John's Journal...

The Great Sight Pin Debate

One Pin For 100 Bucks

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: I estimated the buck to be 15-yards away. But I only had one pin on my bow, and that pin was set to hit dead center at 20 yards. I aimed at the top of the deer’s heart - just below and behind the front shoulder. When the deer put his head behind a tree to feed on white oak acorns, I drew my bow and took a breath of air. Although I never felt my finger touch the trigger of my mechanical release, when the bow fired, I knew I was dead-on. The arrow flew true. Even though the buck squatted to jump, the broadhead penetrated his lungs, and after a short run, the buck was down. The sighting system you use is a critical factor in the number of deer you take. There are all types of sighting systems available, including ones that allow you to dial in the yardage, crosshair sights, pendulum sights and pin sights. Many of today’s most-proficient bowhunters, however, still shoot some type of pin sight, the first sights introduced for aiming bows with peep sights on their strings. The number of pins shooters utilize can vary greatly. Some of the deadliest hunters I know use only one pin sight to aim at deer from 0 to 30 yards. Many bowhunters feel that real men only shoot one pin. But how do you learn to judge distance and arrow flight when you only utilize one pin? To learn the answer to this question, we’ve talked with several of the nation’s most-successful pin shooters.

Jim Perkins of Madison, Mississippi, has been hunting deer with his bow for almost three decades and has taken more than 100 bucks in this state with its liberal season and bag limits. When I asked him why he shot only one pin, he explained, “Today one pin will shoot accurately from 0 to 30 yards, because bows are much faster then they were 10-years ago. I’ll never shoot a deer more than 30-yards away. The worst-case scenario is that if I aim for the center of a deer 30 yards or less from me, the arrow will be high or low 5 to 6 inches, which still will cause my broadhead to hit the deer’s vitals. If I have my pin set at 20 yards and shoot at the top of the deer’s heart, which is low on the deer, then even if the deer squats to jump, I’ll take him, because my arrow will hit the lung region.”

Click to enlargePerkins also prefers to use only one pin because he doesn’t get confused and shoot with the wrong pin when a deer is in close. “I’ve missed deer before when shooting with more than one pin, because when I’ve looked through my peep sight, I’ve used the wrong pin to aim,” Perkins reported. “But when I only have one pin to choose from, I can’t make this mistake. I read recently that 85 to 90 percent of all deer bagged with bows are shot at less than 25 yards. So why should I put more pins on my bow to shoot distances greater than 30 yards? A couple of years ago, I took a shot at a big doe that was 55-yards away. I knew about where I had to hold the pin to make the shot. But by the time my arrow got to where the doe was standing, she had moved 20 yards. Since I was hunting in a forest with intense bowhunting pressure, the deer knew what the sound of the string meant and how to avoid the arrow. If you could get a deer to stand still at 100 yards like a 3-D target deer, you could practice by putting a 100-yard pin on your bow. However, a deer wouldn’t remain still for that long.

“I had a friend of mine shoot at a 40-yard target while I stood behind a big tree 20 yards to the right side of the target. I wanted to see if I could hear his bow fire when he released the arrow. Even though he shot a very-quiet bow, when he released the string, I heard the arrow coming before it ever hit the target.

“A deer’s reaction time is much faster than mine. I know if I can hear an arrow, the deer will too, and it will react to it by getting out of the way. That’s why I don’t think anyone should try a shot at more than 30 yards. Nine times out of 10 the deer will dodge the arrow, or you’ll make a poor hit. Another factor that creates a problem for the bowhunter is the pressure of the shot. Some of my friends shoot 3-inch groups at 50 yards when they’re shooting at 3-D targets. But when deer appear at close range, these same hunters become so excited and rattled that they can’t make clean shots. Let’s face it: the closer the deer is when you take the shot, the less likely you are to miss. If you only shoot at distances of 30 yards or less, you can aim dead-on with one pin and bag your buck.”

Around the World and Back to One Pin

Click to enlargeRonnie Strickland of West Point, Mississippi, the vice president of video for Mossy Oak, shot in National Field Archery Association tournaments at known distances in years past and won the state amateur division and placed third in the Southern Regional Division. He also competed in 3-D archery tournaments. Strickland started shooting with a recurve before moving up to a compound. Now he shoots an overdraw. In years past, Strickland utilized most every kind of gadget made to improve his accuracy. Finally, after more than 20 years of experimentation, Strickland has decided the KISS method - Keep it Simple Stupid - is the best system of sighting his bow.

“Today I’m convinced the less equipment you add to your bow, the less chance that the equipment will malfunction at the moment of truth,” Strickland commented. “I shoot with one pin because I’m not a good instinctive shooter, I believe shooting instinctively is a gift to an archer, just like being a great painter is a gift to an artist. Therefore, I have to have some type of reference point to let me know where to aim my bow to shoot accurately. I have one pin set at 20 yards because at that distance I can watch my arrow’s flight to the deer. When I deer hunt, I’ve already decided I will not take a shot over 25 yards. I don’t need a 30- or a 40-yard pin. Because my bow shoots at 220 feet/second, I put the pin at the bottom of the deer’s stomach, if a deer’s right under my tree stand, to hit the deer’s kill zone. At 25 yards, I place the pin just a little below the top of the deer’s back.

“To prevent the deer from jumping the string, I do everything I can to quiet my bow. I’m convinced one of the reasons many bowhunters miss deer is not because of their sighting systems but rather because their bows make so much noise. A deer can hear the arrow coming and move before the arrow is delivered. To shoot accurately, no matter what sighting system you use, you must select one of two philosophies. You either must shoot: below where you want the arrow to strike the deer, anticipating that the deer will hear the bow fire and squat to jump; or, at a deer close enough with a quiet and fast bow so the deer will not have the opportunity to move when the arrow is released. I prefer to shoot a quiet, fast bow and know when I aim my one pin that the arrow will hit the spot where I’m aiming rather than have to shoot low and hope the deer squats into the shot when he hears my bow go off.

Click to enlarge"Deer hunting is a 20-yard game for me. If the deer comes in 20 yards less from me, I’ll have the opportunity to take the shot. If the deer’s at more than 20 yards, he has won the game, and I don’t take the shot. Often hunters try to overcompensate for their lack of good hunting skills by standing in their backyards and practicing at distances from 0 to 50 yards. Even if they can’t put their stands where deer will walk within 20 yards or less, they still think they have the right to take long shots because they’ve been practicing with targets 40- to 50-yards away. My inability to shoot accurately at distances of more than 20 yards is not what keeps me from taking longer shots. The odds of my making a good hit and downing the deer are just greatly reduced with a longer shot. Since I’ve made the decision not to take a shot of more than 25 yards, and my bow will shoot dead on from 0 to 20 yards, I don’t need other pins on my bow to confuse me. I’m not a trophy hunter. I love to bowhunt and bag any deer with my bow. For me, bowhunting is a sport for the hunter, not for the archer. The closer you can get to the deer, the less you have to depend on your shooting skills to make a clean shot. By shooting only one pin, I deliberately try to limit myself to a 20-yard shot, since I know I can make it accurately. Although I’ve tried almost every sighting system that’s come on the market in the last 20 years, I finally have concluded I can take more deer and shoot more accurately when I only have one pin with which to sight.”



Day 1: One Pin For 100 Bucks
Day 2: The Single, Swinging Pin - The Pendulum
Day 3: Learn with One, Then Shoot with Four
Day 4: Practice With Over-Distance
Day 5: Two Pins Only


Entry 325, Day 1