A great many young archers elect to use a pin sight, often because that is what Mom or Dad shoots and they had one to “hand down.” Last time we addressed how to teach your students how to use a sight, focusing first on “target sights.” This time we will focus on pin sights and about the sighting in procedure.
Be aware, though, that some of your students may feel left out in that they do not have a sight to learn from. This isn’t a problem, though, if you acquire ahead of time some foam backed tape and some dress makers pins (see photo). Cut the foam tape into 5-6˝ pieces and stick a pin sideways through the foam (see photo again). For those wanting to try a sight, peel one side off of the foam and press it along the back of the student’s bow’s sight window. The head of the pin should stick out into the sight window (if it doesn’t, take it out and stick it into the other edge!).
This, then, becomes a bow sight with the pin head being the aperture. Moving the pin in and out where it is makes windage adjustment. Pulling the pin out and sticking it back in at another point changes the elevation. (Ta da!)
As with the target sight, pin sights need to be installed. As a first approximation, the pins should form a vertical line (when the bow is held vertically) and that line should be directly behind the bowstring when viewed from behind and the string is lined up on the centerline of the bow.
Learning to Use a Pin Sight
This procedure is almost identical to that for the target sight, so review the previous article for that procedure. It can help to move all but the top pin down and out of the way but if this is a complicated process, skip it.
Shooting with a pin sight can be confusing. Many archers make the mistake of “using the wrong pin” to aim with, so some practice is required to use them well. If the distance being shot corresponds to one of the distances of a pin, you just line up the head of that pin on to the center of the target when at full draw. If the distance is between pins, you have to “interpolate.” If the target is at 25 yards and you have your pins set for 10, 20, 30 yards, for example, you need to line the center of the target with “half way” between the 20 and 30 yard pins. If it is 24 yards, then sight a tiny bit closer to the 20 yard pin from half way. Imaginatiois required (see graphic)!
If you are over the distance your highest pin, you may have to “stack your pins.” For example, if shooting 60 yards with a 50 yard (maximum distance) pin, you set your “stack” of pins so that the 20 yard pin is on the center of the target. Then you look to see where the 40 yard pin is on the target (representing ten yards high), that provides an aiming spot (a point of aim!) to place the 50 yard pin when shooting the 60 yard target. This is called “stacking your pins. Again, imagination . . . and practice are required.
It should be obvious that having pins corresponding to the shortest and longest distances is an advantage, but sometimes this is not possible. Planning out what distances are needed is something to do when “sighting in.”
Sighting In a Pin Sight
The procedure for setting the pins to correspond to distances is exactly the same as for the target sight except that with the target sight the aperture pin is moved to new positions for each distance, where with a pin sight you move each pin to its own location.
Sighting in is simple, but there is a great deal of tinkering involved. The procedure for “sighting in” (assigning sight aperture positions to all (or most) distances to be shot) is:
1. Start up close to the target (10 yards) so you won’t miss. The aperture being set will be high on the sight bar (typically the top pin in the stack set near the top of its enclosure). Using best shooting form, three or more arrows are shot aiming dead center at the target. Obviously, if the first shot misses the target altogether an adjustment is in order!) And if the arrows don’t form a group, it is a “do over.”
2. Make adjustments according to the following scheme:
(all orientations are from the viewpoint of the archer behind the bow)
a. If the group hit high, move the aperture higher.
b. If the group hit low, move the aperture lower.
c. If the group hit left, move the aperture to the left.
d. If the group hit right, move the aperture to the right.
The rule of thumb is: the aperture follows the arrows. (This can be confusing as this is exactly backward from what POA shooting calls for, so be patient.)
3. Repeat for the other distances, adding the next pin below to the stack for each increment of distance.
Be aware it is not necessary to sight in every distance. If you find a sight mark for 30 yards and then one for 20 yards, the sight mark for 25 yards will be very close to (but not exactly) halfway in between. Most people get 4-5 sight marks and then interpolate the rest.
Peep Sights Increase Accuracy Peep sights increase accuracy, not simply because they allow archers to look right through the string! When at full draw, the circular hole in the peep sight is visually aligned with the circular housing of the circular pin guard on a pin sight (if there is one) resulting in consistent alignment of the sight (and hence bow) with the archer’s line of sight. Peep sights are not allowed in all styles, e.g. Olympic style archery does not allow peep sights.
Also see Simple Maintenance for Archery by Ruth Rowe and Alan Anderson for more help.
Some Fine Points
If you look at any stack of pins what you will see is that the top two are closer together than any of the others. Plus the gap between pins 2 and 3 is smaller than between 3 and 4, which is smaller than the gap between pins 4 and 5 (see diagrams). The reason for this is that shot arrows are continuously slowing down (due to aerodynamic drag). The arrow is at its fastest just as it leaves the bow and the farther it goes the slower it goes. So the time it takes to get from 10 to 20 yards/meters is less than from 20 to 30 yards/meters. Since gravity is acting continuously and constantly the arrow falls farther between 20 and 30 than it did between 10 and 20, so the bow must be held a tiny bit higher for the longer shot, and so forth.
The key point, Coach, is if a student’s pin stack doesn’t look like that, there is something wrong. If one of the gaps toward the bottom of the stack is smaller than one above it, there is something wrong. And nothing is more frustrating to a student to be shooting good shots and having them land in the wrong place because their sight setting is wrong.
There is a diagram that can be used to check a pin stacks spacings. Here it is (below). You just hold up the stack to the array of lines and you should be able to find a spot where all of the pin “heads” land on a line. If one of them doesn’t while the others do, then that one is a problem.
If you find yourself having to coach students using pin sights and you have never used one, you are in a bad place. Borrow a sight (or buy an old one on eBay) and set it up on your bow. You will find the experience helpful. If you don’t have time to do that, remember the foam tape and pin?