Types of Archery Target Sights

A bow sight is a device mounted on the riser of a bow that tells you where your arrow is going. Although it is possible to shoot without a bow sight, doing so is extremely difficult. Nearly all modern compound bows come equipped with some sort of aiming sight. There are many varieties of bow sights, and since accuracy is so vital to both hunting and target shooting, deciding which type is right for you requires some study.

Fixed-pin sights

This is the most common type of bow sight. It is also very popular with hunters. A fixed-pin sight typically has three to five pins that can each be set for a specific distance. Setting up a fixed-pin sight is fairly easy, although it does require some experimentation. These sights can yield excellent results and are also easy to use in the field.

Movable-pin sights

Instead of using multiple pins in preset locations, these sights rely on a single pin that is adjusted before every shot. The movable-pin sight, while very good for general target shooting and competition, is not very popular with hunters. Many feel the added step of adjusting a sight before shooting, gives deer and other game more time to detect their movements. However, many hunters still use this type of sight with good results.

Pendulum sights

Also known as “tree stand sights,” pendulum sights are used by tree stand hunters. A pendulum sight helps to compensate for elevation on downhill shots, an area of particular concern for tree stand hunters. These sights usually have a single pin that is mounted on a hinged pendulum swing. When the bow is tipped forward, as it is during downhill shooting, the pendulum swings forward, compensating for the shooting angle. Due to the nature of the design, a pendulum sight is probably not a good choice for target shooting. Huntersfriend.com says the accuracy of such sights is “more relative than absolute.”

3D competition sights

Also called “target sights,” 3D sights are specifically manufactured for competitive shooting. They are rarely used for hunting because of their size, complexity and cost. As sights go, 3D versions are some of the most accurate available. The design of a 3D sight is a more complex variation of the movable-pin design. Serious competitive shooters sometimes invest several hundred dollars in their sighting system.

Fixed-plate vs. dovetail mounts

With fixed-plate mounts, the sight bracket is attached directly to the bow. A dovetail mount has a separate retainer bracket, containing a dovetail groove, that is mounted on the bow. The sight is fitted into an extension bracket, which fits into the dovetail groove. Hunters usually prefer the simpler design of the fixed-plate mount, while competitive shooters often favor the dovetail mount.

About this Author

Andrew Jeromski is a freelance writer based in Boston. He covered Major League Soccer for three seasons for the Lowell Sun newspaper in Lowell, Mass. He has a background in journalism and creative writing, and is also an award-winning writer of fiction.