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Single pin bow sights: Are they really better?

Multiple and single pin bowsights

There is no denying that bowhunters are extremely lucky with the equipment choices we have these days. With hunting season just around the corner, this is a great time to discuss single pin slider sights and multiple pin sights.

Two tough choices: Single pin sight or multi-pin sight?

  • Fixed pin bow sights. These are usually a stack of pins ranging from 20 to 60 yards.
  • Single pin movable slider type. These allow the pin to be adjusted to the exact yardage and can either be set up as a single pin or multiple pins, with a “floater” pin variable that enables you to adjust for yardages past the bottom pin.

Obviously, there are a lot of advantages for each variation. The current market is dominated by fixed pin sights and the simple truth behind this market trend is more bowhunters are accustomed to hunting with this style of sight. 

Regardless of the fixed pin sight popularity, I am a huge fan of single pin moveable sights. As someone constantly trying to find the perfect means to pump out accuracy and improve my chances for a clean kill each year, I am always on the lookout for a product that suits my needs — even if it means modifying a product so that it does. That said, I will do my best to explain why I prefer single pin moveable sights over fixed pin sights. Even long-standing fixed pins users may see the benefits of using a single pin slider type sight. If not, that is O.K. Just remember that you should always shoot what is the most comfortable to you.

Sight picture clutter
 

Multiple pin sight picture
Multiple pin sight picture.

Fixed-pin sights come in many different variations with configurations of pins in either a vertical line from the top or bottom or a horizontal line from the right or left side of the scope housing. There is one main thing that they all have in common: clutter! When you increase the number of pins, you actually create blind spots because the pins obstruct your view. A five to seven pin sight will obstruct at least 40 to 45% of your sight picture. This sight picture obstruction has the potential to increase the amount of time it takes for you to focus on the kill zone, which could lead to a missed shot opportunity. A single pin allows the bowhunter to keep their entire sight picture as clear as possible.

Clutter equals confusion

When you have four or seven or even nine pins in your scope housing, it can lead to confusion when you are trying to decide what pin to use. From a clarity standpoint, the best situation here would be a vertical stack of pins or a single pin. Difficulty can also arise during these situations when you are looking to find that fourth pin from the top or that red pin next to the orange pin. Even numbering your pins with tiny pieces of paper is confusing and only further adds to cluttering up your sight window.
 

Single pin sight picture
Single pin sight picture.

While shooting at archery shops ranges, I eventually hear someone say, “Dang…I just used my 50 pin instead of my 40 pin,” as their arrow sails beyond the target. Another thing to consider with today’s bows reaching speeds upwards of 350 fps is that pin gaps are going to be extremely small. This means that your 20, 30 and 40 yard pins might be stacked next to each other making it tough to decipher which pin to use. This would also be further emphasized based on how close your sight housing is to your riser. The closer your sight housing is, the smaller the yardage gaps will be; the further your sight housing is from the riser, the larger the yardage gaps.

Remove the guess work on pin gap

Sight tape allows for precise yardage adjustments

On a fixed pin sight, pins are normally set for 10 yard increments. How often have you had a deer stop or stalk close to one bedded down at 20, 30 or 40 yards for a shot? I cannot think of many shots that I have had while bowhunting that have been easy whole number yardages. It is for this reason that I normally practice at varying distances. I can easily adjust my moveable sight to any yardage and know what my setup does at each location. Choosing the right pin in the heat of the moment is one of the major disadvantages of the multi-pin bow sight when compared to a single-pin slider model.

Continued below.

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For odd yardages that do not exactly fit on your pins, it is easy to say that you will just hold over or under your 40 to 50 yard stack of pins if a deer appears at 44 yards, but when you are facing this actual scenario, selecting the right pin and knowing which one to hold over or under when you are already shaking with adrenaline is incredibly difficult. When you are drawn into the moment, my guess is that you will forget to hold your 40 yard pin high enough and you will possibly shoot under the deer or select the wrong pin. I have experienced it myself when I used fixed pins while hunting.

Pin gap on increased distances

You have crawled on your stomach for hours and are now 65 yards away from a buck that is bedded parallel to your location with no wind and the buck is facing away from you. You have been practicing out to 80 yards all summer and are fully confident with a 65 yard shot. Your pin gap at this distance is increasing. Can you effectively hold between the 60 and 70 yard pins and get the correct yardage for the shot? Also, it is important to remember that this pin gap will be magnified if you are shooting a slower bow.

Sight picture clutter

I really dislike the idea of gapping pins for the mental aspect and difficulty of getting pins gapped correctly when you start increasing in yardage. This is a perfect situation where a moveable sight would have been valuable because the antelope was unaware of your presence and you had time to range and set your sight to the correct yardage.

Are moveable sights too slow for hunting?
 

Sight tape on slider sight
The joy of a slider sight is being able to stretch the distance in practice.

The main argument against single pin slider sights are these sights are too slow for hunting and they will cost them a shot if they try to range an animal, move the sight and then come to full draw to execute a shot. It is a common misconception that you only have a few seconds to draw back and release an arrow. If you have time to range an animal, then you have time to adjust a sight to the correct yardage. With practice it becomes second nature to range and adjust your sight. Surprisingly, you can do all this with minimal movement.

Downside to moveable single pin sights

Here's another example: you have a buck at 30 yards, you draw your bow back and he busts you. The deer spooks and runs out to 40 yards, stops and turns back to give you a another chance at a quartering away shot. With a multiple pin sight you can just raise your bow up to your 40 yard pin and release. With a single pin adjustable sight you would either have to guess on the 40 yard shot, let down and readjust your pin, which will most likely spook the deer, or develop a pin to use for close encounters and know the drop or rise of the arrow.

 Single pin bowsight while turkey hunting

For those situations when you cannot move your sight on an approaching animal while using a single pin adjustable, you can set your sight ahead of time. This is mainly determined by your bow’s speed. This yardage mark is set to optimize your high and low marks for a set of distances. This is where having a computer software program will aid in what yardage mark to use. You want to find the optimum pin setting to use that will lead to being a few inches high at your low mark and a few inches low at your high mark. This will enable you to get a shot off if an animal comes in really fast (elk hunting) or if you are at full draw and an animal spooks and stops at a reasonable distance away.

Note: Do not just hold your pin at a given distance and expect to be low or high and still in the kill zone. The mentality that a speed bow can have one pin to 40 is clearly not true. There are too many possibilities for error to blindly hold a little high or a little low depending on the yardage. This optimum single pin setting is where a single pin acts like a fixed pin since you are holding over or under for in-between yardages. Take the time to practice at each distance even if you use a computer program to calculate your arrow drop to verify where you need to hold your pin to make a clean shot in a quick situation. Remember, if given the time, you can always move your pin.

How to determine the optimum single pin setting

The average kill zone of a mature deer is estimated at 10 inches. I cut that down to eight inches to ensure I am being as accurate as I can. Next, I personally believe that I can physically and mentally control a plus or minus hold over/under range of four inches in the heat of the moment. What I am referencing is the amount of hold over or hold under I would need to account for if I can't move my single pin. 

Archery program ballistic data arrow drop

My 2015 bow shoots 315 fps, and for me the optimum pin setting would be 34 yards. At this setting, it will be 1.71” high at 10 yards, 3.61” high at 20 yards, dead on at 34 yard and -3.90” low at 40 yards. Each setup is different and you can select what yardage to use based on what you are comfortable doing. After using an archery computer program, take your mark export and take it to a range and practice to visually inspect if the marks the archery software gave you are accurate.

In order to overcome close range and long range shots that happen too quickly for a change in pin setting, become intimately familiar with where your arrow impacts at varying distances prior to the hunt.

Since this can be a difficult task, you are going to want to practice taking shots with your single pin setting at various distances so you can avoid guessing your hold over or under for a single pin set at a close yardage. Practice using your pin at 40, 27.5, 10, 20, etc. Once you have figured out the optimum pin and know what it does at various distances, you can be prepared for those fast situations when you cannot move your pin. If you practice effectively, there is no guessing.

Multiple pin slider?

Another method would be to utilize a multiple pin sight housing on a slider sight and only use a few pins to avoid clutter. For instance, you could set your pins at 20, 30 and 40 yards and have your 40 yard pin be your slider. Doing this will have your sight tape ranging from 40 yards to your end distance. This is the perfect way to cover the short yardages for those quick scenarios when you cannot adjust the sight. The only problem with this method is forgetting to reset the sight back to the original setting in the heat of the moment.

Through personal experience, I have found that if you are about to take a longer shot, you will have time to range and move the pin, simply because you are not going to rush a longer shot. Also, the animal will most likely be relaxed and unaware of your presence.

Hybrid single and multiple pin sight option
 

Trophy Taker Option 6 single and multiple pin sight
Photo credit: Dan Evans, Trophy Taker

If you want the best of both worlds, Trophy Taker recently came out with a Option hybrid sight that combines the reliability of a fixed pin sight and the precision accuracy of a moveable single pin sight into one. The sight can easily be switched from either mode by rotating the pin housing. This is a groundbreaking sight that provides bowhunters with both options. An impressive feature on this sight is the ability to run the slider pin and the multi-pins at the same time. The Option sight series is very well thought out and is a great sight for the technical minded bowhunter.

Advantages and disadvantages of a single pin moveable sight

Advantages Disadvantages
Clear sight picture Quick yardage changes
Cannot use the wrong pin More movement to adjust yardage
Precise aiming (dial pin to exact yardage) Could take more time to get to full draw
Single object to focus on  
Greater field of view  
Faster target acquisition  
No pin gaping  
Adjustability  

 

Advantages and disadvantages of a fixed pin sight

Advantages Disadvantages
Quickly adjust to different pin if animal moves Clutter with so many pins
Low light situations Confusion on what pin to use
Simplicity Guess work on pin gap shooting
Less perceived movement  


While a single pin moveable sight may seem like a difficult task, once you get used to it you will have a reliable setup that can cover any situation you are presented with. Whether it's treestand hunting, spot and stalk or calling in animals during the rut, once you learn how to operate a moveable sight, it will be difficult to go back to fixed pins. Again, I always feel like you have more time than you think when you're getting ready for a shot. After all, you're most likely rangefinding the animal before you draw, so that extra one second it takes to move your slider before you hook up your release isn't going to make or break the situation.

 

 

 

20 Comments

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Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 4 months ago on 07-17-2019 10:11:24 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

You're very welcome! Haha And... I'll definitely see what we can do to allow comment edits :)

Micheal L. - posted 4 months ago on 07-16-2019 12:57:46 pm
Orting, Wa
goHUNT INSIDER

Hey Brady! Thanks for your reply. I will look into those programs. I have no further questions at this time.

PS Can you please tell GoHUNT programmers to allow for editing of submitted comments, so I do not sound so... dumb, when people read my grammatical errors? Thanks again!

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 4 months ago on 07-16-2019 10:58:53 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hey Michael. Welcome to the wonderful world of bowhunting and especially bowhunting elk. The program in the screenshot above was from The Archery Program. But you can also do the same general thing with Archers Advantage. Both programs are great, but I now use Archers Advantage because I can access it all online, and The Archery Program doesn't work with a Mac, and my old PC computer is one that I prefer to not use anymore.

With that said, I highly suggest checking out both of the programs to see which one you like best.

For all the data, junk in is junk out. So I take as precise of measurements as I can and import them into the program. I use all the information from my actual bow. So FPS, arrow weight, etc are my own weights inputted into Archers Advantage.

Happy to help if you have any other questions.

Micheal L. - posted 4 months ago on 07-15-2019 08:55:59 pm
Orting, Wa
goHUNT INSIDER

Great article! I currently use a single pin sight. I am new to archery hunting and have not got close enough to elk to even have drawn my bow. I feel like this year will happen and I want to be prepared for those quick shots. What program did you use in the screen shot above? Which program can I use to establish now own? Did you use fps based on your recorded velocity or from your bows specs? Sorry for the multiple questions, but this is a hot topic while I prepare for this upcoming season.

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 5 months ago on 06-11-2019 04:11:23 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hey Henry. Glad you enjoyed the article! I'm not really familiar with that brand of bowsight, and actually, haven't even heard of it before until you mentioned it. If I was looking to spend some money on a new bowsight, I might look toward more trusted brands. I'm sure that one you mentioned would seal the deal, but you could get all the same features if you went with the Trophy Ridge version. In my opinion, Black Gold, Spot Hogg and CBE make some of the best quality bowsights around. I've been using the same Black Gold bowsight that was pictured in this article for eight years and it is still going strong. Hope all is well. If you have any more questions, let me know. You can also check out some great bowsight options here: https://shop.gohunt.com/collections/archery/sights

Henry J. - posted 5 months ago on 06-11-2019 06:47:19 am

Very nice article, I must say you cleared up a lot of confusion. I'm glad I found this info because I'm looking for the best bow sight for the money. What do you think about the GWS ProHunter AR Series bow sight? It's a single pin sight, but I'm not sure if it's the best out there in terms of quality. I've read an article that rated this bow sight at number 5 (https://www.outeroptics.com/bow-sights/). Any advice if I should purchase it? Many thanks!

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 2 years ago on 03-25-2017 02:08:18 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Thanks again everyone! Glad you enjoyed the article.

@Jeremy S. - That sight is a Montana Black Gold - Pure Driven 75 single pin with a 6" dovetail. It was one of their prototypes that I still use today. I painted it myself since I don't like glare on any of my hunting stuff. You can see that sight here: http://purebowsights.com/bowsight-pure-driven

Jeremy S. - posted 2 years ago on 03-25-2017 09:33:25 am

Good article thanks. I was wondering what is the brown movable sight that is pictured in the article?

Michael_Bauman
Michael B. - posted 2 years ago on 02-16-2017 11:49:46 pm
Simi Valley, CA
goHUNT INSIDER

Great article Brady! I switched to the Spot Hogg Fast Eddie last year and instantly noticed improved accuracy. I highly recommend a single pin, moveable sight to any archer, young or old.

russwhite98
Russell W. - posted 2 years ago on 01-30-2017 03:01:19 pm
Highlands Ranch, CO

Great timing for this article! I'm in the market for a new site this year so I will keep this comparison handy. I guess my only drawback would be making the switch from something that I've become accustomed to over the years of hunting.

scott.lewis60
Scott L. - posted 2 years ago on 01-30-2017 10:33:40 am
Mohave Co., Arizona
goHUNT INSIDER

Thanks Brady, Like you, I don't think I'll ever go back to the multi-pin system. That's not to say they aren't good and effective, they've clearly proven themselves over the decades. I previously used a 5-pin Trophy Ridge and enjoyed it very much. However, having now switched to the IQ single pin, I love it. What I need to do is find a way to obtain or make a tape indicating my yardages so I can quickly dial it in. Any suggestions?

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 2 years ago on 01-30-2017 09:06:23 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Scott - Glad you're enjoying a single pin sight. I know that I'm never switching away from a single pin.

@Charles - I've gone back and forth through the years using The Archery Program and Archers Advantage. I'm now leading more toward Archers Advantage for all my sight tape and arrow building needs. I really like that I can use a Mac computer with Archers Advantage and the program can be used online from any computer. You honestly can't go wrong with either. I've used both extensively.

Charles_Glenn
Charles G. - posted 2 years ago on 01-30-2017 07:56:51 am
Little Rock, AR
goHUNT INSIDER

What computer program do you recommend?

scott.lewis60
Scott L. - posted 2 years ago on 01-29-2017 08:59:00 am
Mohave Co., Arizona
goHUNT INSIDER

Brady, while I don't disagree with what you've said. From a strictly personal perspective, the single pin site has been a significant improvement in my accuracy. Phil's comments are spot-on. I don't see the pin causing any real difficulties in distances, given the proximity we archers strive for. And Kevin's comment stating training on your equipment is the heart of shot placement. You have to practice with what you have, become proficient with it and know it's limits.

Brady J. Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 years ago on 06-22-2016 09:24:56 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hi Hunter. That sight you are referring to is a Pure Driven 75 in a single pin with a six inch dovetail. I am running an older prototype model... but the new features are the same and most likely better. You can check them out here: http://purebowsights.com/bowsight-pure-driven

I custom painted that sight myself to remove glare. That is my all-time favorite sight.

Hunter Jones_1216182411749103
Hunter J. - posted 3 years ago on 06-21-2016 07:03:20 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

What is the above brown single pin sight

Chad W. - posted 4 years ago on 07-16-2015 01:44:42 pm

I purchased the above mentioned trophy taker sight and guys it is awesome!!!! I've shot fixed pins for 20 plus years but switched to a single mover over this past offseason and loved the accuracy results for in between yardage settings however, the idea of having a bulging bull this fall that stays on the move after I set the yardage dial was a reoccurring nightmare that I kept having. Now I really feel I'm ready for that bull that temporarily stops at 62 yards without giving me Shot but then comes in to 30 yards and vice versa. By the way after talking to the folks at trophy taker I got mine with 6 pins "5 fixed and 1 mover" in the option 8 housing to allow me to have a full 100 yard setting for the mover but it cuts down the confusion with having a bunch of pins.

lukegudgel
Luke G. - posted 4 years ago on 07-16-2015 11:41:30 am
goHUNT INSIDER

G5 XR2 works great for me. One fixed pin at 25, the movable at 40. Covers 90% of my shots. On longer shots, I typically have time to range and adjust. It could be a bit more "bomb-proof" though.

Kevin_Boswell
Kevin B. - posted 4 years ago on 07-10-2015 09:10:56 pm
Oceanside, CA
goHUNT INSIDER

Great comparison! The Bottom Line here is that no matter what you have, you have to train on the equipment that you have so that you can make that ethical shot. Time to purchase that single pin and train with it!

philip.bondurant
Phil B. - posted 4 years ago on 07-08-2015 08:58:56 pm
Heber City, UT
goHUNT INSIDER

Brady- Single pins are the way to go. To fix the scenario of a buck moving after you have set your yardage, I use the "trick pin" setup.
This setup is specific to each bow and takes a few hours to figure out. But once you have it dialed in, anything under 45-50 yds (depending on your setup) uses the pin in the fixed location
For a single pin shooter, the trick pin is a must and makes the single pin unbeatable.