When Do Bow Sights Work Best, and Should I Use One?

When Do Bow Sights Work Best, and Should I Use One?

When do bow sights work best? Do I even need a bow sight, or should I shoot based on instinct? These questions usually come up for archers new to the sport, looking for the best equipment and head-starts. Over here at ScopesHQ, we understand the usefulness of optical assistance in hunting and shooting sports. However, we’re going to give as unbiased an opinion possible when it comes to your questions about bow sights. Let’s look at our first question:

Do I Need a Bow Sight?

If you are considering using a bow sight for the first time, this is a critical question to ask yourself. However, arriving at the answer requires you to ask yourself several other basic questions. Ask yourself:

  • Have you shot your bow yet?
    You can’t know how accurate you are without a bow sight unless you try firing first. If you have not shot your bow yet, you may not know whether you’re amazingly accurate or inaccurate. If your some sort of undiscovered archery savant and always hit your mark, then pass on a bow sight.
  • Does your bow accommodate a bow sight?
    Older models of compound bows, longbows, and recurve bows may not fit new bow sights. Risers, grips, and lack of pre-drilled holes may get in the way of you using a desired sight. If you have questions with regards to your particular model, you can check archery stores near you for advice. Otherwise, most new hunting bows accommodate one or another type of bow sight.
  • How do you plan on using your bow?
    Are you going to be shooting for long distances? Perhaps you may be considering only close targets. At any rate, bow sights are most useful at longer distances. If you’re aiming for nearby (within 10 yards) objects only, then you may not need a bow sight.

Every hunter I know uses a bow sight while out in the field.  The difference between aiming at 10 yards and 50 yards is a relatively subtle change in your bow.  If you are accurate at 50 yards without a sight, I think you should be making youtube videos and entering every archery competition you can.

I for one do not want to take a chance at missing a gobbler at 25 yards from an overshoot. It’s one thing to target practice without a sight, but it’s entirely different to be hunting and not use one.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but the cost is relatively inexpensive when compared to going home empty handed on a Saturday morning.  This brings us to another question:

When Do Bow Sights Work Best, Then?

The answer to this question is simpler than you’d think.

  • Bow sights work best at distances often between 20 yards to 100 yards.
    When Do Bowsights Work Best - Target -CC0 Public DomainMost bow sights come with a wide sighting range. Ranges between 20 and 80 yards is typical, with some going further (up to 100 yards).  I have 4 pins on my sight and keep them dialed in at 20, 30, 40, and 50 yards.  This allows me to have extremely accurate shots from up to 50 yards, and I can even stretch that to 60 yards if need be.   Typically I prefer to be around 30 yards or less if at all possible when hunting.  Shooting too close to a target will make the bow sight more of a hindrance than an assistance. While we don’t expect anyone to be shooting hundreds of yards out, longer ranges are not supported either.
  • Bow sights work best for all levels from less experienced to veteran archers.
    If you are just starting out, you should be doing plenty of practice anyway, so your bow sight will need to be fine tuned and adjusted to your desired distances (as mentioned my sight pins are at 20,30,40, and 50 yards).  With a simple allen wrench/hex key you can move each pin around so you know where your targets are set.

If you plan on shooting your bow while meeting these requirements, then you’re good to go with a bow sight!

So What Makes a Good Bowsight?

You may now realize you want a bow sight, but you may not know what to look for in one. There are a few factors to take into account. The most important aspect, of course, will be the first mentioned.


How accurate is your bow sight? This is often determined through experimentation. Most sights look like a circle with 3-5 pins inside of them, vertically laid out.  The top one will be your close distance pin and the bottom one will be the farther distance.  Make sure to practice and set each pin correctly.  When coupled with a rangefinder, you will be able to know exactly how far away your target is.  40yds away, no problem, just line up your 40yd pin and release.

If you zeroed a sight in to 20 yards without issue, you should be able to do the same at other yardages.


As with most hunting equipment, weight plays an important role in determining bowsight quality. Heavy bow sights are simply not comfortable to hold. If you already have a heavy bow, another pound could make a day of shooting take a toll on you. Bowsights one pound or less are reasonable for most users.

Many archers take a short while to become accustomed to the extra weight. That said, you should probably take day breaks between the sighting-in process, especially if you don’t shoot daily normally. Even a small increase in bow weight can prove taxing at first.

Pin and Sight Adjustment

As mentioned before, some bowsights come with a single pin to use for sighting. Some come with five pins. The approaches used by these sights differ and are usually a matter of personal preference. Some folks like five pins showing where to aim for different yardages. Some folks like an adjustable single pin sight. You will want to take pin setup into account, but I personally like options.  So 3-5 pins is best.

Setting Up A Bowsight

If you’re curious on how to set one up, here’s a quick rundown of how to zero in your bowsight.


The Trophy Ridge React One Pro Bowsight

While we’re on the topic of the Trophy Ridge React One Pro, let’s take a look at it in more detail. At ScopesHQ, we don’t pass on the opportunity to check out optical equipment! Here’s some stats on the Trophy Ridge React One bow sight.

As with other sights, the Trophy Ridge React One bowsight helps you dial in your accuracy for long range shots. It achieves this purpose, but comes with a higher price tag than a lot of models out there. So what is unique about this React One model that makes it worth the investment?

Pins and Sight Adjustment

Many bowsights come with three, four, or five pins to help gauge target distance. The Trophy Ridge React One condensed the functionality to a single pin and adjustment knob.

Why would you want less when you could have more, you ask? Having less pins means there are less distractions. There are less objects in the way of your line of sight, and aiming may even prove easier. Some users genuinely prefer the React One’s bottom-up pin approach to the standard side pin approach, as well.

Accuracy and the React Technology

The Trophy Ridge React One’s “React Technology” is meant to simplify range adjustments. If you sight/zero this bow to 20 yards and any other second yardage (20, 30, 40 etc), then it will be correctly sighted for all the other distances as well. This helps get your bow ready for hunting or target practice quickly and efficiently. In order to aim at further distances after zeroing, you will just have to turn a single adjustment knob accordingly.

Weight and Mounting Options

Trophy Ridge took its many users into account and has made two versions of the React One Pro. One comes with a dovetail bracket, and the other comes with a hunter bracket. The dovetail version allows you to mount the sight further away from the bow’s riser. It also allows you to adjust where the sight sits by sliding it in or out along the mount. This is helpful in perfectly centering the sight in your bow’s peep. It also may be useful for some users whom want to store their sight with their bow in its case. The standard hunting bracket is usually adequate for most users, however.

The hunter bracket version weighs in at 0.78 pounds, while the dovetail version weighs 0.9 pounds.

Note that the model described in this article uses the Hunter Bracket. For the Dovetail version, check here!



To recap, if you’ve shot a bow and are shooting longer distances, consider a bow sight! They’re helpful and can only increase accuracy when used correctly

When asking “when do bow sights work best,” bow sights work best between 20 and 100 yards when used by somewhat experienced or veteran archers. New archers will typically find it useful when the bow comes with a sight and you can always upgrade to something better in the future!

High accuracy, low weight, and adjustability make for a good bowsight. Look for these qualities in any bowsight you search for!

The Trophy Ridge React One Pro is a great bowsight, showing high accuracy, reasonable weight, and adaptability.

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