October 28, 2010
Bold new technologies to keep archers on target.
It's always fascinating to compare "old" archery tackle with new. Recalling obsolete, sometimes laughable (in hindsight) equipment designs, I'm not so much amazed engineers considered such models, but that I contently used them. With each technological step forward, I exclaim, "Yes! This is it! It can get no better!" But of course it always does. Nowhere is this more obvious than with hunting sights. The gap between where we started (matchsticks taped to risers) and where we've arrived (adjustable, holographic aiming points) is truly remarkable. Bowhunters, as they say, have never had it better.
Early hunting sights were impressive only for their flimsy construction, vulnerability to damage and pins that disappeared in dim light. It's no wonder I remained a dedicated barebow shooter so long. On more than one occasion, I recall coming to full draw on game and discovering pins bent at crazy angles, completely useless as aiming points.
Lately, I can't remember a single episode when a hunting sight became completely useless, including a sight backed over by a Jeep during an African safari. Rugged, machined aluminum construction has replaced the stamped parts of old; metal pins now protect fiber optics from snags and outright impacts, while oversized bolts make fine-tuning adjustments fast and secure.
When I make such statements, I immediately think Spot-Hogg, a company that has made its name with indestructible sights. Spot-Hogg's aptly named Bulletproof ($90; p. 43) is the newest incarnation. The Bulletproof's three pins are backed by eight inches of .019-inch fiber that's encased in tubing then wrapped around a circular pin guard and further protected by aluminum crossbars and clear, high-impact plastic. The sight also includes milled-aluminum construction, white peep-alignment ring and 4.5 inches of vertical adjustment.
Another aptly labeled model, Axcel Sights' new Armortech-HD Pro ($270-$300) embodies ruggedness. A micro-adjustable dovetail mounting bracket with Mathews Harmonic Damper allows more control over pin-guard/peep alignment. Armor Fiber Technology (A.F.T.) protects four, five or seven pins holding .010-, .019- or .029-inch extended fiber. True Center Vision (T.C.V.) aperture includes an hourglass interior to assure round sight pictures from any reasonable angle. High Speed (H.S.) thin pins provide zero-gap, while the engraved and highlighted peep ring is set to pin depth for added long-range accuracy.
Toxonics' new Wrangler ($43-$80) is an ultra-light sight heavy on ruggedness. It holds three or five bladed-steel Metal Optic Pins and unbreakable polymer fiber extended through the offset extension bracket for further protection. Other features include an optional, fully contained lighting kit, super-bright peep-alignment ring, laser-engraved adjustment marks and sleek fiber case milled into the one-piece pin guard.
Super durable construction and superb pin protection highlight Schaffer's Opposition ($139.99) sights. Featuring a unique Pivot Lock Attachment, archers can remove and install the sight rock solid and instantaneously in the exact place, time after time. Also highly unique and integral to its design is its Opposing Pin Technology -- pins that stack horizontally from both sides of the sight housing, which provides a balanced sight window and super tight pin gaps. Fiber hank aiming points are protected in stainless steel pin bodies, while the ends are encapsulated by Teflon Tubing, which is fed through the sight body. Available in a four, .029-inch pin Backwoods model and an 8-pin Backcountry version.
I couldn't discuss tough without including G5 Outdoors' all-new Optix Rock ($100-$130). True to G5's reputation, the Rock is packed with innovation and bulletproof, vibration-free construction. Rack-and-pinion gearing drives precise micro windage and elevation adjustments without added weight, while four .010- or .019-inch machined-metal pins are backed by two feet of guarded fiber for super-bright aiming points. An innovative, dual-track Gear Loc Moveable Pin System accommodates precise, solid lockdown, and a stepped mounting bracket adds versatility. Available in Realtree AP, Lost Camo or black, G5's Durafuse coating assures a sharp, long-lasting finish.
Easy Does It
Today's sights are easier and quicker to adjust, allowing more shooting time. They also solve many of the recurring problems experienced with older sights, instantly boosting accuracy and shooting comfort. These innovations are all designed with a common purpose: improving your shooting in actual hunting conditions.
Standout technologies include packages such as Cobra's new Python ($90-$140) sight series. The offset mounting bracket accommodates a wide variety of bows and anchor points. Metal, thin-profile pins allow the tightest pin gaps and dependable protection, while second- and third-axis bubble levels offer greater accuracy. One model also includes toolless adjustments for faster sighting (also offered with simple dovetail or precise micro adjustability). They hold three or five .019- or .029-inch fiber pins.
The QC 2 ($130-$160) from Sure-Loc includes the novel convenience of QC Modules, allowing you to quickly swap pin configurations as hunt conditions change. The unit's featherlike feel is the result of a skeletonized, Isogrid frame and pin guard (holding new green bubble level) and simple, direct-mount bracket. Bladed metal pins support bright, durable extended fibers of .010-, .019- or .029-inch diameter, all with precise .0015-inch micro adjustment capabilities. Look for them in four- or five-pin models in black, Realtree APG and Lost Camo.
Custom Bow Equipment's Sniper LC ($179) features dogleg, dual-position mounting for added versatility and all-metal construction, including tough steel pins holding bright fiber aiming points. There's a Mathews Harmonic Damper nestled in the mounting bracket for ultimate stealth. The sight also holds a great example of the trend toward extra-large adjustment bolts for faster, surer sighting. A rheostat light with three intensity settings illuminates four extended-fiber pins. Look for it in Lost Camo.
Trophy Ridge has always represented innovation with creative features such as vertical-pin technology and the inclusion of silencing dampeners in mounting brackets. The new Hit-Man Series ($60-$100; p. 43) includes milled-aluminum construction and a host of appealing features such as extra-bright horizontal pins backed by aperture-wrapped fiber encased in a rugged Front Fiber Optic Ring case, zero-pin-gap capabilities, bubble level and luminescent Contrast Glo Ring with Spectral Distribution Technology for easy peep alignment. Hit-Man sights are available in three-, five- and seven-pin
configurations with .010- or .019-inch fiber. Solid dovetail and smooth micro-adjust sighting options also are available.
Perhaps the biggest hits in hunting sights are designs maximizing brightness of precise, fiber-optic aiming points -- including many models already addressed. This is good news for those with failing eyesight and all of us who pursue whitetails, which often present shots during the low-light morning and evening periods. Sharper, more defined pins are useful in any light for smarter aiming, but they're particularly useful during encounters with trophy game treading the very seams of legal shooting hours beneath a heavy forest canopy or overcast skies.
Hunting-sight brightness started with TruGlo, originator of fiber-optic-backed pins. The new Carbon XS ($30-$50) also sets a new standard for lightweight design. Its 3.5-ounce package is made possible through carbon composite construction while giving up nothing in accuracy or durability. Tru-Flo technology and extra-long fiber assures the brightest pins possible. Fiber is fully protected by carefully wrapping each around a 1.8-inch round pin guard and encasing them in clear, high-impact plastic. Tru-Touch coating dampens vibration and minimizes glare, while a glow-in-the-dark peep alignment ring aids low-light target acquisition. Available in black or Realtree APG finish.
Apex Gear's new Accu-Strike ($50-$70), in black, Realtree APG or Lost Camo, provides the perfect compact design for today's shorter bow models. It also includes Tru-Flo technology for ultra-bright aiming points, extra-long pin fibers encased in protective tubing routed through the mounting bracket for added protection and maximum light transmission. Fibers are easily replaced. Tru-Touch coating provides a quiet shot and reduces glare. The 1.8-inch diameter round pin guard holds a luminescent peep ring and bubble level, and a push-button light illuminates the pins without allowing distracting light to escape the housing.
Fuse Accessories won quick notoriety through innovations such as aperture-mounted Shock Rod Technology dampening and uncompromising quality. They've also become known for extra-bright pins bowhunters demand. The new Pilot M-Series ($150; p. 43) includes three, five or seven thin metal pins backed by super-bright extended fiber housed in protective tubing and routed through mounting brackets, making damage virtually impossible. Other features include finger-tightened micro adjustment, second- and third-axis tuning, a white peep ring and descending-diameter pins (.029-inch top, .019-inch bottom).
Outdoor DNA's Phantom FG4 ($160) bowsight features three feet of fiber optic per pin and the Triple Threat Reticle System -- a reticle circle at the top of the sight window that, when aligned with your top pin, helps eliminate torque and left and right misses. Using a high-tech prism and angled construction, each aiming point is secured in the fiber- protecting body and cast onto an angled glass sight plane. Similar to a hologram, the Phantom leaves no exposed fiber to break or damage. Top features on the Phantom FG4 include bubble level, large adjustment screws, laser etched windage and elevation markings and a bright orange pin guard alignment ring.
Movable sights (which typically have a single pin but can have more) borrow technology from unlimited-class target archery, allowing a single, non-obtrusive pin to be dialed to exact ranges. No more gapping between pins for odd ranges, no more confusion over which pin to choose during stressful encounters with game. Dial the range to the very yard and shoot. They're deadly in Western spot-and-stalk settings where ranges tend to stretch, giving bowhunters a higher degree of precision when targets stand out there at, say, 47 yards.
Decidedly Western Black Gold (a Montana company) distilled accuracy-enhancing features normally found in target sights into a rugged hunting model. The Ascent ($178) operates via a "Dial of Death" finger knob for instant, dead nuts ranging without fanfare. An adjustable, needlepoint yardage indicator accommodates exact range selection and a wider range of adjustability than most movers. It also includes Black Gold's proprietary PhotoChromatic fiber housing, which darkens in bright light and lightens in low light for optimum pin brightness in all conditions. Choose from a single vertical .019-inch pin option or three .019-inch horizontal pins surrounded by a white peep-alignment ring. Both include a bubble level.
PSE's sight line features a number of models to accommodate most archers. For bowhunters who prefer one-pin sighting systems, the smooth-operating Slider ($75) is easy to tune and includes ample vertical range to dial in long distances. The Slider features a micro-drive windage adjustment and fully adjustable leveling block. A fluorescent ringed pin guard holds one green .029-inch fiber optic sight pin.
String-mounted peep sights have long remained a necessary evil. They assure repeatable form (and accuracy) but limit low-light shooting efficiency and often misbehave in matters of rotation at the worst possible moment. Peep-eliminating sights to the rescue! Traditionally, these designs have mimicked firearm sights to allow peep-free sighting while eliminating hand torque and the problems associated with trying to view targets through a tiny metal ring in near darkness. To assure consistent anchoring, a single pin (typically the bottom pin) is nestled into the rear notch, while other pins can then be used according to range. This is just one system. Following are others.
Compound Bow Rifle Sight's Peep Eliminator ($50) includes a bracket securing a notched, adjustable rear sight accented by twin TruGlo fiber optic points. It's designed to use with an existing sight and is milled from aluminum and provides multiple mounting options.
Hind Sight's new Crossfire ($124) includes dual Twilight, parallel sight blades on the rear bracket, opening the sight picture and allowing surer sighting in low light, extended and wrapped fiber bedded over glow-in-the-dark tape, further extending low-light usefulness. Aiming involves centering a center front pin with the opposing rear blades and placing the others on target according to range.
Fairly new to the bowhunting scene is the Square-Up ($60), which can be used with or without a peep sight. The rear mounted sight add-on provides a visual reference on bow torque and helps eliminate left and right misses. Simple to install and easy to tune, the Square-Up should be popular among bowhunters.
Field Logic's awesome new IQ Bowsight ($200-$220; p. 43) works differently than other peep-eliminating sights by incorporating its no-peep technology directly into a standard sight housing. The Retina Lock, Tunnel Vision System situated atop the round aperture includes a magnifying lens in front of a colored optic pin. When aligned correctly, it produces a green glow behind a black centering dot, allowing precise shooting minus peep, while also honing shooting form. It includes machined-aluminum construction, bubble level and thin-profile "StackTight" metal pins. The overhead PinPocket case stores extended fiber in a clear, protective LightTrap for extra bright low-light aiming. Other features include four-axis adjustability and four- or seven-pin options. The truly revolutionary TAS (Tacti
cal Archery Systems) S.A.B.O. (Superimposed Ambient Ballistic Optic) ($170) includes zero parallax and no electronics. In plain speak, the sight provides three individually adjustable holographic aiming points requiring no peep for perfect shot alignment. Fiber aiming dots are superimposed onto a concave lens, magnifying intensity in low light, compensating for impact no matter what angle the dots are viewed from and providing an unobstructed view of the target. Aligning the top dot with the tip of the lens triangle ensures perfect shooting form. It includes milled-aluminum construction and weighs 8.9 ounces.
The sights highlighted in this article are just a sampling of the newest and most innovative sights available to bowhunters. For more product information, visit the manufacturers' Web sites listed below.
Taking Aim At Sights
- Apex Gear, Inc., 888-887-8456, www.apex-gear.com
- Axcel Sights, 434-929-2800, www.axcelsights.com
- Black Gold Sights, 406-388-9060, www.blackgoldsights.com
- Cobra Manufacturing, 800-352-6272, www.cobraarchery.com
- Compound Bow Rifle Alignment Sight, 618-526-4427, www.peepeliminator
- Custom Bow Equipment/Scott Archery, 606-663-2734, www.custombowequipment.com
- FUSE Accessories, 801-363-2990, www.fusearchery.com
- G5 Outdoors, 866-456-8836, www.g5outdoors.com
- Hind Sight, Inc., 734-878-2842, www.hindsightco.com
- IQ Bowsight, 800-282-4868, www.iqbowsight.com
- Lightning Bowstrings/Square-Up, 860-663-3949, www.lightningbowstrings.com
- Outdoor DNA, 406-880-0888, www.outdoordna.com
- Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE), 520-884-9065, www.pse-archery.com
- Schaffer Archery, 952-894-6169, www.schafferarchery.com
- Spot-Hogg Archery Products, 541-995-3702, www.spot-hogg.com
- Sure-Loc Archery Products, 812-689-9926, www.sureloc.com
- TAS (Tactical Archery Systems), (877) 686-7226, www.tacticalarcherysystems.com
- Toxonics, 573-436-5130, www.toxonics.com
- Trophy Ridge, 800-694-9494, www.trophyridge.com
- TruGlo, 888-887-8456, www.truglo.com