Buckmasters Magazine

Single and Happy

Single and Happy

By Ken Piper

Flat-shooting bows have given new life to single-pin sights.

I'm getting to that age where things just don't work the way they used to. My belly is round instead of flat, I can't hear a deer coming any more (wear hearing protection at the gun range!), and the pins on my bow sight are getting blurry. I'm also starting to appreciate the simpler things in life. In short, I've become my father!

That's not a bad thing since I couldn't have a better role model. Another thing Dad and I have in common now is a love of single-pin bow sights.

I began to think about going with one pin about three years ago when I noticed I was having trouble picking out the pins when shooting targets. Not wanting to change my setup, I switched to .019 pins from the tiny .010 ones I had been using. That allowed me to keep the Spot Hogg Real Deal sight and see the pins easier, but the sight picture was still cluttered.

Then, in the fall of 2012, I was hunting with media friend Tim Kent. I noticed he was using a one-pin sight and asked how he liked it.

“One of the things I struggled with is how a multiple pin setup presents a crowded sight picture,” he said. “A single pin eliminates that issue. I can aim and not be distracted by selecting from multiple pins. With less clutter and nothing else to think about, I have increased my effective range, accuracy and consistency.”

Tim is younger, leaner and has better eyesight. If it was good for him, I figured it would be great for me.

Single-pin sights, most common on pendulum models, were all the rage when I started bowhunting in the late 1980s. As bows got better, faster and flatter-shooting, the need for angle compensation dwindled. Use of pendulum sights and most single-pin models faded from the hunting scene.

Solo-pin sights never went away entirely. They have remained the choice of target and 3-D shooters, and there were still a few holdout hunters like my dad. Even so, you would have been hard-pressed to find a whitetail hunter using one just a few years ago.

While technology helped push out single-pin sights, now it’s bringing them back. Today’s compound bows are so efficient and fast, many shooters are taking advantage of the ability to use one pin for multiple yardages. Further, with models that allow the pin to be adjusted on the fly, it’s like having the best of both worlds.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of single-pin sights we sell,” said Kris Christensen sales and marketing staffer for Spot Hogg (www.spot-hogg.com), makers of the Tommy Hogg sight. “A lot of guys are trying to simplify their sight picture, and when you can do that and still have pinpoint accuracy, it’s no wonder single-pin sights are getting popular again.”

I tried a Tommy Hogg this spring to make sure I really wanted to make the leap. It offered everything you could want in an adjustable single-pin sight, including the ability to move the pin up and down by turning a dial. With yardages marked on a white tape, a shooter can dial to exact yardages over a wide range of distance.

Today’s bows are capable of tremendous accuracy, so why not have a sight that takes advantage of that? If you see a buck at 42 yards, it does a lot for your confidence to know you can turn the sight to that exact distance and make the shot.

Christensen agrees. “There’s a lot of peace of mind in having a setup where you can set your sight to a specific yardage and know your arrow will hit exactly where you’re aiming,” he said. “Of course, you have to do everything else right, but today’s bows are capable of incredible accuracy. A single-pin adjustable sight let’s you take advantage of that.”

While that versatility is a big plus, it also keeps more hunters from making the switch. When I told my friends I was going with a single-pin sight for the coming bow season, several expressed concern about having to move the pin at the moment of truth.

“I’ve thought about switching, but I’m afraid I would forget to move my pin or that I wouldn’t have time to move it when a big buck steps out,” one said.

What they don’t realize is you don’t have to move it for almost any whitetail hunting situation.

According to the Pope and Young record book, the average distance for all its whitetail entries is 19 yards. Further, less than 5% of the deer entered in their book were shot at more than 40 yards.

With a single pin zeroed at 27 yards, a hunter using a 400-grain arrow/broadhead combination and shooting 60 pounds with a 27.5-inch draw length can shoot one pin from zero to 30 yards without adjusting anything. I know this because that’s my setup.

Shots are about an inch high at 20 yards and about an inch low at 30, but that’s well within a buck’s vitals. For anything beyond 30 yards, I can move the pin to the exact yardage needed for that particular shot.

In short, I won’t have to move anything for 90 percent of whitetail opportunities. If a longer shot presents itself, it would most likely happen along a food plot where I should have ample time to make an adjustment.

Last year in Illinois, I missed a buck on a food plot when he suddenly took off after a doe just as I pulled the trigger on the release. I thought I was going to be sick. That was until he came by again 5 minutes later and I put an arrow through him. The point is, bucks on food plots tend to hang around and pester does.

The key is to have yardages pre-tested and marked on your sight tape.

That can be done the same way you currently sight in a bow. Shoot at 20 yards and mark it on your tape. Step back to 25 or 30, move the pin down and shoot again. When you get the pin height correct for that distance, mark it on the tape, and so on.

Another option is to use any of the several online programs that help you create a tape specifically for your setup.

The biggest advantage of a computer-generated tape is it allows you to adjust the sight for differences in distance as small as 1 yard. That doesn’t mean a whole lot for shots at 25 yards, but when you get back to 50 or 60, every yard counts, especially with a lower-energy setup like mine with its 60-pound draw weight and a short 27.5-inch draw length.

The Archery Program (thearcheryprogram.com), Pinwheel Software (www.pinwheelsoftware.com) and Archer’s Advantage (www.archersadvantage.com) all offer programs for creating sight tapes.

The Archery Program (TAPes) uses a results-based method to create a tape just for you. Print out a scale, tape it to your sight and shoot two shots at different distances, noting the location of your sight’s distance indicator on the TAPes scale at each shot. Based on the amount of drop between the two shots, the program will create a customized sight tape.

The Pinwheel Software program (OnTarget2!) uses information about your setup, including bow model, poundage, draw length, arrow model and weight, etc., to create a customized tape. It also offers the choice of overriding default values with actual data you’ve gathered. For example, the program estimated my setup speed to be 261 fps. Since I had access to a chronograph, I was able to override that value with my actual fps of 255.

Archer’s Advantage can generate tapes with the two-mark method, or with one mark and a chronograph speed measurement.

If that sounds too intimidating, just use the manual method mentioned earlier. You won’t have yard-by-yard marks, but you can set up a tape with 5-yard increments in no time.

Christensen says the manual method is okay, especially for hunting whitetails in the East and Midwest, but why not take advantage of the true capability of the sight?

“If you go with a manual tape, you’re selling yourself short,” he said. “Shooting a variety of distances, especially longer distances, gives you confidence and makes the closer shots easy. If you limit yourself and never shoot beyond 25 or 30 yards, you’ll never get better.”

Another option is to go with a multiple-pin adjustable sight. The Tommy Hogg and other single-pin sights are available in models with multiple pins that retain the dial adjustment option.

My setup includes a computer generated tape. I wouldn’t have a problem hunting with a tape I made by hand, but I enjoy practicing at longer distances. It’s also likely I’ll be hunting some big food plots in the Midwest, so it will be handy to have precise pin settings.

If your main goal is to have a simple, cleaner setup and you hunt mostly in the woods, don’t hesitate to try a one-pin sight with a hand-made tape.

Either way, a single-pin, adjustable sight is an accurate and versatile option for your hunting setup.

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This article was published in the September 2013 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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