Smaller pin improves overall accuracy. Extremely easy to mount and dial in. Improves groupings almost immediately.
Actual product/model may not match description on website. Mounting a quiver is challenging. No mounting hardware.
Includes windage and elevation marks plus a bubble level. Small 3-pin sight is neon colored for improved visibility. Solid aluminum construction, very little plastic.
Does not perform well in low-light situations. Instruction book not included. Limited range of adjustment for a recurve bow.
IQ sighting system provides corrective feedback. Micro-adjust screws improve groupings quickly. Does not require tools for installation or adjustments.
Heavier than others on our shortlist. Pins are not color coded for distances. Retina lock difficult to dial in.
Works well with existing peep sights. Pins are extremely easy to see. Retina lock feature improves groupings with or without a peep sight.
Does not fit all bow models. Alignment can be a tedious process without visual feedback. Large retina lock feature blocks top of sight.
You’ve shifted from the basic beginner’s recurve bow to a more advanced bow – maybe even a compound bow with plenty of bells and whistles. But the archery sight may not have kept up with the improved bow or your growing skill.
Whether you plan to compete in archery tournaments, hunt game, or target practice for recreation, you still need a quality archery sight, but which one?
Read on to learn about what makes a good archery sight, features to consider, and how much you can expect to spend on a quality product.
For beginning archers, learning to aim properly involves much more than peering through a sight, so purchasing an expensive archery sight with all the bells and whistles doesn’t make sense. However, as your skill grows and you take on new archery challenges, an improved sight opens up a world of possibilities, whether you’re hunting or target shooting for fun.
As long as the sight fits your bow properly, the type of bow you have plays only a small role in the type of sight you purchase. Recurve, longbows, and compound bows all have different requirements for mounting sights. The type of archery sight you buy depends on a few factors:
Target (what you plan to aim at)
Distance from the target
Time of day (or night)
Check your bow for pre-drilled mounting points or accessory attachment points, or take it to a pro shop to determine which types of sights will (or won’t) fit your bow. If you’re in the market for a new bow, the salesperson should know what sights would fit the bow you’re considering.
Open ring archery sight
This is a good sight for beginning archers and those using recurve bows. It works best at short range. It is also easy to use: simply align the target in the center of the circle and release the arrow.
Price: Open ring sights cost about $19 to $99.
This is a low-tech but popular option because of its versatility. Many skilled archers use a pin sight exclusively and swear by it for its accuracy. Because a pin sight can have a variety of additional features, such as illumination and laser assistance, prices vary widely.
Price: Pin sights range in price from $16 to $280, depending on added features.
This type of sight helps archers align the bowstring and sight pin to establish an anchor point by peering through a small aperture. It can be a big help in sighting the target correctly.
Price: Peep sights cost from $10 to $42.
This movable sight allows you to shift a single pin up and down to the exact estimated distance of the target, sometimes at full draw. Adjustable sights eliminate the need for multiple pins.
Price: Adjustable sights range in price from $42 to $290.
This sight automatically adjusts for elevation, such as when shooting from a tree stand, giving the archer one less thing to worry about.
Price: Pendulum sights cost from $65 to $120.
Laser sights project a beam of red light onto the target, making them good for low-light situations. However, the farther away the target, the less intense the beam, which can affect accuracy.
Price: Laser sights cost from $31 to $125.
Red dot sights
These sights reflect a light beam back to the sight. They are considered more accurate than single-beam laser sights.
Price: Red dot sights cost from $30 to $1,000.
The newest type of archery sight, the holographic sight, projects a targeting reticle on a heads-up display within the sight. It works well in bright- and low-light conditions.
Price: Holographic sights cost from $130 to $500.
Reticle inserts: These clear gels with an alignment pattern printed on them help archers line up their shots more precisely. Reticle inserts are often sold with or as accessories to open sights.
Iris: Open ring sights may have an adjustable “iris” or aperture that can reduce or increase the diameter of the aiming circle to help with accuracy.
Pins: Pin sights can have one, two, three, or more pins. The number of pins doesn’t necessarily mean improved aim. For example, many hunters only use single-pin sights because this eliminates aiming mistakes that come from using the wrong pin.
Illumination: Pin sights that are illuminated can be a big help in low-light situations because archers can use the illuminated tips to line up correctly on the target. However, some archers find them to be a hindrance because they can be too bright and make the target itself hard to see. These sights are generally either battery-powered fiber-optic lights or glow-in-the-dark tritium paint at the tip of the pin. You can easily guess that the biggest drawback to battery-powered sight illumination is the battery!
Elevation and windage adjustments: These are vertical and horizontal adjustments that compensate for the angle that the target is from the shooter, and for the wind speed, which will alter the arrow’s course. Make sure these adjustments can be made easily. Some sights use adjustment knobs, while others must be adjusted using an allen wrench.
Built-in bubble level: Not every sight has one, but a level can help archers hold the bow vertically and keep it from canting to one side or the other, which can affect the arrow’s trajectory.
In archery, the sight isn’t the only factor when it comes to accuracy. Your stance, body position, and even the way you release the arrow can all affect your aim and accuracy.
When shopping for a sight, consider whether features like adjustment knobs or GPS locators will be useful to you or just expensive add-ons you’ll never use.
Some states may not allow electronic archery sights for hunting. Check local regulations before using laser, red dot, or holographic sights to hunt.
If you need to adjust elevation and windage frequently on a pin sight, a “gang adjustment” feature makes this easier by enabling all the pins to be adjusted together.
Q. Is it better to buy more than one archery sight for different distances or just one sight with multiple aiming pins?
A. The biggest consideration in choosing a sight is where you hunt. East Coast hunting has different sight requirements than hunting in the Rockies. Generally, those east of the Mississippi are hunting at ranges of less than 40 yards. There’s no need for more than one or two pins at that distance. In the west, ranges can increase to 60 yards or more, increasing the need for multiple sight pins. For those who will only be shooting at set targets, consider the typical distance(s) at which you’ll be shooting. If it’s usually the same distance every time, a single-pin sight is fine. If you target shoot at multiple distances, choose a two- or three-pin sight.
Also, at short ranges of up to 35 yards with a bow that shoots arrows on a flat trajectory, one pin is usually sufficient.
Q. I use a recurve bow with no sight, and I don’t have a great target shooting average. Which sight will help me improve my aim?
A. For archers, accuracy involves more than aligning their eye with the sight. Stance, body position, and even the way you release the arrow all affect aim and accuracy. To test this, try shooting several arrows at a target positioned just ten yards away. Use a recurve bow with no sight, and then try it using a bow with an attached sight (borrow one if necessary). If your aim doesn’t improve much between the two, then the sight isn’t the issue. Work on your overall shooting form.
Q. Why do archery sights with similar features vary so widely in price?
A. As anyone who has shopped for a bow sight is aware, the price of the same basic type of sight can vary by hundreds of dollars. Pin sights are a good example of this: at the lower end, $40 is a reasonable price to pay, and some are as low as $16. Higher-end pin sights can reach $280 or more. It has to do with the materials used along with additional features like light-beam range finders, adjustment knobs, sight lighting, and even GPS locators. When shopping for a sight, consider each of these features and whether they will be useful for what you’re using the sight for or just a pricey but unnecessary add-on.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.