Archery Target Sights And Scopes

Archery sights, also known as bow scopes, are devices usually mounted on the bow riser so that you can aim your bow to ensure a more perfect and centered arrow flight and contact to the final target that you are aiming. 

The amazing technology behind today’s sights allow the archer to have a better view of where the arrow is pointed reducing error in flight path. After all, the whole idea of using a bow (for most people) is to be as accurate as possible. 

All archers are looking for a perfect result, and the field archer is looking to have more accuracy from varying distances and elevations of terrain.

Similar to the sights used in hunting and other target sports, bow sights are designed to help archers from all categories of archery. To help them gain more control of where their arrow will penetrate. 

Types Of Archery Target Sights And Scopes

1. Fixed Pin Sights

This category of archery bow sight is considered the most common choice for today’s archer. These bow sights most commonly provide anywhere from three to five pins.

If you are aiming an arrow at close range, then the top pin will be used while looking through the sight scope. The bottom pin is used for longer distances. Notice as you look at the lower pins how your bow will rise above the horizon in it’s angle.

This compensates for the longer distance and arrow drop due to the law of gravity we’re all familiar with. We recommend setting each individual sight pin before heading out on your next field outing and adventure.

Once you learn how to set your pins and become efficient, you can then choose to set them and readjust them in a short amount of time while in the woods or in the field.

It’s also good to learn how to set them quickly and easily so you can adjust them in the woods if you drop your bow or branches and limbs bump your sight forcing it out of adjustment.

When setting each pin you must come up with three to five distances that will not be difficult to remember. Most field archers will do this by using specific increments. These increments will depend on the type of field archery you are doing each time you go out.

We would recommend sticking with ten or twenty yard increments of distance for each sight pin.

Even though these settings are “fixed” by tightening each pin, they can still be adjusted over and over. In fact, there are some instances where field archers will have to readjust their pins in the field.

If you are good at judging unknown distances then this will be a simple process. However, if you are still increasing your knowledge around this skill-set, it will take a little trial and error so do it on the archery range first until you get really good at it.

2. Movable or Single Pin Sights

Unlike the fixed pins which most commonly offer three to five distance sets, these movable pin sights are designed with one pin. The purpose for these is to be able to adjust the sight for your next arrow.

The design of the single pin movable sight is for the entire housing unit to move and slide either up or down.

Properly adjusting a moveable pin sight can be done in a matter of seconds. It’s important to remember to use the guide of the white tape along the rear of the sight. This tape provides you with the opportunity to mark what the current distance measures.

Once you have done this you can then use it whenever needed. This is a great benefit. It allows you to simply move the pointer based on the current distance situation.  Most importantly is the fact that you create it (unless the sight comes with pre-made distance tape), so use whatever is helpful for your hunting strategy.

If you need a little help getting started then it’s a good idea to make larger marks (similar to what you see on a ruler) for the normal distances of five or ten yard increments. Once these marks are in place you can make smaller marks for all distances in between these ranges (e.g. 12 yards, 17 yards, etc.).

3. Pendulum or Treestand Sights

Every field archer understands the difference between being on level ground, uneven terrain, or elevated areas. These elevated areas require a different type of sight.

One which will compensate for those tough downhill releases of your arrow. Most treestand archers spend more time on the ground than in tree stands. This means accurately judging these yardages can be a little more difficult.

Treestand archers who use a pendulum sight in these situations will become more accurate almost instantly.  It might take several arrow releases to fully understand how these sights work.

This is only because the sight pin will swing out and up to compensate for the angle changes. These Pendulum sights are very different from fixed and movable pin sights. This means you should take the time to understand this version of bow sight before using it.

Most of these Pendulum sights are not designed to work on the ground or for archers on uneven terrain. These sights are specifically built to help field archers with short-range shots and downhill angles.

If you do not use your bow in an elevated position, a tree stand sight is not for you. Conversely if you do then it’s a must have while out in the field and in the woods.

4. Competition Sights

If you are looking for a competition sight, also known as a flat target sight, then you probably already know these sights are not designed for archers in the field.

There are plenty of field archers that use them from time to time, but based on the cost alone, it isn’t recommended that these be a “first choice” option.

However, competition sights have tons of features that will make a field archer salivate.  Individuals interested in a little competition will love the technology and sophistication associated with each one of these. 

Watch this video and it will show you exactly what to expect if you decide to get a competition sight. Keep in mind they are more expensive than a normal pin sight setup and not recommended for use in the field. 

See this video to help understand the makeup of a competition sight and how each part operates and fits together.

The optimal word to describe competition sights is precision. Competition sights are built to provide exact precision, and the investment for these can be quite costly. 

We definitely do not recommend them for field outing purposes. If you are planning on entering an archery tournament however, it’s imperative that you purchase the right one.

Martin Hamilton

Archery lover and compound bow enthusiast. Love all types of archery. The current technology in compound bows, crossbows, recurve bows and arrows is truly amazing. I was an airline mechanic for years and got introduced to advanced composites. Great to see them put to use in this amazing sport.

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