Determining which single pin bow sight to buy can be a challenge. We can debate all day about which one is the best, but the most important question to answer is which one is the best for you. A big part of archery and bowhunting is having total confidence in your gear. That’s why our goal in choosing a sight is always to determine which one we trust the most. This is a gut feeling that varies from person to person.
Choosing a sight largely comes down to personal preference. However, it is also important to think practically when purchasing a sight. Having the latest high-end gear is attractive but not always necessary depending on the application. There are many different variables here. A lot of hunting East of the Mississippi is done from treestands at closer distances. Hunting out West generally requires shooting at much higher angles and sometimes further distances. Some hunters don’t like to shoot much beyond 40 yards or so, while others like to try their skills at much longer distances. This article will discuss everything you need to know. To see some of the best single pin bow sights on the market, read our our review.
Styles of Single Pin Bow Sights
Single pin sliding sights use a simple lever to adjust for shooting distance. These sights are generally cheaper and lighter than sights with a dial. However, they are not always quite as precise due the difference in sight tapes. Sights with a lever adjustment have a sight tape in the rear of the sight, but they are generally marked in larger increments and not for every yard. One of the biggest downsides to these sights is that they are harder to use with a quiver mounted. Levered sights are also a little more limited in regards to how far you can shoot. They simply run out of travel at around 70-80 yards for most bows. Bottom line, these sights are great for most hunters and general shooters, but you may want to evaluate other options for special applications.
Dials and Wheels
Single pin sights with a dial or wheel are a definite step up from simple lever adjusting sights. These sights are easier to use and allow for greater precision. They are also generally capable of shooting at much further distances. The only downside is that tend to cost significantly more than levered sights. Whether spending the extra money is worth it or not for you depends on the application. For any kind of long distance shooting you will be best suited with a wheel or dial.
You will also want to pay attention to the type of dial design, front-mounted or rear-mounted. Sights with the dial or wheel mounted in the front of the sight are typically more user-friendly that rear mounts. The reason for this is quiver clearance. Sights like the HHA Optimizer Ultra or Truglo Range Rover tend to have issues with quiver clearance due to their rear-dial designs. On the other hand, sights like the Black Gold Ascent Verdict or Spot Hogg Fast Eddie have fronted dials and don’t interfere with the quiver.
Key Features and Considerations
Windage, Elevation, and Micro Adjust
Windage and elevation adjustments play a critical role in the setup of your sight. They also come into play anytime you make changes to your setup, such as changing arrow types. There are two types of adjustments, standard or micro-adjust. On standard adjustments you loosen a screw and slide the sight housing one way or another. Micro-adjustments typically have a locking knob that you loosen by hand which allows you to turn the micro-adjust knob to move the housing.
2nd and 3rd Axis Adjustment
Typically, 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments are only used by intermediate to advanced level shooters. However, not all single pin bow sights have them. 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments allow archers to get the sight housing completely aligned to the bow. The 2nd axis is the most important for archers to set correctly. Setting this axis ensures that the level on your sight is reading correctly and is not misaligned to your bow riser. This will help prevent left and right misses at longer yardages due to canting. Setting the 3rd axis is very important for anyone shooting at extreme vertical angles. However, it is not a factor when shooting on flat ground.
When choosing a sight, don’t overlook 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments like some archers do. Remember, not all sights have this capability. If you are looking to improve your shooting at longer ranges it is critical that you have at minimum a 2nd axis adjustment. To learn more about 2nd and 3rd axis check out this video by John Dudley.
Sight Tape Kits
Sight tape kits are an essential pairing with any single pin bow sight. Thankfully, most manufacturers include a sight tape kit with their products. Every brand offers their own style of sight tapes with a slightly different appearance and method of setup. Generally, setup includes shooting at two different distances and then following the manufacturer’s instructions to find which tape matches your arrow speed. Another thing to look out for is how precisely a sight tape kit is marked. Some kits are marked in 1 yard increments and others in 5 yard increments. Tapes with each yard marked take out the guess work that is involved when using 5 yard markings.
Bottom line, don’t forget to take a look at what kind of sight tapes come with a sight before you make your purchase. This will save you any surprises and ensure you have a kit that works for your application. Generally, 3D and other competitive shooters will want to have tapes marked for every yard. Depending on what and where you are hunting, you can get by using a tape with 5 yard increments. An alternative option is to use a software or service to make custom sight tapes for your sight.
Made in the USA
One additional consideration that archers sometimes have with their gear is where it’s made. We like to support companies that make their products in the USA as much as possible. HHA, Spot Hogg, and Black Gold are some of the most popular manufacturers known for having bow sights Made in the USA. These companies are also known for having some of the best customer service in the industry.
How to Choose the Best Single Pin Bow Sight For You
The first thing you should think about when choosing a single pin bow sight is how you plan to use it. Many archers have a limit on the amount of time they spend practicing and hunt only a few days per year. Others spend months practicing for the hunting season and spend large chunks of time in the field. There are also some archers who are more active still, shooting tournaments in addition to practice and hunting. The more casual shooters in the first category typically will look for affordable sights that aren’t too complicated. Folks in the middle category will want to balance price with quality and features. Archers who are extremely active in the sport will look to get the absolute best gear regardless of cost.
Your choice of sight should also be influenced by where you plan to hunt. The different terrain and variables of hunting in a Western setting are far different than an Eastern setting. You should absolutely purchase a sight with 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments if you plan to hunt anywhere that will require you to shoot at extreme angles. Western hunting also typically warrants more durable gear if you are camping overnight in remote areas. Out there, a sight failure could be the end of a week long hunt.
Another thing to consider when choosing a single pin bow sight are the distances that you plan on shooting. There are a lot of hunters out there who are fine never shooting beyond 50-60 yards. If you fall into this category most sights will meet the distance requirement. However, if you are an archer who likes to shoot long range, or are looking to work up to long shots, there is more to consider.
For starters, you will want a sight with enough vertical travel to get to the distance you want to shoot. Some sights simply don’t have enough range of motion to get beyond 80 or so yards. Others can travel low enough to hit your arrow, at which point you have maxed out. It is also recommended to have a sight with 2nd axis adjustment if you are shooting long ranges. One last thing to look at for long distance shooter is whether or not the sight will accept a magnifying lens.
Pin size is another choice you will have to make. Most sights come in a variety of pin sizes. The most common sizes are .010(the smallest), .019, and .029(the largest). This choice is almost entirely a personal preference. However, the general rule is that smaller pins are better for longer ranges and larger pins for closer ranges. Large pins cover too much of the target at long distances. Some people like larger pins due to having less than perfect eyesight. When in doubt, the .019 pin is a happy medium.
Sight weight is a concern for some and afterthought for others. If you are looking to shave weight there are a few options out there made from carbon that will be the absolute lightest. There are also lightweight aluminum sights that are a few ounces lighter than average. Other single pin sights fall on the heavy end of the spectrum. The heaviest sights are usually specialized in some way, hence the extra weight.
There is a lot to think about when choosing which single pin bow sight you want to buy. It’s best to take it slow, compare multiple options, and have a clear understanding of each. However, it’s worth the effort to avoid ending up with a sight that you hate. Ideally, you will find a sight that you love and that works perfectly for your setup and application.