John's Journal...

The Great Sight Pin Debate

The Single, Swinging Pin - The Pendulum

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: 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, which were 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.

Toxey Haas, president of Mossy Oak Camouflage in West Point, Mississippi, has been hunting deer with a bow for most of his life. Each season, Haas spends hundreds of hours in the woods bowhunting deer. After utilizing various sighting systems, today Haas prefers to shoot a pendulum sight. “I believe the pendulum sight eliminates the use of more than one pin,” Haas reported. “I want my sighting system to be as simple as possible when I have to depend on it to take a deer. When a buck’s coming, I have to think, will the buck see me or smell me? Will it get close enough for me to take a shot? Will he stop walking? Will he put his head down or look away so I can draw? Can I stand up without the buck’s spotting me? Can I get comfortably into my shooting position? Will I have to shoot through cover, and which hole in the cover will give me the best shot at the buck? The last thing I need to worry about is how I am going to sight to hit the deer’s vitals. When I’ve got a deer within 30 yards, all I have to do is draw and aim. The pendulum sight takes the guesswork out of judging distance, choosing a pin and shooting accurately. Instead I concentrate on the deer and making a good, clean shot.

Click to enlarge“In years past, I shot more than one pin. I found that when I had pins on my bow that I could shoot accurately at 40 to 50 yards, I was tempted to take shots, and did take shots, that I shouldn’t have. When you practice shooting a target at 50 yards or even at 40 yards, you develop such a degree of confidence in your ability to shoot at that range you forget about everything that can happen to the arrow and a live deer in that distance. When you release an arrow at a deer that is more than 30-yards away, you don’t have any idea where that deer will be when the arrow arrives. The deer may start walking off just as you release the arrow, he may jump the string, or he may duck the arrow all together.

"From my own shooting, I’ve learned that when I shoot a deer that’s inside 25 yards, I recover 95 percent of these deer. When I’ve shot outside of 25 yards, I’ve missed many deer or wounded them. About the only times I’ll shoot a deer at more than 35 yards is when a plane flies overhead, or I take the shot in a heavy rain - both of which keep the deer from hearing the arrow. But even then, a shot over 25 yards is a chancy shot at best. If you’re not going to shoot at distances greater than 25 yards, then why have pins on your bow that allow you to shoot 30, 40 and 50 yards? For me, the simpler, easier and quicker I can sight and take a shot, the greater my odds are for bagging my buck.”

Twenty Years with One Pin

Click to enlargeRonnie Jolly of Tuskegee, Alabama, a videographer with Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, has hunted deer across the nation. A veteran of more than 20 years of bowhunting, he, too, only shoots one pin. “When I look through my peep site, I don’t want clutter between me and the deer,” Jolly said. “I can become easily distracted if I see too much in my peep sight. By shooting with only one pin, I have only one obstacle between my line of sight and the target. With that one pin, I can place an arrow accurately out to 30 yards. My bow shoots 2-inches high at 10 yards, centers the target at 20 yards and is 2-inches low at 30 yards. Since the deer’s vital area is about 12 to 18 inches in diameter, if I shoot dead for the center of the deer’s lungs, I can aim dead on at any distance inside 30 yards. I shoot an overdraw and 100-grain broadhead. Ninety percent of the time I get a complete pass-through on the deer I arrow. I use a sight on my bow. If I want to shoot at distances greater than 30 yards, all I have to do is loosen the screw and roll the sight to my 50-yard mark. With this sight and one pin, I can adjust the sight to shoot and distance I want.

“If I’m hunting in the West for mule deer and elk and need to make a 50-yard shot, I dial in the range, hold dead on with one pin and deliver the arrow. However, when I’m hunting whitetails, I set my pin at 20 yards. I never have to touch my sight or make any adjustments as long as I’m shooting at distances of 30 yards or less. I’m convinced the fewer adjustments you must make to a bow, the more consistently it will shoot. I believe that same philosophy applies to the shooter. Shoot the same way every time you draw the bow and use the same pin and the same shooting sequence.”

Click to enlargeThe real men who shoot with only one pin rely on their hunting skills to make sure deer come within 30 yards. If the deer don’t come that close, they don’t take their shots. They’ve practiced so much with one pin, they know exactly where their arrows will land out to 30 yards. They believe the simpler they can keep their sighting systems, the more consistently they will shoot. If you’ve been frustrated with your shooting because you can’t shoot accurately and consistently, consider shooting with only one pin.



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 2