiber between the pin and the coils. The coil housing protection should also be made of a transparent material.
Keep in mind that different bow designs and different shooting styles might require different bow sights. Individual preferences from multi-pins, single-pin, red dot, crosshair, laser and pendulum allow you to fit the sight to your needs.
The durability of your bowhunting sight is paramount. The material used in construction of all parts should be of the highest grade. All tapped screw holes should have significant length of threads to prevent them from stripping. I prefer sights that use a minimum number of screw sizes to limit number of wrenches needed for adjustments – or use a sight with tool-less adjustments.
Today’s manufacturers provide numerous well-constructed sights, but even the best can fail under extreme circumstances. A dropped bow from a treestand or a pitched bow from horseback can spell disaster for your hunt. I always take a spare sight that has previously been sighted-in, just for these mishaps. The cost of a spare sight is minimal to the cost of your hunt.
This article was published in the August 2006 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.