John's Journal...

The Great Sight Pin Debate

Learn with One, Then Shoot with Four

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.

Click to enlargeMost 3-D archers have a minimum of three to five pins on their bows for sighting in on targets. They shoot with pinpoint accuracy and take this same accuracy with them into the woods. To place your arrow in exactly the same spot at varying distances, you may want to consider shooting with more than one pin. A competitive shooter and an archery instructor, Chuck Terrell of Gadsden, Alabama, has bowkilled more than 100 deer over the last 20 years in Alabama, where a bowhunter can bag one deer per day from October 15 until January 31. Terrell believes that to take more bucks with your bow, you must shoot with more than one pin.

“When I teach a person who’s never shot a bow before, I only put one pin sight on his bow and set that pin for 15 yards to get him accustomed to the aiming process,” Terrell said. “I teach students to aim at the center of a 1-inch dot. More than one pin on a bow when a person first begins to shoot may be distracting. Once a student becomes proficient and can aim and shoot the center of a 1-inch dot every time he shoots, then I add more pins to the sight. I’ll usually put four pins on, set at 15 yards, 20 yards, 25 yards and 30 yards, because no student needs to shoot at deer at distances greater than 30 yards in my region of the country. In the South, where I primarily hunt, the best place to find a buck is in thick cover. Rarely will you get a shot at a deer more than 30-yards away.

Click to enlarge"Because the kill zone on a deer is between 12 and 18 inches in circumference, the 15-yard pin will allow the student to take a deer from 10 to 22 yards. If he misjudges his distance by a few yards, he’ll still be able to bag his deer. The 20-yard pin will cover from 15 to 25 yards, and the 30-yard pin will let the student take the deer from about 18 yards to 35 yards. However, I use four pins, not to try to cover my mistakes if I misjudge yardage, but to attempt to shoot more accurately when I judge the yardage correctly. If you judge your distance correctly and shoot with pinpoint accuracy, then even if the deer moves or jumps the string, you’re most likely to put your arrow in the kill zone than if your margin for error is greater.”

Terrell doesn’t believe hunters can become confused and choose the wrong pin when a deer walks nearby, as the fraternity of one-pin shooters may have you believe. The head of each of Terrell’s pin sights is painted a different color. If the deer’s at 20 yards, then Terrell looks at the center pin. As long as the top pin is on the top of the deer’s back and the bottom pin is near the deer’s belly, then he knows one of the two middle pins must be the right pin. Even if you’re not sure of the exact yardage, as long as you pick any one of the top three pins you’ll get a good hit.

Click to enlarge"Many hunters using only one pin believe the speed of their bows will make up for their lack of accuracy,” Terrell mentioned. “But the fact is, the more accurately you can shoot, the greater your odds are of getting a lethal hit. To shoot accurately, have your pins set at varying distances from 15 to 30 yards. I may add a 50-yard pin, but I won’t use that pin to shoot deer at 50 yards. I’ll use it on deer that are straight under my tree. I believe that deer that are missed most often are the ones that walk in under the bowman’s tree and he draws to shoot at a range he’s never practiced at before and doesn’t have a pin set for that distance. In most instances, the hunter will shoot over these deer. To shoot with pinpoint accuracy, I’ll use my 50-yard pin if the deer’s within a foot of the base of the tree. If a deer’s 3 yards from the tree, I aim with my 25-yard pin. At 4 yards, I use my 20-yard pin and at 5 yards my 15-yard pin. I believe the bowhunter is more likely to miss a deer that’s 1 to 10 yards from his tree than he is to miss a deer at 20 to 35 yards.”



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 3