What Do the Pins Mean on a Bow Sight

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What do pins mean on a bow sight – Each pin represents a distance that you beforehand sighted your bow in at. In other words, if you are hunting and “all of a sudden” the whitetail deer of your dreams appear at approximately 30 yards from you – you know which pin to use for aiming. 

How to Sight in a Bow Sight With 1 Pin

Try shooting a group at 20 yards with your single-pin sight. Now, let’s assume that you are not happy with the results. Time to sight-in!

Windage and elevation are adjustable. The windage pin moves left and right, whereas the elevation pin slides up or down. Move your sight toward your group until your arrows hit where you aim. This is basically a trial and error process. You keep going until you’re comfortable with the results. 

Tipp: Don’t lose any screws when adjusting the pins.

Target Archery

Suppose you’re into target archery. You are pretty much always shooting at the same distance, and your target won’t move. Take it slow and make adjustments as you go. Don’t worry about perfection. Just keep on going until you hit your target. When you’re there, fine-tune the sight by inching it in the direction you want.

Multiple Distances and Single-Pin Slider Sights

You’ll need a sight tape if you want to shoot multiple distances with a one-pin slider sight. You can stick sight tapes to your sight and mark different distances on them. Now, you could make your own sight tapes or buy them at an archery shop. If you are a beginner, I suggest purchasing some of the printed ones. They have numbers printed on them, so they will be easier for you to use.

Sight Tapes


Source: https://fusearchery.com/

You should start by sighting in your bow at 20 yards. Put a piece of medical tape on your sight (indicator needle). Time to shoot some arrows. Once you are happy with your grouping, mark the tape on your sight. Now go for the furthest distance. You can consistently shoot tight groups. Move your sight until your groups are tight for that distance too. Mark the tape again. 

Bring your sight back to the 20-yard mark and lock it down. Remove the tape from your sight and compare your distance marks on the 20 and farthest distance.

Pick a sight tape (see above, one of the bought ones, from a shop) that most closely matches the distance marks you made on the tape. Time to cut the matching one out and put it on your sight (Needle pointing at 20 yards). 

Shoot some arrows at various distances and make sure you get good results.

How to Use Multi-Pin Sights


Diamond Deploy 4-Pin Sight

Moving the sight housing allows you to adjust for varying heights of targets. You can move the sight housing in different directions (up, down, left, right). Sight pins can be moved up and down too. 

For the closest distance, use your top pin, and for the furthest, use your bottom pin.

Sight in top pin first

Shoot three arrows and if you are not happy with the results, loosen the screw that lets you move the sight housing left and right. Make adjustments accordingly – shoot another three arrows to check your adjustments. Do you hit where you aimed? Awesome! If not – move the sight housing again.

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The top pin should remain in the upper third of your sight housing. You can remove the screw that lets you move the sight housing if you run out of space to move your pin. Finally, after you have adjusted the housing to your needs, fine-tune the sight by moving the pin.

Repeat the sighting for all distances/pins you are comfortable and skilled enough to shoot safely. You know what distance you’re comfortable and good at, right? Your goal should always be to be able to execute an ethical shot.


PSE Uprising 3-Pin Sight


5-Yard Distance Increments

What increments should your sight marks be? Basically, this comes down to your personal preferences. If your sight has 5 or more pins, 5-yard increments will work just fine. The advantages are that you basically have a pin for every “shootable” distance. Also, less gap shooting and, if you happen to use a rangefinder, even more confident shooting. 

Keep in mind, though, that the pins will be pretty close together. When the adrenalin rushes through your veins – it’s easy to choose the wrong pin. Likewise, a lot of the target view can be blocked out by pins too close together.

10-Yard Distance Increments

From what I see, 10-yard increments are also commonly used amongst hunters. If you have a 3-pin sight, and when you are starting out with a 20-yard pin – 10-yard increments will give you plenty of room to achieve accuracy and allow for a good view of your target! Another benefit is that it’s also easier to track which pin to use, and with sufficient room between the pins, gap shooting becomes much more accurate.

One of the disadvantages of larger increments is that your accuracy will be more affected by things like arrow drop or form issues when shooting longer distances. Holding over or holding under is getting harder at 50 yards than at 25 yards.

Depending on your liking and style, find the increments and sight you are most comfortable with. It basically comes down to your personal preferences. The goal should be to get as sufficient and precise as possible.

Do more Pins mean Greater Accuracy?

Theoretically yes. More pins equal more distances you are sighted in at. More pins, on the other hand, could also mean that your view is somewhat blocked. Also, too many pins might lead you to choose the wrong pin when under stress. 

Are Archery Sights legal for Hunting?

Absolutely. Archery sights are 100% legal for hunting (or target shooting). I haven’t seen any hunting regulation yet, where archery sights are declared an unlawful device or something similar. And obviously, sights are also available for recurve bows too.

How Much can you Expect to Spend on an Archery Sight?

How much can you expect to spend? This depends 100% on what you are looking for. Prices can range wildly from less than 100 bucks up to several hundred dollars. 


What Do the Pins Mean on a Bow Sight? The different pins are used for aiming at different distances. A three-pin sight could have been set at 20 yards for the top pin, 30 yards for the middle, and 40 yards for the bottom pin. The increments between pins are chosen to your liking. If your sight has more pins, increments between the pins could be smaller.

This would reduce the necessity for gap shooting. However, some hunters prefer a more “unblocked” view of the game. If you have a 5-pin sight, the pins could somewhat obstruct your view. Basically, it comes down to personal preferences. 

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

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