The first thing that you should be aware of when choosing a bow sight for your bow is that they are not bow type specific.

Therefore, any bow sight will work on either a recurve or a compound bow.

However, bow sights are purpose specific in that there are some models that are specifically designed for target shooting whereas, there others that are specifically designed for hunting.

Then, among hunting sights, you have fixed-pin bow sights which are designed for shooting from either the ground or a tree stand and, pendulum bow sights which are designed specifically for treestand shooting to compensate for the steep angle when shooting at a target on the ground.

Furthermore, some bow sights feature a very modest adjustment system while others employ a very elaborate micro-adjustment system for both windage and elevation.

Plus, when choosing a target sight, there is a myriad of different pins, apertures, and scopes that can be installed to provide the shooter with pinpoint accuracy.

Last but not least, some bow sights feature a threaded hole in the pin guard where a sight light can be installed to cast light on the sight pins, while others place the light much closer so that it injects light directly into the fiber optic sight pins.

Thus, due to all of the possible variations, even highly experienced archers are sometimes befuddled by the plethora of bow sights available!

The Four Types of Bow Sights

As mentioned above, there are three different types of bow sights and thus, it is important to understand the difference between the three so that you can choose the correct type for your intended purpose.

Slide-Bar Archery Sights

Slide-bar archery sights are specifically designed for the sole purpose of shooting targets in either an informal or, a formal competitive setting.

Therefore, they differ drastically in appearance from fixed-pin archery sights in that they consist of a long, fixed, extension arm which is meant to place the sight pin significantly farther from the archer’s eye than when using a fixed-pin sight and, at the end of which is attached a vertical bar that with a small block attached to the front that is designed to slide up and down the vertical bar and which also contains the single sight pin, aperture, or scope.

In addition, the vertical bar generally features a graduated scale either on the front or, the side of the bar and, the block is designed in such a way that it can be loosened and then easily micro-adjusted at any point along the vertical bar and then tightened again before shooting.

In addition, the same is true of the sight pin in that it can be loosened and then micro-adjusted in or out and then tightened again.

Consequently, this type of target archery sight is often called a “Slide-Bar Sight”.

Furthermore, another defining difference between target sights and hunting sights is that target sights only have a single sight pin.

Of course, the reason that target sights only have a single sight pin is that target archery often requires a level of concentration that hunting does not and having more than one sight pin in the archer’s sight picture can be distracting.

Therefore, target bow sights are designed to only contain a single sight pin which is made easily adjustable for changes in the distance to the target by the sliding block up or down.

Single-Pin Adjustable Archery Sights

Single-pin adjustable archery sights have an appearance that is similar to fixed-pin sights but, operate more like a slide-bar target sight.

Thus, while they will work for precision target shooting, they are actually designed to provide hunters with their own version of the target archer’s slide-bar sight.

Therefore, they generally feature a frame and a pin guard similar to a fixed-pin sight with a single, vertical, sight pin positioned in the center of the pin guard and, the frame is usually micro-adjustable for windage.

However, rather than a fixed extension arm, single-pin adjustable sights instead feature a pivoting extension arm that extends both in front of and behind the riser where it mates with a bracket that displays a graduated scale.

Consequently, this type of archery sight can be quickly and easily adjusted for changes in yardage from the belly side of the bow and thus, all a hunter has to do is to judge the correct distance to the target, then slide the extension arm either up or down the graduated scale until the indicator arm is at the correct point on the scale and, he is then ready to draw and shoot.

Pendulum Archery Sights

Once again as the name implies, Pendulum archery sights are designed in such a way that the entire body of the sight pivots when the bow is tilted downward and thus, once set correctly, pendulum sights will automatically adjust to the proper elevation setting for any given distance out to a maximum given yardage (usually 35 yards).

Therefore, although pendulum archery sights appear similar to fixed-pin sights, pendulum sights commonly have only one sight pin since more than one is not necessary.

Also, they generally have a weight of some sort affixed to the bottom of the sight body or pin guard that causes the sight to pivot when the bow is tilted downward which, in turn, automatically raises the sight pin to the correct elevation.

Fixed-Pin Archery Sights

As the name implies, fixed-pin bow sights have sight pins that are fixed in place rather than the quick adjust feature found on target sights.

Also, unlike target sights, fixed-pin sights are specifically designed for the purpose of hunting and thus, they commonly have either 3, 5, or 7 sight pins. In addition, they also differ drastically in appearance from target sights in that they consist of a much shorter extension arm to make them more maneuverable in the woods at the end of which is attached a short, vertical, frame that contains the pins and enables each pin to be individually adjusted for elevation.

In addition, all hunting sights feature a ping guard which is a metal ring that extends around the sight pins in order to protect them from brush and tree limbs and which is usually either round or D shaped.

Furthermore, most fixed-pin bow sights are also designed in such a way that the frame that contains the sight pins and the pin guard can be moved both up and down as well as left and right to adjust all of the pins at once for both the windage and the elevation.

Last, you should also be aware that fixed-pin sights are commonly available with either a horizontal or vertical sight pin arrangement.

However, most archers tend to prefer the horizontal pin arrangement over the vertical pin arrangement because horizontal sight pins display a distinct space between the sight pin points.

Additional Bow Sight Features

Slide-Bar Sight Pins, Apertures, and Scopes

It should also be noted that in addition to single sight pins of varying diameters, both apertures and scopes are available to fit the threaded insert in the sliding block.

For instance, most target sight pins feature a round ball on the end that is one of several different diameters.

But, other configurations are available such as a small circle with a tiny vertical sight pin mounted in the center, a small circle with crosshairs affixed in the center, etcetera. Plus, there are a few manufacturers who also make bow scopes!

However, contrary to what you might envision, bow scopes do not look anything at all like rifle or handgun scopes.

Instead, they consist of a large circle made from clear plastic or aluminum which has a threaded rod protruding from the side which threads into the sliding block and which contains a single magnifying lens.

In addition, they are generally designed in such a way that you can easily change magnification levels simply by changing lenses.

Sight Lights

If you are one of those hunters who likes to be in the woods before sunrise and/or who likes to stay until after dark, then a good sight light is a necessary addition to your archery sight.

These lights generally consist of a small, brass, or aluminum canister that contains a single LED and the watch batteries necessary to operate it.

However, even though most fixed-pin sights have a threaded hole in the pin guard where the sight light can be installed, they generally do not come with a sight light and thus, it must be purchased separately.

Furthermore, they work best when used in conjunction with fiber optic sight pins because the fiber optic material will collect, and then transmit, the light throughout the strand to provide a significantly brighter aiming point to enable you to take shots in low light conditions that would otherwise be impossible.

Lighted Sight Pins

Although sight lights do work to illuminate the sight pins, they do not work particularly well because it’s difficult for the fiber optic strands to collect enough light from the LED to make them sufficiently bright when the light is mounted at a distance as it is when it’s inserted into the pin guard.

Therefore, there is another type of archery sight in which the sight light is mounted either in the extension arm or, in the body of the sight so that it is placed directly adjacent to the fiber optic strands rather mounted at a distance in the pin guard and thus, significantly more of the light emitted from the LED is collected and then transmitted through the fiber optic strands.

Consequently, this type of archery sight does come with a sight light and, due to its design, the sight pins on this type of sight appear noticeably brighter than on those where the sight light is mounted in the pin guard.

Therefore, they are often the best choice for hunting at night with a riser-mounted archery light.

Two excellent choices in each category

Sur-Loc Challenger 400 Slide-Bar Archery Sight

Sure Loc Challenger 400 Target Sight

The Sure-Loc Challenger 400 target archery sight is made from machined aluminum and is available in both right and left hand models with your choice of a 6 inch or 9 inch extension arm.

Also, it features a Cam-Assist 3-Axis leveling block, a patented Split-Block design to make swapping sight pins, apertures, or scopes a simple matter, and micro-adjustments in precise, repeatable, .002 inch increments along with a reliable vertical locking mechanism.

Last, it also features weatherproof components and newly formulated bushings to enable the sight to remain consistent in all weather conditions.

Note: does not include a sight pin, aperture, or scope.

Sword Sights Titan Slide-Bar Archery Sight

Sword Sights Sword Titan Sight .010 Black Right Hand

The Sword Sights Titan target archery sight is made from machined, T6061, aluminum, has a 6 inch extension arm, and is available in both right and left hand models.

Also, it includes a 1.5” Cyclops, dual rod, scope and lens retainer with a single vertical in your choice of .010 or .019 inch diameters and pre-printed yardage tapes. Also the scope accepts either the 2x or 4x lenses sold separately.

In addition both the windage and elevation are micro-adjustable but, you are given a choice between the “short” (2 inch) or “long” (3.5 inch) travel versions. Last, it also includes a rheostat adjustable LED light kit to illuminate the single sight pin and, it comes with a hard carrying case.

Apex Gear Covert Pro Adjustable Single-Pin Archery Sight

Trophy Ridge Pursuit Vertical Pin Bow Sight (Right Hand)

Undoubtedly one of the most innovative single-pin, adjustable, archery sights on the market today, the Apex Gear Covert Pro is made entirely from machined aluminum.

However, rather than adjusting the elevation of the “pin” at the rear of the sight on the belly side of the riser as is common with this type of sight, the Covert Pro is adjusted in the center of the mounting bracket in front of the riser and, elevation adjustments are made by turning a large, knurled, knob while the elevation is displayed on a graduated scale on the inside of the mounting bracket opposite the adjustment knob.

However, rather than featuring a single, vertical, sight pin as most sights of this type do, the Covert Pro instead features a clear lens with graduated crosshairs and a rheostat controlled green dot in the center with 11 brightness settings.

Plus, the Gravity-Line rotational adjustment system enables the sight aperture to be easily tilted for fine tuning.

HHA Optimizer Ultra Single-pin Archery Sight

HHA DS-XL5019 Optimizer Lite Ultra XL 5000 .019 Sight (Black) Bowhunting World’s Reader’s Choice Award winner for the best moveable sight of the year for ten straight years, the HHA Optimizer Ultra single-pin adjustable archery sight is made entirely from CNC machined aluminum.

One of the most innovative moveable archery sights on the market, the Optimizer Ultra employs a precision, gear driven, wheel to change the elevation of the sight pin combined with two, preprinted, sight tapes, that require you to sight in at both 20 and 60 yards to determine which tape works for your bow and then, once you have determined the correct tape, you are then dialed in by the yard for any distance between 20 and 80 yards!

Last, it also features a single, vertical, .019 inch diameter fiber optic sight pin and a Mathews Harmonic Dampener is installed to help eliminate noise and vibration.

Last, an optional burst light is available.

Predator Products Company Predator IV Pendulum Sight with Starlite Pin

Predator Products Co Predator Iv Pndlm W/Starlte Pin

Designed to automatically adjust for the correct elevation when shooting at a downward angle, the Predator Products Predator IV pendulum archery sight features a bracket and dovetail assembly made from molded aluminum with a molded plastic pin guard.

In addition, it also features a single, TruGlo fiber optic pin affixed to a ball bearing pendulum assembly which enables the sight pin to pivot when the bow is tilted downward.

In addition, it also features a patented five-way adjustment system that adjusts for arrow speed, windage, gross elevation, full-range accuracy adjustment and, a short range pendulum stop.

Last, a light kit is available to further illuminate the sight pin.

TruGlo Pendulum Archery Sight

TRUGLO Pendulum 1-Pin Sight .029" Black

Also designed specifically for tree stand hunters, the TruGlo pendulum archery sight has been a long standing favorite among avid bow hunters.

Made entirely from CNC machined aluminum the TruGlo Predator features a very solid, yet compact, design that is adjustable for both windage and elevation without the need for tools.

In addition, its robust design makes it extremely quiet and, the pendulum can be locked in place for ground shooting.

Another excellent feature is the extra-long, wrapped, fiber optic sight pin available in your choice of .019 or .029 inch diameters.

Plus, the sight is designed in such a way that the included sight light injects its light directly into the fiber optic stand in order to create a much brighter sight pin than is possible with other types of pendulum sights.

Plus, it is adjustable to accommodate both right and left hand archers.

Apex Gear Accu-Strike Pro Archery Sight

APEX GEAR Acu-Strike Pro 5-Pin Sight .019" Black A high quality, fixed pin, archery sight for hunters on a budget, the Apex Gear Accu-Strike Pro archery sight features a compact, lightweight, design made entirely from both machined and molded aluminum.

Also, it’s available in both 3-pin and 5-pin models with .019 inch diameter fiber optic sight pins and is micro-adjustable for both windage and elevation. Plus, each pin is individually adjustable for elevation as well.

In addition, it features a multi-position bracket so that you can choose how close or far to mount the sight and the bracket is also reversible for increased vertical adjustability.

Plus, it features extra-long, TRU-FLO, fiber optic strands routed though the bracket for protection and increased exposure to ambient light and, it also includes a micro push button sight light mounted in the side of the mounting bracket where it can inject its light directly into the fiber optic strands for increased brightness in low light conditions.

Spot Hogg Real Deal 5 Pin Fixed Archery Sight

Spot Hogg Real Deal Sight Wrapped Large Guard 5 Pin .010 RH

A truly excellent fixed-pin archery sight from one of the best manufacturers on the market, the Spot Hogg Real Deal is specifically designed for hunters but, has the accuracy needed to win a 3D tournament.

Featuring a compact design machined entirely from T6061, the Real Deal is available in your choice of 3 pin, 5 pin, and 7 pin configurations and has a vertical aiming wire for fast alignment.

In addition, the bulletproof pin design completely conceals and protects the fiber optic strands. Plus, the sight body is micro-adjustable for windage and elevation and each sight pin is individually adjustable for elevation.

Wrap Up

So, in order to help you make sense of the mind boggling number of archery sights available from the myriad of manufacturers, the key is to fist decide whether you want a dedicated target sight such as a slide-bar sight or, a more general purpose hunting sight such as a fixed pin sight or, a hybrid sight such as a single pin adjustable sight.

Then, you will need to determine what features such as micro-adjustments and lighted sight pins are most important to you as well as how much you are willing to spend on an archery sight then narrow your choices accordingly.

Then, once you have a manageable range of choices, it becomes much easier to choose the one that you like best.