Between single pin and multi-pin bow sights, bowhunters typically favor one type for different reasons. Some feel more comfortable with a single pin sight, while others love multi-pin variants’ flexibility, especially in real-world applications. Which one is better overall?
Single pin bow sights, also known as sliding pin sights, are incredibly accurate and a good option for brand new bowhunters. Multi-pin bow sights boast 3-9 pins in the sight housing, are better for moving targets, and make stealth shots far easier to get off.
The rest of this article will take a closer look at both of them under various essential talking points to help you understand what you are missing (or avoiding) if you choose one type over the other.
Single Pin vs Multi-Pin Bow Sight: Technology
Single Pin Sight
Single pin comes with a single movable pin, which is why they are also known as adjustable or sliding pin sights. The vertical or horizontal pin combines with a bubble level in the sight housing without any other additions.
These sights work with a simple track slider to ensure there’s no guesswork with every shot you take. You can also adjust the pin to reflect your preferred yardage.
Related reading: What Do the Pins Mean on a Bow Sight
Multi-Pin Bow Sight
These sights come with sets of 3-9 pins in the sight housing and are designed for use over fixed distances. Hunters typically set the pins to represent 5 to 10-yard (4.57 to 9.14-meter) increments.
With the range of each pin set, you won’t need to spend time making any physical adjustments while out on the field. This convenience is one of the reasons why it’s a favorite among hunters.
Comparison of Accuracy
You can fire off some accurate shots when hunting or during competitions with multi-pin sights – especially if the pins are in the best positions and you’ve had a lot of practice.
However, any non-static target (like the animals you’re hunting) won’t always position within the yardage configurations of your multi-pin sight. This means you have to take gapping shots from time to time, leading to a lot of guesswork.
Single pin is often more superior in situations when accuracy is important. You can use a sight tape to set the sight for a specific distance to give you a lot more precision in your shots.
By avoiding guesswork with your aiming, you can improve your chances of hitting the target cleanly.
Use on Moving Targets
Single pin allows you to make precise distance adjustments while out on the field. However, you have to readjust the pin with every shot. If your target moves after you come to full draw then you have to take a guess; this is a big drawback of using a single pin setup.
You may need multiple readjustments with a moving target if your target moves just after a full draw. This is a slow process, and there’s a high possibility of the target spotting your full draw and readjustment movements.
On the other hand, multi-pins don’t have this problem. That’s because you already have a pin set to the target’s distance or close enough to allow gapping.
When a target moves, you only have to choose the best possible pin or a particular gap point for your shot. This way, you are sure to get shots off faster.
Making Close Range Quick Decision
Single pin is great for accuracy and cutting out the guesswork when your target is at a distance.
However, if the target suddenly charges towards you, you have to readjust your sight again to get an accurate shot off, which is a disadvantage for these situations.
Some shooters navigate this problem with some tricks, such as knowing how to set a sight pin quickly for a fixed position or using the Trick Pin approach.
However, you can’t practice any of these if you don’t have an idea of arrow trajectory in such close scenarios. You’ll also need a lot of practice to pull off the skill consistently.
With a multi-pin sight, you can make faster close-range decisions by choosing the right pin for the situation without the need for adjustments.
The shot will still involve some degree of guesswork, but it will almost always yield better results in the same conditions.
Stealth Shots Differences
A running theme here is that single pin requires a lot more movement than a fixed pin sight, which is the main feature of their design.
You can get off shots with very little movement, but many variables have to come together to make that happen – including having near-perfect shooting skills.
So, in many cases, you can’t get off stealth or covert shots without getting noticed by your target.
Multi-pin sights are the perfect tool for stealth shots. They are designed to work with very limited movement – as long as you don’t make a lot of unnecessary sight pin movement.
If you still don’t know how to be decisive, you won’t land many shots (if any) while out hunting, especially when chasing very sensitive games (and most of them are!).
Which Pin Sight is the Best for Newbies
Many experts will have a subjective opinion on this, but a single pin is usually easier for new bowhunters. With these, there’s no guesswork required on pin gap. It’s the perfect tool for introducing newbies to bow shooting.
As a beginner with a single pin sight, you won’t have to worry about choosing the right pin and calculating your hold while out in the field. You can think faster instead of worsening the pressure on yourself.
Multi-pin sights add to the pressure as you have to tick quite a few boxes before you can get a decent shot off. The simplistic design of these sights is why they are a popular option for most people. Too many pins in there not only cover up the sight picture but also creates doubts for the beginners.
Most people love the idea of just aiming with the pin and shooting without any special adjustments.
However, when you combine pin gapping, choosing the right pin, and the pressure that comes with trying to land a real-life shot, it could all be a little too much for a beginner.
Single pin sights are clutter-free, so they are the clear winner when shooting with a clear field of view. People with vision impairments are likely to enjoy bow shooting better with one of these. One huge advantage of it is an uncluttered sight picture that doesn’t obstruct your target.
The design of multi-pin sights is such that there’s a lot going on within your field of view; up to a third of the view or more will be obstructed if you’re using one of these. The stacked pins also increase the chances of picking the wrong pin for a shot.
Therefore, you’ll need to spend some time training your eye to focus on the right pin for the job, in addition to the checklist of decisions you have to make to get the shot off.
Single Pin or Multi-Pin Bow Sight Which Should You Choose?
From our comparison above, you can see that both types of bow sights have their strong suits. It’s hard to recommend a specific option without an understanding of your particular needs.
When to Choose Single Pin Sights
If you’re a beginner in bow shooting, you’ll most likely benefit from going with a single pin sight.
You may also prefer to stick with single pin for their simplicity – especially if you’ve learned how to get off shots faster to reduce the number of readjustments.
When to Choose Multi-Pin Sights
Multi-pin sights give you the highest level of flexibility with your shots. You can use them for moving targets, close-range shots, long-distance stealth shots, etc. However, using one of these comes with a fairly steep learning curve.
The Case for Both
As your accuracy and overall experience increase, you can add a multi-pin sight to become a more-rounded archer. Knowing how to use both of them is a good idea because some shooting activities will require you to use one bow sight over the other.
In some competitions, only single pin sights are allowed. When multi-pin sights are allowed, the limit is often three pins. So, instead of looking at single pin and multi-pin sights from an either/or situation, think of them as a must-have for expert bowhunters.
What Are Hybrid Bow Sights?
Hybrid bow sights are special designs that incorporate the technology on single pin and multi-pin sights. Some good examples of these are the IQ Bowsights Pro Hunter RH and the Trophy Ridge React Trio Pro.
These come with fixed pins for close-range or static shots and an adjustable “floater” pin that comes in handy in terms of accuracy when firing off longer-range shots. They are not yet very popular, but have largely positive reviews.
Are Single Pin Sights Good for Hunting?
This depends on your skill level as a hunter. Some hunters have no problems using only single-pin sights for hunting all kinds of games, including birds. If you are adept at using single pin sights, you’re likely to always find success with it when you’re out hunting.
Final Thoughts: Single Pin vs Multi-pin Bow Sight
To choose between single pin sights and multi-pin options, you need to first look at your unique situation and pick the option that best addresses your needs.
Multi-pin sights look like the more rounded option to go with, but unless you’re a hobbyist archer, single-pin sights can also prove very useful out in the field.
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