Single Pin vs. Multi Pin Sights: 3 Questions to Ask When Buying a New Archery Sight


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If you are looking to purchase a new sight for your bow, and are comparing single pin vs. multi pin sights, this brief guide might help you in your decision.

When I buy equipment for my traditional bow the process is pretty straight forward. Shooters of trad bows have a few basic decisions to make in regards to arrow weight, spine, and release style, but it is generally pretty easy. When making purchase decisions with my modern compound bow however there are many more things to consider. Shooters of compound bows need to decide between single cams or dual cams, the type of release they want, capture rest or drop away rest, silencers, and what peep system to use just to name a few. Another big decision modern archers face, and cordially debate, is in regards to the type of sight they use.

When discussing what bow sight to use the debate generally comes down to two major groups; single pin vs. multi pin sights. Potential buyers should be aware of each system’s benefits and drawbacks before attaching one to your shooting rig. Doing so will not only increase your odds of success, but will make your hunts and shooting experiences much more enjoyable. That being said, here are the top 3 questions you should ask yourself when buying a new bow sight.

How do you hunt?

The first question you need to ask yourself when deciding between different bow sights is, “How do I hunt?” or ,”What is my typical hunting situation?” The most common hunting method today is using tree stands or ground blinds. In most cases stands are hung or placed in locations that offer the archer shots of close proximity of less than 30 yards. If you are hunting in situations where your maximum distance is less than 30 yards a single pin sight might be right up your alley.

Single pin sight.

Single pin sights have a number of advantages, including ease of use.

With the flat shooting bows we have today most folks won’t have a problem using a single pin sight shooting at targets less than 30 yards away. The common practice is to sight the single pin at a distance of 20 yards to hit dead center and adjust up or down depending on yardage. After a little practice you can quickly determine where to hover the sight for all shots between 0 and 30 yards. Most single pin sights are also easily adjustable. This allows you to hold dead on with each and every shot.

While single pin sights are good for shooting known ranges, your hunting situations may change too dramatically for a single pin to be useful. When I hunt mule deer for example, I have no idea how far the shot will be each time I stalk. I’ve shot deer as close as 15 yards and as far as 35 yards. In fact, most trophy mule deer bucks are shot at distances of over 45 yards. If you have shot enough at those distances, you realize how quickly things begin to change as you move out further and further. Unless you have an extraordinary amount of time to practice different ranges with a single pin, a multi pin sight might be the best option for hunts with drastically changing yardages and circumstances.

How much time do you have to practice?

The second question you need to ask yourself is how much time can you devote to practice? Single pins are a great option for someone doing all of their shooting under 30 yards but it starts to get tricky past that. Although many single pins allow for adjustability to be point-on every time, it doesn’t always work that way. At least that goes for hunting shots. For example, if you have an animal ranged at 45 yard but moving through the trees that eventually emerges into a meadow and pauses at 37 what do you do with a single pin? You don’t have time to adjust from 45 to 37. The answer is you have to practice.

Multi Pin

Multi pin sights have a variety of options, especially for people who shoot a variety of distances.

The top shooters of single pins that I have seen are incredible in that they have practiced nearly every possible scenario described above. Cameron Hanes is arguably the most popular bowhunter on the planet right now and he shoots a single pin. When interviewed about his single pin sight system he described his ability to execute in the above scenario. In order to do that though he had to practice all scenarios when his pin is set at 45 yards. He had to practice 60 yard shots, 55 yard shots, 50 yard shots, likely clear down to 30 yard shots. Not only that but he would have had to do the same thing with his pin set at all other yardages. Some guys can surely do it, but that takes time.

If you have the time and the desire to shoot a single pin sight you can become an accomplished shooter at any distance even with variability. If however you don’t have an extraordinary amount of time to devote to practice multi pins may be a better choice. Once your pins are set you can easily make yardage adjustments on the fly.

How well do you focus?

The third and final question to ask yourself when deciding between single pin vs. multi pin sights is how well can you focus? The biggest animosity toward multi pin sights appears to be aimed at the clutter they cause in the sight picture. Personally I have a five pin system that gets me comfortably out to 60 yards with my compound bow. I can vouch that with five pins to look at you can get a case of pin-switch every now and then. It happens. However, on most shots, even in high pressure hunting situations, it doesn’t really become a big issue.

The biggest advantage to single pin sights is the relief they offer and their simplicity when aiming. One pin. One focus point. It sounds pretty darn easy. If you are having trouble looking through all of those pins stacked on one another, a single pin might be a good option.

As you can see there is no one right answer when picking a new bow sight. The best sight for you depends on how you hunt as an individual, how much time you have to devote to practice, and what you want to see in the sight picture. Neither a single pin or a multi pin sight is a perfect option. Each system has strengths and weaknesses and could be a good fit or a bad fit for you. At best, hopefully this article offered a bit of guidance for someone out there deciding between a single pin and a multi pin sight.

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