John's Journal...

The Great Sight Pin Debate

Two Pins Only

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.

Preston Pittman, the creator of Pittman Game Calls and one of the nation’s best bowhunters, is an oddity in the great pin debate. He doesn’t shoot with one pin or five buns, but rather with two. “I don’t feel confident taking a shot of 40 yards or more,” Pittman explained. “I set my first pin at 20 yards and aim at the deer’s heart. Even if the deer squats, I’ll make a lung shot. If he doesn’t squat, I’ll hit him in the center of the heart. If the deer is more than 20 yards, I’ll hit him in the lower half of the heart, since it’s about 3 or 4 inches in diameter.

Click to enlarge“My second pin is set at 30 yards. If the deer’s at 25 yards, I aim between the 20- and the 30-yard pins. I’ll still hit the deer’s heart. If the deer’s at 30 yards, I can shoot dead-on. If the deer doesn’t squat to run, I’ll hit the heart. If he does squat to run, I’ve still got a lung shot. If the deer’s at 40 yards, everything has to be perfect for me to take the shot. I generally aim for the top of the lungs, which will be about 3 inches below the backbone. But again, let me emphasize that a 40-yard shot is one I rarely take. I don’t have more than two pins because I get excited, start breathing heavily when I see a buck and often am unable to decide which pin I should shoot. If I only have two pins to choose from, I’ll shoot the top pin if the deer’s close and the bottom pin if the deer’s not. I have confidence in my two-pin system. Two pins fit my personality, my style of shooting, my ability to judge distance and aim accurately and have produced bucks for me.”

In the final analysis, the number of pins you use for hunting deer depends on many factors, including:

  • Click to enlargehow you’ve learned to shoot,
  • whether or not you’re a competitive archer,
  • whether you’re more comfortable with one or five pins on your sight,
  • how much confidence you have in the sighting system you use,
  • what your own philosophy is of which sighting system produces the most accuracy for you.

Test several sighting systems to find out the number of pins that best enables you to judge distance and shoot accurately. These experts have given you the reasons they choose the number of pins they use, but only you will know what’s best for you.


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 5