Apertures: Pin or No Pin?

I got a question from Carole, who asked: “What are your thoughts on using a sight with a pin in the center (recurve sight) compared to one without a pin, just a tunnel? I have read that the human brain is excellent at centering a circle and wondered if it would be more ‘natural’ to allow the brain to center the sight on the gold and therefore more relaxed on the eye?  I have used both and (think) I prefer without the pin, but am interested in your opinion.”

* * *

Okay, here’s my opinion. I think the jury is still out on this one, so I would call it a matter of personal preference at this point. By all means, do try both types, noting how each affects your sighting (mentally as well as physically).

The same question comes up on the compound side in the form of having a central pin (usually fiber optic) or just an applied ring on one’s scope lens. (There are commercial sets of decals for application to the scope surface with various thickness and colors of loops.)

The orange ring is to make the scope housing more visible (it is centered in the peep hole to collimate the aim). My preference is for a thicker loop a bit larger than the decal shown here and bright green in color (see text).

My thinking at this point (remember this is premature as we have almost no real information on this topic, just opinions) is it depends on the kind of person you are. Using me as an example: I am a bit easily distracted, a bit shaky, and a bit nervous. I find the loops preferable for the following reasons: a small pin looks more jittery than a larger loop, which leads me to press to try to be more steady, which makes my steadiness worse, not better. One must relax into a clam state of steadiness, not “try.”

I use a bright green, thick, fairly large loop decal on my compound scopes. Green is not a color that shows up on target faces much so a good deal of contrast is there. The thicker loop makes it easier to see, the larger loop avoids a problem with small loops, namely that as target sizes change with distance, if you have a small loop, you can be floating around in the middle not knowing where you are. Take a Metric of American 900 Round. At 30 yards/meters, a small loop may only show you gold on the 122 cm multi-color target. So, where in the gold are you? Do you look for the dividing line between the 10-and 9-rings? Do you move around, looking for the edge? Similarly, if the entire gold, or center spot whatever the color, barely fits inside the loop, there is a tendency to try to fit it exactly which leads to over focusing on aiming too precise to sustain.

A large loop allows several rings or a smaller central spot to float in the middle of the loop using the brain’s automatic centering function to your benefit. (This function is hardwired into our brains. It is used for distance estimation and other functions and it is normal for most all people.)

Here’s a scope with a fiber optic dot in the middle.

On the recurve size, I prefer a larger loop than the commercially available ones that seem a bit small to me. (They are easy enough to make and I also paint the front edge bright green.)

So, when you try these options, in the back of your mind (that’s a metaphor, not literal suggestion) keep track of whether your aperture helps you to feel calm. In my case, the thick green ring helps me locate the loop in my visual field easily, in all lighting conditions, shows little perceived motion when aiming which provides a perception of steadiness, which then leads to relaxing a somewhat jumpy archer. If you, on the other hand, are rock steady, mentally calm person, you may find a pin easiest to line up with your point of aim.

The famous Beiter Sight Tunnel offers a square housing (to supply visual cues as to whether the recurve bow is being held vertically, and a plethora of “pins” inside the housing … or you can just use no insert for a circular opening.

It doesn’t hurt to try a number of variations to see what works best for you. Pin, no pin. Small loop, big loop. Different colors of loops. This doesn’t all have to happen at once (unless you are hyper-competitive), but over time, these are things to “give a try” at.

PS This is also wrapped up in another discussion: should you be looking at the bow sights aperture or the target. Both will not be in focus at the same time. That question is for another time.

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2 Comments

Filed under For All Coaches, Q & A

2 responses to “Apertures: Pin or No Pin?

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    In addition, the sizing of the “loop” is also dependent upon the length of your sight extension. Some people like to see a hint of “gold” around the inside (or outside) of the loop; others want to center up on the RED at the inside or outside of the “loop.”
    I have made custom loops from my scope for years. I use red Bumper reflective tape, and have never had a situation where I couldn’t see the loop (hole) or even the “dot” (when using a dot) in my scope.
    I used drill bits and grind down the back end of them to a flat surface. I then place the reflective tape on softer wood (such as ash) and place the flattened edge of the drill bit onto the tape, reflective side up, and hit it softly with a mallet, just barely cutting through the tape, but not through the sticky backing. I run these across the tape, and then for the next row go 1/64″ smaller, a new row 1/64″ smaller than row 2 and so forth.
    I also do this with “circles” too, but they are a bit tougher to do, but same principle applies.
    Then I go out and shoot to find the hole size or dot size that works best for ME and how I’m reacting to the natural sight movement at the time. Some years, I’ve been able to stick with the same dot or hole size, and some years they are larger, some years smaller. But I’ve always found what works best for me, and very, very few times has a sizing from a purchased set of dots or circles worked as well as the “custom home-made dots or circles).
    This is discussed in my book, “ProActive Archery” (Chapter 47) and also was the subject of an article published some years back in “Archery Focus Magazine.” “Making your Own Custom Dots & Circles”.

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