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 the Best Bow Sight – Four Important Details:
First, let’s cover some of the basics. You’ll likely be using either a recurve or compound bow, and likely using arrows with broadheads.
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.
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 5 Best Bow Sights for Recurve and Compound Bows for the Money:
1. Best Bow Sight: Trophy Ridge React 5 Pin
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. Best Bow Sight: Truglio Carbon XS
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 the while, still being pretty budget friendly.
3. Best Bow Sight: Field Logic IQ 5 PIN
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. Best Bow Sight: Truglio Range-Rover Pro-Led
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. Best Bow Sight: Topoint Archery 3 PIN
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.
Archery Shooting Positions: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s a Stance?
A: A good stance is a needed foundation for every shot. A stance should give you stability and let you repeat it consistently every time you arch, in order to perfect the form.
There’s more to a stance than where you put your feet. Your shoulders, back, hips, head, knees, all play a part as well.
But foot positioning is normally what people are talking about when they talk about finding a stance.
Foot position will determine where your hips and shoulders are naturally pointed. Let’s look at a few stances.
Q: What’s a Closed Stance?
A: A closed stance is the mirror of an open stance. With this position, it turns your back foot away from the target. At the same time, it keeps your front foot angled toward it.
This stance puts your shoulders and hips in a natural position pointing away from each other. It forces you to twist your middle towards the target to aim your bow and arrow.
A closed stance brings the bow and string closer to your body than an open stance could. It lessens any clearance between the string and your chest, elbow, and forearm.
Some archers find they feel they have more stability and strength using a closed stance over an open stance. This position gives you more control.
A closed stance may be useful if you want to increase the draw length of the archer. This is because the extra reach of the arms is required as you draw the bow around yourself, which is a form specific to this position.
Q: What’s an Open Stance?
A: The basic open stance turns your front-foot outwards. The front foot is the foot nearest the target. The angle of turn is meant to be around 30 degrees outwards. 30 degrees isn’t necessarily the standard, but a guide.
Turning your foot like this also positions your hips and shoulders in an open form toward the target. Try it out yourself wherever you are reading this from.
You can do this by standing in a square stance, then turning your front foot out towards the target. You’ll immediately feel your hips and shoulders open outwards.
This is a popular stance and you’ll know this because you see it used everywhere. The hip and shoulder rotation increases string clearance past the chest and arm.
That’s because the bow position is now further away from the chest. Increased outwards rotation also further draws on the back muscles, which helps with the feeling of engagement and power with the shot as you draw. Stand ready to box.
Ready to face an imaginary oncoming tackle. Similar to adjusting a car seat to your liking, this stance is a natural preference. You’ll find that this open stance is likely to be the stance that your feet adapt naturally.
Open stances give you the best foot position for keeping stable in windy conditions. They are useful in outdoor target disciplines like a field, 3D archery, and hunting.
Q: What’s a Natural Stance?
A: Another type of open stance is one that can be called a ‘natural’ stance. This is where the back foot is set in an open stance that is also slightly turned towards the target.
It turns the hips and shoulders towards the target even more naturally and fully than the open stance. You may find that this is best for you. The natural stance may be your preferred ‘ready for anything’ stance and you may feel more stable using it, which is understandable.
This, just as stances in any sport, could be preferred because of hip flexibility or just your body’s makeup.
A natural stance will increase engagement with the shot even further than an open stance does. It will also increase the clearance between the bow, chest, and arm, giving you more control in the long run.
4 Benefits of Using a Bow and Arrow:
Regardless of if you use a recurve or compound bow, knowing some of the benefits of archery is a gift that will add to your love for the sport. Adding in a bow sight is actually a great way to increase the weight of your bow, and therefore your strength in the long run.
But the benefits of using a bow and arrow go further than just improving physical strength. Mental, social, and emotional strength is built through this sport as well.
All in all, these four points on the benefits of archery don’t even begin to cover it all.
1. Boosts Confidence
The beauty of archery is that your only real opponent is yourself. Your only enemy is yourself. Your only person to beat is you. The downside to this is that your mind is against you, but if you overcome your own mind, you will be able to achieve greatness.
Once you beat your mind, set clear goals and ways you want to improve your aim. Thankfully, in archery, results are based on measurable scores. The more you hit these goals and improve, step by step, your confidence will grow.
More than any other sport you can challenge yourself and see sustainable growth with your own eyes.
2. Increases Balance and Coordination
High-precision and routines are the things that ingrain good shots into the muscle memory of an archer. There is a ton going on and almost no room for error, so that means having good coordination is essential.
The way to get coordination is through practice, which will allow these movements to become instinct.
3. Helps Maintain Mental Health
Mental health is a sport that has a great impact on your mental health. One of the ways it does this is by helping you to clear your head and be in the moment.
You will have to become one with the arrow if you plan on making good shots! Aiming perfectly will show you that you can overcome any and every distraction or mountain in your way.
That you can overcome all mental roadblocks in order to be successful. Archery will help you mentally by showing you how to get rid of procrastination and develop proper organizational skills.
Archery is a social sport and rightfully so. Though you are competing against yourself, you will need tons of help and teamwork in order to become a professional.
There are competitions that are teamwork heavy and in these up to 80 archers will work together to reach their goal, just like in the days of old when archery was a much more widely participated in sport, or a means of survival.
When competing, you will be next to someone with their own target beside you. There are very few sports in the world that operate in this way.
You never know who you will end up next to, and this means making tons of friends with perfect strangers as you go.
Final Thoughts on the Best Bow Sights
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.
My articles appear in Marketing Edge Magazine, on Gizmogrind, and with various Medium publications. But one thing hasn’t changed in all of my life: no matter where I was or what I was doing. I’ve always loved to be outdoors.
A man needs nothing more than a good flannel shirt, a well-worn pair of jeans, and comfortable hiking boots. I don’t go for all the fancy luxury stuff. Suits are uncomfortable and shaving sucks.