Is there any worse feeling?
A good buck finally steps into a clear shooting lane, within bow range, and when you draw back your bow and look to take aim – you can’t see your sight pins. Maybe it’s too dark; maybe the sun is in your eyes; maybe the pins are just blurry. Whatever the reason, not being able to see your pins is a real pain.
Fear not. We’ve got five tips to help you see your sight pins better.
Choose a Sight With Lots of Fiber
Being able to see your sight pins actually starts with choosing the right sight. Many bow sights out there use fiber optic to fill the ends of their sight pins. Makes sense. Having a bright, colored bead to paste on the chest of a deer is a great way to take aim.
But not all fiber optic pins are created equal. Many have very short lengths of fiber optic. The more fiber optic you have, the more light it can gather and transmit to the end you use for aiming. This is especially critical in low light situations. There’s not a lot of light to begin with, so you need as much fiber optic material as possible to gather as much light as possible.
Choose a sight that has lots of fiber optic like what you’ll find on the HHA sight below. There are several sights where the fiber optic wraps completely around the scope housing. That’s a lot of light-gathering material.
If your sight has short, stubby lengths of fiber optic barely longer than the pin itself, count on having trouble seeing your pin when the light is poor.
Increase The Size of Your Pins
A general rule of thumb holds that the smaller your sight pin, the more precise you can be with aiming. A small sight pin really allows you to zero in on the exact spot where you want your arrow to hit.
However, the smaller the pins, the less light those pins will gather and transmit to the end you use for aiming.
For the most part, the .010 pin is the smallest you’ll find in a hunting sight. Guaranteed you’ll see an improvement in light transmission if you move up to a .019 or .029 pin. Now, the trick is to find the size that still allows you to be precise, but doesn’t cover too much of the target.
Personally, I find the .019 pins to be perfect. I can still see my pins even when it’s too dark to see a deer below my tree stand.
Add a Light
If you don’t want to buy a new sight or change the size of your sight pins, adding a sight light might be a good compromise. What you want is a light that shines onto your fiber optic, but not into your sight picture. Any light that shines on your fiber optic will flow to the end of the pin that you use for aiming.
Some older lights that are still out there floating around used to illuminate the pin heads by shining down through the scope like an overhead street lamp. Well, bowhunters quickly discovered that’s a bad design, because you have to look through that light to see your target. If it’s even a little bit dark, that’s not happening.
A good sight light is one that allows you to control the amount of light transmitted to the fiber optic. If your light just turns on and off, there might be times when your fiber glows so brightly, that you can’t see beyond it to the target. But if you can change the light intensity, you can adjust the pin light to your surroundings.
Ground blind hunters almost definitely will want to add a sight light, because your lighting situation usually is reversed from tree stand hunters. You’re sitting in the dark, shooting out into a lighter environment. That almost always makes your fiber optic pins look black. Add a light and bring the color in those pins to life.
Increase Your Peep Size
The size of your peep directly affects how well – or poorly – you can see your sight pins. The bigger the peep, the more light gets to your eye. The smaller the peep, the less light gets to your eye.
At this point, some of you are wondering if you need a peep at all. There are bowhunters who don’t use them, and therefore, they don’t have to worry about a peep affecting their ability to see in low light.
Well, I’m one archer who believes the advantages of a peep far outweigh the disadvantages. A peep insures that you look through your scope on the same plane every time. Without a peep, it’s much more difficult to achieve that consistency. And even moving up, down, left or right by a small margin is going to change your point of impact. That change grows as the shot distance increases.
For the most part, a quarter-inch peep seems to be big enough to allow a hunter to see the sight in pretty low light, yet is small enough to maintain a consistent eye-to-sight-pin alignment. If your peep is smaller than that, try a quarter-inch. If your peep already is a quarter-inch and you’re having problems seeing your sight, try a 3/16 or 5/16.
Try a Verifier
This is for people who are having difficulty getting a clear sight picture. Either your pins or the target are blurry. A verifier is a lens you put inside specially-designed peeps to help clear up your sight picture.
There are several different lenses available to account for people’s varying sight issues. Be sure to try several different verifiers to find the one that allows you to see both your pins and the target clearly.
If the lens you’re testing makes the target clear, but the pins blurry, then it’s too weak. If the pins are clear, but the target is blurry, then the lens is too strong.
Being able to see your sight pins clearly as you take aim at a big buck is critical to your success. If you’re having trouble with that, don’t just keep plodding along in the dark, hoping for the best. Try one, some, or all of these five tips for better pin vision and see if your shooting success doesn’t improve.