June 15, 2016
What most bowhunters begin to understand after they've hunted varying terrain is that making a good shot in the field is entirely different than shooting a tight group at the range.
When distances are easily known, time is not a factor, and we can stand flat-footed and fire away, it's pretty easy to reap the benefits of modern compounds and the latest accessories.
However, when you're standing on the side of a mountain, shooting downhill at a bedded mule deer or even when trying to thread-the-needle at a cruising whitetail from your favorite treestand, the process of making a good shot becomes more difficult.
This is partly due to the nerves brought on by a season-making encounter, but there's far more to it than that.
The reality of hitting what you're aiming at involves a repeatable (and proper) shot process. This means you have to settle into your anchor, hold the bow perfectly level, float the correct pin just right, and barely dig into the release until it surprises you when the arrow is loosed. Fall short on any one aspect and the results will be dismal at best.
There really are only a few ways to shore up this process and build in some safety nets. The most obvious is to practice using correct form as often as you can. Aside from this no-brainer, though, how you choose to aim might be the most important.
Points Of Reference
We all have a comfortable anchor point (or we should, anyway), but getting the release head into the corner of your mouth is only a starting point. A lot of bowhunters (myself included) also touch the string to the tip of their nose. This, at the very least, ensures you have two points of reference dialed in.
For most of us, once we're at full draw we do a quick check of the bubble level on our sight. Nearly all modern sights are outfitted with levels, and if you're ignoring yours at the range, you're missing out.
Your bubble level provides more than a just reminder of whether you're canting your bow or not, it's also a subtle reinforcement of proper form. This is important while flinging arrows in the backyard, but it is an absolute necessity when shooting in the field where conditions often force awkward shots.
And then there is your peep sight. If it's served in too high or too low (or happens to creep either way just a hair), your form will suffer. If your peep sight's aperture is too small, you might not be able to aim as well in low light. If it doesn't end up perfectly square to your eye at full draw, you'll have a truncated view of your sight window. A lot hinges on our peep sights performing correctly, even if we don't give them much love.
Peep sights are the unsung heroes of our in-the-field accuracy, and while they've changed a lot over the years size-wise, peep sights haven't deviated much from a functional design standpoint. That is, until now.
A Better Reference
Newcomer to the peep-sight market is Precision Peeps. They've gone ahead and changed the traditional peep design by adding a post in the center of the aperture. What this does for you as a shooter is that it allows you to line up the post directly below the sight pin with which you're aiming.
In other words, once you're at full draw you'll have to line up the post with your pin, which tightens shooting form further and provides a point of reference previously unseen in the world of archery.
I'll be honest here; I didn't think I'd like having to do that. I also thought the post would obscure my sight window too much, but I was wrong. They build these peep sights with a 5/16-inch aperture, which allows for a clear field of view. I look at it like when I'm sitting in a pop-up blind that I've brushed in. I'll hang branches all over the top of the blind and allow them to droop down in front of my shooting ports. From the outside it looks like they'll get in the way, but when I'm inside and at full draw, they don't because they are so close.
Precision peeps function similarly, putting the post right at your eye and giving you the chance to not only see that it is sitting neatly below your chosen pin, but also allowing you to see around it.
Faster Target Acquisition
It took me a few practice sessions to get comfortable with this new aiming style, which is to be expected after a couple of decades of shooting normal peep sights. Now, however, it's natural. And any time I can build in an extra safety catch for proper shooting form, I'll take it.
And as an added bonus, the Precision Peep seems to have shortened my aiming process slightly. I haven't timed it yet, but it feels like it's easier to acquire a target, float the pin, and release. Maybe it's all in my head, but I don't think so.
The whole process just feels more seamless, and I've come to really like it when shooting on sidehills or from treestands — two situations that easily throw bow form out of whack.
I also outfitted my wife's bow with a Precision Peep and explained to her how to aim with it. She took to it immediately, likely because she hasn't shot nearly as much as I have with traditional peep sights. Her experience has me convinced that any newcomer to our sport would shoot better, quicker, with one of these peeps.
If you're looking to increase your in-the-field accuracy game, a Precision Peep might be the ticket. For the price of a couple of Starbuck's lattes, it is definitely worth it to try, especially right now as we gear up for serious summer practice sessions in preparation for the fall season.