Bow accessories that can make you a better shooter.
By Russell Thornberry
“The times, they are a changin’.”
Bob Dylan’s lyric crossed my mind the other day while I was perusing a bowhunting catalog and its amazing variety of bow sights and accessories. When I started bowhunting, sights were viewed with skepticism and considered something for sissies. Even when I started shooting a compound bow, I saw no need for sights. But when a friend gave me one for Christmas, I begrudgingly mounted it on my bow rather than appear ungrateful. To my amazement my shooting improved immediately.
The one factor that has spawned the practical use of so many varieties of modern bow sights has to be the constant increase in arrow speed.
When I bought my first compound, 200 feet per second was considered blistering speed. Today, 300 fps or more doesn’t even raise eyebrows. That 100-fps increase has changed everything.
So, when someone asks what I consider to be the best sight on the market, it’s like being asked what’s the best deer rifle. It depends on a lot of factors. Will you be hunting on the ground, from treestands, or both? What’s your maximum effective range? Do you prefer multi-pin or single-pin sights? Will you be hunting in thick timber or open terrain? Do you have more than one bow? What size sight pin do you prefer? What does the law in your state or province allow for illuminated pins?
Choosing the right bow sight encompasses both the practical and the cosmetic. I will deal with the practical, which means that in every category there likely will be numerous possibilities. My intention is not to tell you which bow sight is the choice for you, but rather point out the circumstances and conditions in which a particular style of sight might be considered.
TruGlo Pendulum Sight Series
I began bowhunting in Alberta back in the ’70s. Because of the thick, timbered terrain, my shots were fairly close and almost always from a treestand. I experimented with varying heights and finally settled on eye level at 25 feet. Admittedly, that meant a lot of sharp downward-angled shots. My arrows were heavy and my bow was slow compared to modern arrow speeds. I tried a pendulum sight and never looked back. It was deadly, and I shot a truckload of whitetails with it.
The sight compensated for my stand height, which meant I could simply aim at the deer and shoot with no mental compensation out to 30 or so yards.
Then, in the mid ’80s, Buckmasters arrived on the scene and I was asked to be their editor, which eventually saw me hunting lots of other big game from Mexico to Alaska. My old pendulum sight was not going to accommodate everything I would hunt. Over the years, I have tried dozens of bow sights. In 2009, I retired as the editor in chief of Buckmasters, and my wife and I moved back to Alberta. Here I am, bowhunting for whitetails like I did in the beginning.
While hunting 25 feet high in thick mixed timber last season, I concluded what I needed was the freedom of another pendulum sight.
I have a couple of pet bows, so I have dedicated one as my official whitetail treestand bow. After some market search for modern pendulum sights, I settled on TruGlo’s TG700T with the TFO tritium illuminated sight pin. It automatically compensates for distances up to 35 yards, which would be a long shot in the tight timber where I hunt. The sight features extra long, protected, wrapped fiber, and the glow-in-the-dark shooter’s ring helps peep sight alignment. Unlike the pendulum sight of old, this one is amazingly quiet.
In addition, the pendulum can be locked in place for ground shooting. The sight has a 1.8-inch inner aperture diameter and a circular field of view and features a level with two vertical bars. The CNC-machined sight is ultra light and compact and is adjustable for right- or left-handed shooters.
I mentioned earlier the impact that increased arrow speed has had on bow sights. Because bows shoot faster and flatter than ever before, bowhunters can take longer shots than they used to. But modern bows are better than most of the people who shoot them.
Just having six or seven sight pins maketh not a good long-range shooter! The nemesis of long-distance shooting consistency is a combination of inconsistent shooting form, anchoring and bow torque. Peep sights help but do not address the whole problem, but the IQ Bowsight does with its Retina Lock Alignment Technology.
Most bowhunters are confident shooting at shorter ranges, but when they get out to 40 or more, their groups start to open up. Consider that as little as 1/4-inch of misalignment will result in a 10-inch miss at 40 yards. However, the IQ Bowsight’s Retina Lock Technology puts you in perfect alignment with every shot and immediately increases your effective range. When at full draw, make sure the black dot rests in the center of the green circle before you release your arrow.
Nothing I’ve ever tried helped my long-range shooting like the IQ Bowsight. Not only is my downrange shooting better, but the Retina Lock also trains my muscle memory, producing more consistent shooting form.
Trijicon AccuPin/AccuDial Bow Sight Combo
You have probably read about or seen the amazing high-tech, long-range riflescopes that are actually calibrated to the shooter’s specific bullet trajectory out to as much as 1,000 yards. Well, guess what? Trijicon, noted for quality firearms optics, has created a precision bow sight that does comparatively the same thing — well, not to 1,000 yards!
It’s called the AccuPin/AccuDial Bow Sight Combo, and it’s an engineering marvel. The heart of the innovative design lies in a triangular aiming tip, clear aiming pin and battery-free dual-illumination. Trijicon calls the AccuPin the brightest pin sight on the market.
Another key feature is the Trijicon AccuDial mount. Equipped with BowSync technology, this infinitely variable transmission enables exact (as small as 1-yard) range adjustment and synchronization for any bow/arrow combination. It allows for easy, on-the-fly adjustment without having to rely on a clumsy strip of tape.
Additional features include tritium-phosphor lamp and fiber optics, aircraft-grade aluminum, sight level, high impact shade shield and BowSync technology.
I can imagine sitting in a water hole blind in the bushveld of South Africa where gemsbuck and zebra sneak into view before standing at a distance like statues for prolonged periods before deciding whether a drink of water is worth the risk. The Trijicon AccuPin/AccuDial is begging to be there with me! There are plenty of perfect hunting scenarios right here in North America, too.
Leupold Vendetta Bow Mounted Rangefinder
And speaking of rangefinders, I must mention Leupold’s Vendetta bow-mounted rangefinder. The Vendetta enables you to range your subject at full draw and instantly apply the appropriate sight pin for the shot. This eliminates the need for ranging and aiming to be two separate operations.
The Vendetta gives you an instant and precise digital readout of your target range, even at full draw, with no excessive movement. Simply push the trigger pad, and Vendetta continually adjusts distance, angles and elevation as your target moves.
The Vendetta automatically calculates incline/decline and distance to your target to deliver the most accurate measurement possible.
One-Touch Continuous Scan lets you hold the trigger pad down and continuously range an animal as it moves.
The universal mounting system of the Vendetta mounts to the riser on any modern compound bow.
The CR2 lithium battery provides thousands of activations, so the Vendetta can outlast even the longest season. The LED display is specially engineered for excellent visibility in any light. The ergonomic pressure trigger pad mounts comfortably on your bow grip, allowing natural hand position for instinctive activation with no excessive movement.
I find the Vendetta to be a wonderful addition to any fixed or adjustable pin bow sight, but be sure and check your hunting regulations. Even though the Vendetta is not a sight, some states make it illegal by the wording of their laws, which disallow any electrical sight systems on bows. While the Vendetta is not a sight, it is electric.
S4 Gear Jackknife Smartphone Bow Mount
I just knew somebody would think of this device, and S4 Gear finally did. It’s the Jackknife Smartphone Bow Mount (MSRP $44.99).
For you bowhunters who wish you could have a cameraman with you, now you can. This clever little device attaches to your bow riser and allows you to mount your cell phone so you can film what you shoot — or at least what you aim at.
The Jackknife’s universal design fits all bows, even with quiver and sight attached. The highly adjustable cradle mounts fits virtually any smartphone with or without a protective case. Its compact design allows it to fold flush against the riser when not in use.
The Jackknife features a quick-detach feature that lets you remove your phone for storage. Oversized knobs make for easy adjustments even when wearing gloves. The protective foam lining holds your phone securely in place while guarding it against shock and vibration.
So, there ya go, you social media bowhunting buffs. You can film your hunts and send them to your friends before you even climb down from your stand.