As a beginner deer hunter back in the day, I made every mistake possible when it came to choosing and using my bow sights. I vividly remember my first hunt, fumbling with my bow as a decent 8-point buck stared at me dumbfoundedly from 30 yards away. With nine pins crowding my sight picture, I could barely make out the deer through them, let alone figure out which pin I was supposed to use. Needless to say, the buck bounded away while I stood there helplessly, realizing just how ill-prepared I was.
After that experience, I knew things needed to change. Through trial and error over countless hunts and practice sessions, I eventually settled on using a simple, single pin adjustable sight. For whitetail hunting, there’s nothing better in my opinion. It offers a clear sight picture for quick shooting in high pressure situations. No more staring down a confused mess of pins and brackets!
In this guide, I’ll walk through everything you need to know about using a one pin bow sight for deer hunting. We’ll cover how to set it up, tips for accuracy at different ranges, and how to master those close shots when you only have a few seconds to react. I’ll also share the common mistakes to avoid, as well as some of my own hard-earned lessons from 20+ years of bowhunting whitetails. Let’s get started!
- For most whitetail hunting scenarios, a one pin sight offers the simplicity and accuracy you need without unnecessary complexity.
- Set your pin for your “sweet spot” yardage, usually 20 yards, to handle most shots within 30 yards.
- Practice determining holdover/under adjustments for shots just outside your sweet spot range. Understanding trajectory is key.
- Use a rangefinder so you know exact distances and can dial your pin precisely. Estimating is risky.
- When hunting from a treestand, practice shooting from elevated positions and account for steep shot angles.
While a multi-pin sight seems like it would be more versatile, most bowhunting shots at whitetails occur within 30 yards. So a single pin designed for that range is perfect for most scenarios. But keep these factors in mind when choosing your one pin sight:
Adjustment range – Make sure the sight can adjust out to at least 30-40 yards. Some can go out to 60-80 yards for longer range shots.
Pin size – .019″ pins are a good balance of visibility and precision. Go with .010″ pins if you really want a thin pin for maximum precision.
Aperture size – The housing opening around the pin should be at least 4″ in diameter. This gives you some room for error while aiming.
Sight light – Having a light on the pin itself or sight housing improves visibility in low light conditions right before dusk and dawn.
Micro-adjustment – Choose a sight with adjustment increments of 1/4″ or less so you can really dial it in precisely.
Durability – Ensure the sight is made of quality, lightweight metals and plastics that can withstand hunting conditions. Waterproof construction is a must.
I’d recommend starting with a simple 3-pin fixed sight with one pin set for 20, another for 30, and a third for 40+ yards. This covers you for most typical shot scenarios. As you gain experience and confidence, you may opt for a single pin adjustable sight for ultimate simplicity.
Here are two of my favorite one pin sights currently on the market:
- Trophy Ridge React One
- Spot Hogg Hunter Hogg-It
Both offer excellent build quality, adjustment range, and sighting features perfect for whitetail hunting. Shop around and find the one pin sight that fits your needs and budget. Spending that extra bit for quality optics and construction is worth it in my experience.
Installing a new bow sight is pretty straightforward, but follow these steps to get it set up properly:
- Attach the sight to your bow’s riser according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring the mounting bracket is secured tightly.
- Position the sight so the housing balances comfortably for you when you draw the bow, and allows comfortable viewing when you’re at full draw. Having it slightly right of center is common.
- With the bow unstrung, check that the pin and housing aren’t contacting the cables or arrow rest. Adjust positioning as needed.
- Once the sight is installed in the optimal position, use Loctite on the mounting screws to prevent loosening from vibration.
- Insert your sight light or fiber optic pin into the housing if it’s removable. Make sure it’s seated securely.
That’s it for installation—pretty quick and easy. Now let’s walk through the process of sighting it in.
Sighting in your bow accurately is absolutely crucial for success in archery and bowhunting. Follow this procedure to get your one pin sight dialed in:
For most whitetail hunting scenarios, you can pick a “sweet spot” distance that your pin will be optimized for. This single yardage covers you for most of your shots.
For whitetails, 20 yards is ideal. It’s usable for shots from 15 out to 25 yards without needing to adjust your aim. You definitely want your pin optimized for 20 if you’re hunting from a treestand or blind where most shots are close range.
If you hunt more open terrain and expect longer range shots, you may opt to set your pin for 30 yards instead. But keep reading for how to handle those farther shots with a 20 yard zero.
Now it’s time to actually sight in your bow using your sweet spot yardage:
- Set up a target at the 20 yard line (or whatever you chose as your sweet spot zero).
- Dial your movable pin to 20 yards using the sight’s adjustment knob.
- Fire a carefully aimed shot at the bullseye.
- Check where the arrow hit on the target face. It most likely won’t be dead center.
- Adjust your windage and elevation knobs to bring the pin right on target.
- Fire another arrow and fine tune as needed until you are drilling the bullseye.
Once you can stack arrows consistently inside the bull at your sweet spot distance, your sight is ready for hunting. Just remember to re-confirm zero before every hunt!
With your pin now zeroed for 20 yards, how do you account for shots that are slightly farther or closer? There are two ways: holdover/under adjustments, and dialing your adjustable pin.
For shots just 5 yards inside or outside your 20 yard sweet spot, you can simply aim slightly high or low to compensate. Here’s how:
- Set up targets at 15, 20, and 25 yards.
- Fire arrows at each distance, aiming dead center.
- Make notes of exactly how much LOW your arrows hit at 15 yards, and how much HIGH they hit at 25 yards. For example “2.5 inches low at 15 yards”.
Now you have your holdover/under amount to adjust your aim accordingly! For a shot at 18 yards, you know to hold 1.5 inches low for example.
It takes practice, but learning your bow’s trajectory and calculating holdover/under adjustments will make you extremely deadly inside 30 yards.
The other option is to simply dial your adjustable pin to the yardage you’ll be shooting.
For example, if you’re in a situation where you know the distance is exactly 28 yards, dial your pin down to 28 yards using the adjustment knob. Just remember to double check it’s back to 20 yards after you take the shot!
This is also where a good rangefinder comes in handy. If you know the exact distance, dialing in your pin specifically for that distance will of course be more precise than estimating holdover/under.
Hunting whitetails from an elevated treestand brings its own set of factors to consider when shooting with a one pin sight:
- Practice shooting from different heights/angles to get comfortable with it. It will feel different at first.
- Leaning forward in the stand can help get you closer to your natural shooting form.
- Remember that your arrow’s trajectory will be much steeper shooting downwards. Keep this in mind for holdover/under on close shots.
- Use an angle compensating rangefinder so you get the true horizontal distance when ranging your shot. This allows better pin adjustment.
- When possible, position yourself so shooting lanes are as horizontal as possible. Avoid extremely steep shot angles.
With practice from actual treestand heights and angles, you’ll learn to adjust your position and aim to account for those elevated shots. Spending time on this before the season is critical.
Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of your one pin sight in the deer woods:
- Practice regularly from field positions and various ranges out to 40 yards. Unknown distance practice will build instinct.
- Use a rangefinder and know the exact distance whenever possible. Don’t risk guessing.
- Pick a pin size that maximizes visibility while minimizing obstruction of the target. I prefer .019″ pins personally.
- Visualize your shot sequence during your practice sessions. Focus on smooth execution from draw to follow through.
- Stick to broadside or quartering away shots for the highest margin of error. Avoid risky frontal or rear shots.
- Aim low on more distant shots. A gut hit will likely be fatal, whereas a high miss means a lost opportunity.
- Stay ready. deer can appear unexpectedly, so keep your bow ready and stay focused. Reaction time is critical.
Follow this advice and you’ll be drilling the vitals of whitetails in no time with your one pin sight!
Issues do occasionally crop up with bow sights. Here’s how to diagnose and fix a few common problems:
Inconsistent accuracy: Double check that all screws are tight and use Loctite to prevent loosening. Reconfirm your 20 yard zero. Clean lenses and check for damage.
Pin drift: Adjust the windage and elevation lock screws. If that fails, the pin guard may need to be shimmed for a tighter fit.
Hard to see pins: Replace the sight light or fiber optic pin if they seem dim. Choose a larger aperture size if the housing is too obstructing.
Pins won’t adjust: Don’t force anything! Remove the sight and ensure nothing is obstructed. Contact the manufacturer if needed.
Sight housing rattles: Tighten all locking and mounting screws. Check that the mounting bracket is aligned and stable.
With some focused troubleshooting and maintenance, you can keep your sight performing flawlessly for seasons to come. Don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer if an issue persists.
While not strictly necessary, there are some useful accessories that can enhance your one pin sight:
- Sight level – Ensures your bow isn’t tilted when aiming and shooting. Attaches to sight housing.
- Sight light – Illuminates pin for lowlight shooting. Try fiber optics or LED.
- Aperture kits – Allow switching aperture size as needed for conditions and preference.
- Lens kit – Flip-up design makes it easy to switch pin visibility for varying light.
- Draw check – Detects and indicates any accidental change in draw length.
Investigate options and find out which accessories might be worthwhile additions to fine tune your setup.
A properly set up one pin adjustable sight is deadly effective and provides the quick accuracy needed for bowhunting whitetails and other big game. Simplify your sight picture and concentrate on smooth execution. Be diligent about practicing from realistic hunting scenarios. Master your equipment and develop confidence in your shot at known and unknown distances.
I hope this guide has provided you a great starting point for getting the most out of a one pin bow sight. The lessons I’ve shared here represent decades of experience and constant learning. I welcome your feedback and additional tips! Share your own hard-earned bowhunting wisdom.
Now get out there, fine tune your new one pin sight, fling some arrows, and as always, enjoy the hunt! You’ll be tagging your buck in no time. Good luck!
Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website CaptainHunter.com. When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.