When Do Bow Sights Work Best

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Bow sights work best when you can estimate or know the distance to the target. This is especially true when you are target shooting at a given distance. If you are bowhunting, bow sights are helpful too, but you will need to use your experience to estimate the distance to the game animal to make an ethical shot.

Different kinds of bow sights are available, each having its own use. You need to know what kind of shooting you want to do to pick the sight that works best for your situation. You probably heard the question several times if you´re taking a Hunter Safety Course…

What Is A Bow Sight?

Simply said, a bow sight is a device attached to your bow for aiming. There are more bow sights available on the market today than there are bows! Some work better in specific situations compared to others.

What sight you are using also depends on the kind of bow you are using. There are bow sights for compound bows and bow sights for recurve bows.

Compound Bow Sights

Dead Ringer Tack Driver DT SIghts1_1

Compound bow sights are attached to the rider of your bow. There are threaded holes in your riser/above the shelf that fit any sight you buy for your compound bow. Before picking any bow sight, make up your mind what you will use the bow for? Are you a bowhunter? Do you want to participate in target shooting? Indoor? Outdoor?

There are bow sights available for each kind of bow activity, and knowing what action you want to do now will help you make up your mind about which bow sight to buy.

Single Pin Sight

If you want an exact aiming reference, then single pin sights are what you need. The pin is adjustable, and with the help of sight tape, you can add markings for any ranges you want.

Now let’s say you are target shooting and the target sits at 43 yards – you’ll adjust the sight accordingly to the marks on your sight tape. 

Single Pin Sights are best for target shooting – or every situation where you are confident about the actual distance to your target. 

Multi-Pin Sights

An archer typically sets the pins on a multi-pin sight at various distances and locks them into position. Thus, an archer with a sight with four pins, for example, could set those pins as aiming references for twenty, thirty, forty, and fifty yards. This process is called sighting in. 

Multi-Pin Sights work best for bowhunting. You want a fixed aiming reference you can refer to when game animals move closer. 

Recurve Bow Sights

MEIGONGJU Compound Recurve Bow Sight,...

A recurve bow sight is a device that attaches to the riser of your recurve bow and allows you to adjust for elevation and windage. The most common type of bow sight is an open notch, which has a single pinhole.

Depending on what kind of shooting you will be doing, different recurve bow sights are available. Target? Competition? Hunting? 

Open Ring Sight 

As their name implies, ring sights are circular sights that are peered through when shooting to line up your arrow with its intended point of impact. In direct sunlight or at long range, these sights’ small field of view renders them rather useless.

Open Ring Sights work best for shooting indoors or at short distances.

Pin Sight

The same reasoning can be applied to the other recurve bow sights, the pin sight. It can be challenging to fit a recurve bow, but pin sights are effective in all situations. 

Pin-Sights work best in all conditions.  

Target Sight 

Fiber optics enhance the aiming potential of these bow sight types. They are used in all forms of competitions. They are pretty pricey. 

Target Sights work best for target shooting. 

Where Bow Sights Don’t Work Well

fast moving deer

Bow sights will not work if you cannot judge the distance to your target. That’s not so much a problem in target shooting because, generally, distances are known to the archers. But judging the distance to the game animal is crucial if you are a bowhunter. So if there is a situation that makes it hard or impossible to guess the distance, bow sights may not be the best option.

Bow Sights and Rangefinders

Some bowhunters use bow sights together with rangefinders. This way, they can measure the exact distance and adjust accordingly to their bow sight. Or, in the case of a multi-pin sight, pick the pin that best fits the distance!

read.. Dead Ringer Tack Driver Bow Sight Hands-On


Bow sights are available for different bow activities. There are three main types of bow sights- single pin, multi-pin, and recurve bow sights. Recurve bow sights are devices that attach to the riser of your recurve bow and allow you to adjust for elevation and windage. The most common type of recurve bow sight is an open notch, which has a single pinhole.

Open Ring Sights work best for shooting indoors or at short distances, while Single or Multi Pin-Sights work well in all conditions. Bowhunters will often use bow sights together with rangefinders to ensure accuracy and precision. Bow Sights don’t work well in situations where the distance to your target is unknown or changes throughout shot preparation.


Q: Can bow sights be used for bowhunting?

A: Bow Sights definitely work for bowhunting. Hunters use rangefinders in conjunction to be even more precise.

Q: Is there one bow sight that is the best?

A: That depends on what kind of shooting you will do with your bow. Target shooting, indoor, outdoor, competition, bowhunting? DIfferent sights are best in different situations.

Q: What bow sight do people who shoot their recurve bow only indoors usually use?

A: Open Ring Sight. They are best used indoors or short distances.

Q: Do bow sights work better in the dark?

A: Modern pin sights often have illuminated pins, which allows you to see your bow sight pins in the dark – making it easier to aim. This makes bow sights an excellent choice for bowhunters who often hunt at dawn or dusk.

Q: What bow sight should I choose for bowhunting?

A: If bowhunting, you generally want to go with a bow sight that allows you to adjust for elevation – 3 pins are preferred. This way, if the animal moves after you have ranged it, but before your shot, you can quickly compensate accordingly.

Q: What bow sight should I use for bowfishing?

A: If bow fishing, bow sights are not the best choice. Bowfishing is done at close distances. It’s much easier to simply use a bow fishing bow.

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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