October 28, 2010
Examine all your aiming options.
By Michael Veine
String-mounted peep sights have been a staple on hunting bows for decades and are undoubtedly the most popular aiming device used by archers. My first compound bow, a 1975 Jennings model, was equipped with a peep sight. Even in those old days, it didn't take long to realize peep sights have some shortcomings. Alternatives to peep sights can improve low-light performance, boost arrow speed, reduce target acquisition time and eliminate peep misalignment issues. Some also cure problems with bow torque and other shooting form flaws.
I've been shooting a Hind Sight for six years, and my accuracy and hunting efficiency have never been better. If you've ever experienced problems or shortcomings associated with a peep sight, then perhaps it's time to consider your other options.
Accomplished deer hunter and outdoor writer Don Higgins is best known as author of the book, Hunting Trophy Whitetails in the Real World. This veteran bowhunter has an enviable reputation for consistently sending giant bucks to the taxidermist. Higgins shot instinctively for many years before eventually opting to put an Eradicator Bow Sight on his hunting rig.
"The main reason I never liked using sights when I started bowhunting was that I hated using peep sights," said Higgins, who prefers the Eradicator's simple, rugged design.
"I always set up my stands for up-close deer encounters and will not take shots beyond 30 yards. Therefore, I really like a single-pin setup like the Eradicator. It helps acquire my target quickly, and with the tritium sight pins, it's awesome in low-light conditions. Those qualities certainly helped me harvest my biggest buck to date."
On Dec. 1, 2004, Higgins was bowhunting from a treestand positioned along a field edge flanking a small woodlot. "I had seen a huge, non-typical buck three times that season," Higgins said. "Just before dark, two does and three fawns ambled past and began feeding in the field. A few minutes later, a nice 8-pointer followed the other deer out of the woodlot.
"While watching him, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning in my stand with bow at ready, I spotted the big non-typical heading my way. He stopped abruptly just short of my shooting lane. When he finally stepped forward, I quickly came to full draw, centered the Eradicator sight on his chest and released."
After a 30-minute wait, Higgins tracked the deer and found a trophy that measured a whopping 214 inches gross and 207 inches net. "The awesome low-light performance and quick target acquisition of the Eradicator were instrumental," said Higgins, who has been using the Eradicator for more than a decade.
Another well-known bowhunter who has abandoned peep sights is Tom Miranda, whose hunting exploits have been featured on ESPN television for nearly 20 years. Miranda switched from a peep sight to a Hind Sight in 2002 and considers his Mathews bow with Hind Sight to be "the ultimate bowhunting weapon."
"The Hind Sight has some major advantages over peep sight setups," Miranda said. "Perhaps the biggest benefit is enhanced low-light performance. When the eye focuses on the tiny opening of a peep sight during low-light conditions, that small amount of light that permeates the peep is greatly diminished, causing your pupil to dilate. As a result, your focus narrows significantly, allowing you to only see clearly those objects that are very close. That's when sight pins become extremely hard to see and the target darkens to the point that ethical shot opportunities are often lost.
"Older hunters will really appreciate the Hind Sight. As we age, our eyes are not able to focus as well and low-light vision often suffers. Peep sights often become more of a problem the older an archer gets. My eyes have gotten worse over the years, but thanks to the Hind Sight, I'm still able to stay on top of my game."
Miranda also believes that because the Hind Sight is mounted to the riser instead of the string, problems with bow torque and sight alignment are eliminated -- providing more consistent accuracy. Other advantages Miranda touts include a slight increase in arrow speed (due to lack of weight and resistance from a string-mounted peep sight) and not having to worry about peep alignment problems or messing around with rubber tubing to keep the peep aligned.
"With multiple sight pins, I've taken game out to 75 yards with the Hind Sight," Miranda said. "I've even taken three of the four subspecies of North American sheep, and I can't wait for a desert bighorn to round out my sheep slam!"
If trying to shoot without a peep is something you'd like to consider, here's a brief look at five alternate options:
The Eradicator functions much like an open sight on a firearm with a combined rear leaf and front post design. Therefore, it eliminates the need for both a peep sight and a pin sight.
Constructed entirely from aircraft aluminum, the Eradicator is extremely durable. With a rear reference point attached to the riser, bow torque is eliminated because you can't line the sights up if you're torquing the bow. The Eradicator offers an uncluttered sight picture for quick target acquisition. Based on my personal experience, it is awesome for close-range deer hunting and any situation where quick shots are needed.
The Eradicator is available in an original, fixed-sight model or an adjustable version that allows for long-range shooting. Both versions come with either painted or tritium sight pins and are offered in black or your choice of two camouflage patterns. They also come with an unconditional lifetime warrantee.
MSRP: $66.50-$178, depending on model. Contact: Eradicator Bow Sights; 800-750-7910; www.eradicator.com
The Hind Sight is a riser-mounted crosshair device that's available in multiple configurations. It can be used in combination with your existing pin sight or purchased with an integrated pin sight that makes the Hind Sight a complete sighting solution.
The Hind Sight's rear crosshairs are impregnated with ProGlow20, a luminescent material that will glow in dark conditions for more than 12 hours. Because the Hind Sight mounts directly to the riser, any torque or other shooting form problems can easily be identified and corrected during the shot cycle.
The Hind Sight is a great solution for bowhunters who shoot at longer
ranges, because it allows the unobstructed use of multiple sight pins. Components are made from durable, lightweight aluminum, and the fiber optic sight pins on Hind Sight's integrated sights are provided by TruGlo. Tritium pins also are available as an option for the ultimate in low-light performance.
MSRP: $25-$155, depending on model. Contact: Hind Sight; 734-878-2842; www.hindsightco.com
Kingsway's TRIAD eliminates the need for a peep sight with a riser-mounted system that includes both front and rear apertures. Simply line up the front pin between the two rear pins -- again, similar to an open rifle sight on a gun -- and you're on target.
The TRIAD is available as a fixed sight or an adjustable model that allows archers to quickly move the sight pin for various distances, even while at full draw. They also have a stand-alone rear sight that can be used with any front sight on the market. TRIAD sights feature sturdy aluminum construction and a three-dot alignment system for quick target acquisition and accuracy. And, like other riser-mounted systems, it's impossible to line up the pins while torquing the bow.
MSRP: $40-$150, depending on model. Contact: TRIAD; 616-796-0063; www.kingswayarchery.com
The Peep Eliminator is marketed as the "Compound Bow Rifle Alignment Sight." The device is a stand-alone accessory mounted directly to the riser. It functions like the rear leaf of an iron sight on a rifle, providing a rear reference point for aiming. The Peep Eliminator can be used to enhance virtually any pin sight on the market. It's CNC machined from durable, lightweight black anodized aluminum and weighs just three ounces. The Peep Eliminator incorporates TruGlo green or orange fiber optic alignment dots for good low-light performance, and models with integrated TruGlo or Copper John front sights also are available.
The manufacturer claims the product allows users to shoot accurately out to 50 yards with a single pin. Since the rear reference of the sight is mounted to the riser, any bow torque will be quite visible in the sight picture. The Peep Eliminator also offers consistent shooting on both level ground or from treestands. There's even an optional adapter kit that allows archers to aim with their dominant eye even if they are shooting a bow designed for their non-dominant eye. In other words, a shooter who is right-eye dominant could accurately wield a left-handed bow, and vice versa.
The Peep Eliminator comes with a lifetime guarantee.
MSRP: $50-$196, depending on model. Contact: Peep Eliminator; 618-526-4427; www.peepeliminator.com
Sterner Duttera's String Splitter differs from other peep sight alternatives in that it is mounted to the string just like a peep but avoids many of the traditional peep's shortcomings. As the name implies, it splits the string so archers can aim through a very large hole -- thus enhancing low-light performance over peep sights. The archer's field of vision also is greatly increased, up to 100 percent compared to a peep. String Splitters come in four sizes -- 11„16-, 7„16-, ¼- and 3„16- inch -- to suit any bowhunting situation. The largest String Splitter is ideal for close-range shooting, while the smaller ones will work best for longer shots.
For optimal performance, String Splitters should be used with Sterner Duttera's Peep Aligner. The Peep Aligner is an 8-grain piece of machined aluminum that attaches to the lower end of the bowstring between the center serving and lower serving and solves alignment problems by eliminating string rotation.
MSRP: $17-$23 for both String Splitter and Peep Aligner, depending on model. Contact: String Splitter/Peep Aligner; 717-699-0005; www.sternerduttera.com