Optics are an essential piece of gear for all hunters, bowhunters are no exception.
There are 3 critical pieces to the bowhunting optics puzzle.
- Bow Sights – For tuning in your bow and taking accurate kill shots.
- Binoculars – For scanning, observing, and scouting.
- Rangefinder – For pinpointing range and inclination to take killing shots.
Each piece has its own traits and considerations, so let’s dig deeper into each of them.
1. Proper Bow Sight Selection & Setup
When choosing a peep sight for your bow, you are looking for reliability and consistency. However, this simple device can cause problems with accuracy if you are not careful about learning to use it. Rather than using a peep sight as a crutch, you will need to learn to use it as a reference point for lining up your sights.
Depending on your approach to bow hunting, you can either center the pin in the middle of the peep, or center the sight itself. This will help in determining what type of peep to use, as well as what you intend to focus on during action.
Now, when centering the pin in the center of the peep, you can have a few challenges. The size relation between the pin and sight is essential when attempting to align it, and it can be tricky when trying to get everything perfectly centered. You may also have trouble adjusting the anchor point in order to align everything.
If you insist on centering the pin, then search for a peep sight that lets an appropriate amount of light in while being small enough to work with your particular pin.
You will also need to consider how much light you are working with, and the larger the peep, the more light you let in.
The sight housing will play a big factor in choosing the right peep sight, which determines how many pins are used, the length of spacing and how much of a field view you are trying to view through the sight housing.
Riser to Sight Distance
You will also need to take into consideration how far the sight will actually be from the bow riser. The longer the distance, the larger the pin spread, and you will be able to aim much more precisely, but it will also be more sensitive and touchy.
Once you know the exact distance between your sight and riser, then you can choose a peep which allows a small amount of light around the colored ring or outside the sight ring, depending on your preference. However, you may want to start with a smaller sight, in order to avoid any area difficulties.
2. Choose Ideal Bowhunting Binoculars
Modern binoculars have evolved from bulky optics that couldn’t transmit sufficient light as darkness approached, to those that are lightweight, crisp and bright even in near darkness. The best bowhunting binoculars of today can help distinguish antlers, legs, and tails from the thick forest brush. These are details you would never otherwise see with the unaided eye. It is for that reason that binoculars are an incredibly valuable observation tool for bowhunters.
The challenge hunters will face, is when it comes down to choosing an appropriate piece of optics gear. There is a dizzying array of magnifications, objectives, lens coatings, and prices available in every store. Understanding these features can assist you in choosing the binoculars that best suits your needs. For a detailed guide to bowhunting binoculars, learn more here.
- Magnification – 8x, 10x, 12x where do you start? You might first think that higher magnification is better, but you’d be mistaken. With higher magnification, comes smaller field of view, less light collection, and sensitivity to hand movements. Bowhunters can’t shoot far enough to make the extra magnification workable. Instead an 8×32 or 8×42 will give you a bright and steady view, perfect for the woods environment.
- Objective – The objective lens is the number that refers to the diameter of the front light collecting lens. This number is usually in mm. The higher the objective size, the more light comes in through the binoculars, making vision clearer in situations of low light. Many bowhunters prefer the 8×42 size binoculars, because of their good light transmission, and high magnification.
- Price – Have you been through the store lately? You would have seem how wide binocular prices vary. They can be anywhere between $100 and $2,500 or higher. Like any other hunting product, there is a relationship between the price, glass quality, and clarity of the binocular. The cheapo binos will not satisfy you or last over the long run. Do yourself a favor and chose a midrange model from a top manufacturer like Vortex, Nikon, and Leupold. Be sure to also familiarize yourself with the warranty offered by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers offer lifetime and unconditional warranties on their products.
3. Consider Investing in a Laser Rangefinder
Modern bowhunting is anything but low tech. Advancements in materials and manufacturing techniques have made bows extremely powerful and deadly. On the flip side, these deadly bows can also serve to fatally injure an animal if hit off target. This is where a laser rangefinder can improve the bowhunter’s chances at a clean and ethical kill shot. The Precision Rifle blog has a great post on how rangefinders work.
Laser rangefinders are designed to give you an accurate distance to target. An accurate range measurement when bowhunting is important when factoring in the drop over distance that arrows can have. A difference of even 4 to 5 yards may be all it takes to go from a clean kill, to an animal that escapes, wounded and needlessly suffering. Even experienced hunters can be off by a significant distance. With a rangefinder, this is no longer an issue, and you will always have the accurate distance to help your aim.
Clean Shot Paths
Another problem to consider, is obstructions in the path of the shot. At the increasing distances that modern bows can reach, it can be impossible to see every possible branch or twig that is in the way. With the magnified optics that rangefinders have, you can get the best possible view of your target. This will allow you to find the cleanest path for your shot and avoid costly deflections.
A rangefinder for bowhunting will give you the best opportunity to take down your target. You will have the exact range you need to calculate your aim. On top of this you will have the clearest path available to your target. A good rangefinder will help you to reduce the number of maimed animals running off and replace them with clean kills.