By Cabe Johnson
When fiber optics found their way into archery, it was a game changer.
Sight manufacturers incorporated them into their pins, and all of a sudden, there was an explosion of bright and colorful pins. The pins were easier to see (especially in low light) and allowed shooters to get on target more quickly while aiming.
Many newer archers probably haven’t ever seen a sight without fiber-optic pins. Sights used to have metal/plastic pins, and the tips of the pins were painted with different colors — sometimes making them hard to differentiate through a dark peep sight. Nowadays, every sight has bright, glowing pins.
When we started using fiber-optic sights, we thought, The brighter, the better! We soon discovered that wasn’t necessarily the case.
When we first headed out to the archery range, the glowing pins seemed awesome, especially late in the evenings. Eventually, though, we noticed that when practicing in different lighting conditions, the pins would glow perfectly on some targets but felt like they were burning our retinas on others. It was also hard on some targets to see past the pin, which made it extremely hard to aim accurately. We felt like we were just aiming in the general area; like we were trying to look past the headlights of a car at night.
We eventually started dimming our fiber optics by either trimming the fibers down or using a cover to dim them. This made a world of difference. All of a sudden, our scores went up significantly. Being able to see and aim precisely mattered.
This worked great for target shooting, but we didn’t want to lose pin brightness for hunting. We didn’t feel that we needed the same pinpoint accuracy for hunting, but the brightness was still important in low-light situations.
So, for years, we all used the brightest fiber optics available for hunting. One evening, as the light was fading, one of us had an opportunity at a nice buck. The pins were glowing great, and it seemed like the meat was practically in the freezer. However, when the hunter came to full draw and looked through his peep sight, the brightness of the pins was so vibrant the buck just faded away into the background. Thinking the buck had left, the hunter pulled his head away from his bowstring and reacquired the buck’s position.
However, when he settled back into his anchor point, the pin was still so bright he couldn’t find the buck through his peep sight and sight window. This process went on until the buck wised up and headed for the hills.
Fiber optics helped, but some opportunities were lost because the fibers were too bright. So, very much like our target setups, we played around with ways to dampen the brightness. “The brighter, the better,” seemed to be the trend, but how much “glow” did we really need?
Everyone’s eyes and hunting situations are different, so there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution to pins that are too bright. Many of us have dampened ours with covers or by trimming the fibers. We found that pins that glow the minimum needed seem to give us the best accuracy and versatility in all situations.