John's Journal...

The Great Sight Pin Debate

Practice With Over-Distance

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.

Will Primos, of Primos Game Calls in Jackson, Mississippi, shoots Pope-and-Young bucks every year when filming his “Truth” series of videos. Primos must shoot accurately, because a video camera doesn’t lie. If he makes a bad shot, he shows it on his videos. Primos explained, “I use five pins set at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. My 50- and 60-yard pins, however, are strictly practice pins. I practice with my broadheads because I want my practice arrows to fly the same as the arrows with which I hunt. I shoot out to 50 and 60 yards with my broadheads in practice to make sure I’m shooting accurately, and that my arrows are flying correctly. By shooting at greater distances, any mistake I make in sighting will be exaggerated and easier to spot. I feel if I can shoot a 5-½- to 6-inch group with broadheads at 50 yards, then I should be able to shoot my bow much more accurately at 0 to 38 yards. Shooting accurately at greater distances builds my confidence for shooting deer that are within 30 yards. Archers who shoot with only one pin have a difficult time at an archery range trying to shoot a tight group at 50 to 60 yards and building their confidence. I believe the confidence level a hunter shoots with often determines how accurately he shoots.

Click to enlarge“Here’s an example of what happened to me that helped convince me of the importance of shooting with more than one pin. At the beginning of one deer season, I spotted a buck across the road from me feeding under a persimmon tree. I stalked to within 30 yards of where the buck was feeding. Although I spotted the buck’s head and back, I couldn’t see his vitals. A mound of dirt with some grass growing out of it blocked my view. I would have to shoot about a 7-½-inch arc to put the arrow over the dirt and grass. If I hadn’t had a 30-yard pin, I wouldn’t have been able to make the shot. I placed my 30-yard pin on the spot where I knew the vitals of the buck would be. Since I understood the trajectory of my arrows, I knew when I released the arrow, the arrow would fly over the dirt and hit the buck’s vitals - even though my pin was sighted in on the dirt in front of the deer. I felt sure I’d take the buck. When the deer did go down, I was glad I had that 30-yard pin because I probably couldn’t have estimated the distance as well or shot as accurately if I had had only one pin.

“I also hunt in the West, where a 40-yard shot at an elk or a mule deer is common. With only one pin, I’m not sure I can aim as accurately as I do having a 40-yard pin on my bow. I’m convinced by learning to shoot at ranges from 50 to 60 yards, and shooting accurately at those distances, where mistakes are exaggerated, enables me to shoot with pinpoint accuracy at a buck that’s 10, 20 or 30 yards from my stand. Although some bowmen feel they shoot better with one pin, I’m much more accurate shooting with more pins.”

The Second-Shot Pin

Click to enlargeLarry Norton of Butler, Alabama, lives in the woods during bow season. Although Norton is a very-accurate archer who rarely takes a shot at more than 30 yards, his bow is set up with five pins sighted in at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. “Although each bowhunter wants to put his arrow in a deer’s vitals, a deer will often move after the arrow is released, the bowhunter may misjudge the distance, or the arrow may hit a limb or some unforeseen element and cause a miss. Often I need a second shot to put the deer down, which is why I prefer to have more than on pin.

“I once shot at a deer 20-yards away, but when I released the arrow, the animal moved. I hit him in the guts instead of in the lungs. He ran 50 yards from my stand, stopped and humped up his back, trying to get rid of the arrow. Because I had a 50-yard pin on my bow, I drew, aimed, shot and hit the deer. I have taken five deer that have run out to 50 or 60 yards and stopped, giving me the chance to get a second arrow in them because I’ve had a 50-yard pin. Many times the second arrow increases the amount of blood you have to follow – whether or not it actually hits the vitals. My 50-and 60-yard pins are my insurance sighting system if I wound a deer. I practice shooting at 50 to 60 yards, so I have the confidence to use them in case I need to.”

Norton believes more guesswork is involved in aiming accurately with one pin than if you have several pins. You also have more distances that you can measure when you shoot with five pins. “If I think a buck is between 20 and 30 yards, I aim between my 20- and 30-yard pins to shoot more accurately,” Norton advised. “For instance, if the deer’s at 25 yards, I’ll hit in the center of the spot I’m aiming. If the deer’s at 27 yards, I’ll only be an inch or two low. If the deer’s at 23 yards, I’ll be less than 2-inches high. When bowhunting deer, you may have to judge distances in a matter of seconds. I’m convinced that using five pins allows me to judge distance more accurately and quickly and to sight in faster than if I only have one pin.” Norton also says he never gets confused when he has to make a decision as to which pin to shoot. “My 20-yard pin is fluorescent yellow, my 30-yard pin fluorescent blue, my 40-yard pin fluorescent green, my 50-yard pin fluorescent red and my 60-yard pin black. Unless you’re color blind, you shouldn’t get confused and shoot with the wrong pin.”

Click to enlargeNorton believes less margin for error exists when he has his pins set at particular yardages. “If I’m shooting a deer I believe to be at 30 yards, and I misjudge the yardage by 3 feet, I’ll still be able to hit the deer’s vitals. But if I only have one pin, I have to guess the yardage and where I should hold that pin. I have twice the opportunity to guess wrong as I do to guess right. For me, having five pins enables me to be twice as accurate at distances from 0 to 60 yards as I will be if I only shoot 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 4