Shooting a bow that has a peep sight installed is much like shooting an iron-sighted rifle; you must have good alignment of the front and rear sights for pinpoint accuracy. The peep sight is the rear sight, so don't take it for granted. Not only must it be the correct size for your hunting conditions, it must also be anchored solidly in place with a system that allows you to quickly determine if it has moved.
Your peep sight may seem like a fairly benign part of your bow and, if you are like me, you rarely think about it. But in reality, the peep is far more critical that many bowhunters realize. Anything that impacts your sight picture is a big deal, and few things impact the sight picture more directly than your peep.
You only have a few variables that you can control when aiming, and one of them is the size and position of your peep sight.
Improving your sight picture should be a priority during the off-season. In this column, I am going to offer three tips that will help use your peep sight to your advantage.
The Right Size
I use different peep sights for different hunting conditions. The Tru-Peep by Fletcher, which I use, comes in a wide variety of sizes and I use them all. When I know the shots are going to occur in full daylight, such as when I'm stalking mule deer or elk in the open terrain of the Southwest, I use a peep with a very small aperture.
There are two good reasons to use a small peep. First, by reducing the size of the aperture, I reduce my margin for error when aiming. It is easier to keep the pin in the center of the peep when it is small. For example, if I aim with the pin halfway between the center and the edge of the peep with a large opening, my arrow will hit much farther from the aiming point than if I aim the same way using a peep with a small opening.
Second, a small peep improves your depth of field. Depth of field is a photographic term. Photographers know that by reducing the diameter of the aperture in the lens (increasing the f-stop) they can increase the amount of the image that is in focus. When using a small peep sight, both the pins and the target can be in focus. You won't have to decide which one to focus on. Having to make this choice is one of the downfalls of using an extremely large peep sight that many bowhunters favor when centering their entire pin guard in the peep.
When I'm hunting in deep woods with a heavy canopy, I switch to a larger peep by necessity. The need for improved low light visibility outweighs my obsession with extreme precision. As a result, I realize I am not quite as accurate under these conditions and limit my shot distance accordingly.
Aiming Over The Peep
When you find yourself in a dark setting with a small peep, you have a very interesting option. You can drop your anchor point and aim using the gap in your string that is directly above the peep sight. Or, if it is more comfortable, you can aim below your peep sight. This gap between the string and your peep produces a giant opening.
Of course, you need to practice ahead of time to know how much difference this will make. For example, I am able to use my 40-yard pin for 20-yard shots when aiming under the peep. This simple trick is a good one to add to your bag, because it might well gain you a trophy under the right conditions.
Again, this is something you must practice extensively with each and every bow you use, because it will change with arrow speeds and different setups.
Securing The Peep
In the past, I have been lax in securing my peep sight in the string. I believe this is one reason why I sometimes found myself shooting slightly low or high at my daily practice sessions during hunting season. I rarely fought a left or right miss, but often had to adjust for slight vertical discrepancies.
I often wondered if maybe these were caused by my peep hanging in brush or on the bow case, or on some other object, and then moving slightly up or down. It takes only a few pounds of pressure with your fingers to move a peep sight up the string …›-inch. That is enough to throw you off on mid-range and longer shots.
I decided this season I would take this aspect of bow setup more seriously. Most bowhunters realize that by serving the peep into place they reduce the chances it will move, but even when served in, it can still be moved fairly easily.
Dave Holt stopped by our elk camp last season and we got to talking about peeps. He had an idea I am now using on all my bows. He suggested serving the peep as you normally would, then serve each of the legs of the serving beyond the point where the string splits.
So, when you are finished, you would have serving up to the bottom of the peep on the left leg of the split string and down to the top of the peep on the right leg of the split string. If the peep moves up or down, a gap will be created between one of these servings and the peep and will be easily recognized.
While this won't keep the peep from moving much better than a conventional serving job, you will be able to tell quickly if the peep has moved, because you can see this gap and you can move the peep back to its original position.
In the past, I often used white out on the peep and string to help mark the correct location, but the white out rubbed off quickly. Dave's serving method is much more permanent and will quickly reveal whether the peep is correctly positioned.
Pinpoint accuracy depends on a good rear sight, so don't take your peep for granted. Not only must it be the correct size for your hunting conditions, it also must be anchored solidly in place with a system that allows you to quickly determine if it has moved.