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Theresa Moore, Author

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Bow Sights and Shooting in Low Light


It’s a common theme in bow-hunting whitetails; the shot taken in poor light.

Understand, I’m not advocat­ing shooting outside legal shooting hours, as that’s breaking the law, pure and simple. Every state has estab­lished shooting hours — often sunrise to half-hour after sunset — but that doesn’t mean shooting conditions are guaranteed to be ideal because a clock says so. I hunt a lot of Northern big- woods whitetails in heavy forest. It can get pretty gloomy under those big cedars and firs even during the aver­age midday hour. Toss in an overcast sky of woolly clouds and Hying snow, and things are quickly rendered more challenging. Also, aging eyes make “shooting light” a subjective matter during any hour.

Still, in most of the whitetail terri­tory most of us have available (read: outside the Midwest holy grounds, in areas where hunting pressures more intense) the biggest bucks typi­cally move best at the edges of day.

As long as I’ve been seriously pursu­ing whitetails, bowhunters have been devising schemes for beating the low- light conundrum. Not so long ago, bowhunters painted solid pins with bright Horescent or glow-in-the dark pigments. These were marginally successful. But then TruGlo brought us fiber-optic sights, and bowhunting would never be the same.

Fiber-optic strands have the abil­ity to gather ambient light and route it through its length, concentrating that light at each tip. The more mate­rial involved, the more light gathered (a point of diminishing return is reached at about 2 to 3 feet). This is why today’s best bowhunting sights — from companies such as TruGlo, Spot- Hogg, Copper John and Montana Black Gold, for example — include aper­ture-wrapped, spooled or extended fibers. If you aren’t taking advantage of these super-bright fiber-optic sight designs, you’re intentionally handi­capping yourself in low light.

Of course, you might also take advantage of battery-powered/ lighted options, today’s best includ­ing enclosed chambers where LED light is contained and routed directly into the fiber-optics to light them up in the darkest settings, without blind­ing bleed-over. Success while using such sights will render your trophy ineligible for Pope & Young entry (the club would prefer we all bowhunt with traditional bows if they didn’t need compound shooters’ money). And many states, such as my home state of Idaho and all its direct neigh­bors, don’t allow their use. P&Y-legal options include luminescent tape laid beneath overwrapped fibers (TruGlo and Vital Gear) and tritium-backed fibers (TruGlo TFO and Trijicon AccuPin). Tritium is a radioactive but safe isotope producing a soft glow easily seen in the dark.

So that fixes our pin problem but doesn’t complete the entire picture.

The next step in realizing maxi­mum low-light shooting efficiency is adopting a larger peep — and a change in aiming method. When I say a larger peep, I’m talking about something with inside aperture dimensions from !4 to Vi6 inch, such as Jim Fletcher Archery’s Max Hunter (1/4 inch), G5 Outdoors Meta or Titanium Large Hunter (V* inch) and Magnum Hunter (Vi6 inch), as examples. Put simply, a larger peep — like a larger window — allows more light through.

Now, these larger peeps won’t allow you to encircle individual pins with any degree of precision like you might have done in the past. To maintain precise alignment, you must adopt a new sighting system. This means instead encircling the round pin guard and/or bright peep-alignment ring on today’s best sights inside of the peep aperture. This requires very little thought, as the human eye is natu­rally inclined to center objects inside circles. In time, you’ll find alignment occurs nearly subconsciously. What this provides is extremely precise peep-to-sight alignment, making it easier to detect torque while at full draw and making target acquisition much faster — all while providing maximum light-gathering abilities.
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