How Many Pins Should a Bow Sight Have?

How Many Pins Should a Bow Sight Have?

a bow sight attached to a compound bow

When putting together your compound bow setup, there are several components that help archers improve accuracy and overall performance when target shooting or bowhunting. A bow sight is one component archers add to help them align their shots to the target. When choosing a bow sight, one feature to consider is the number of pins—single, 3-pins, and 5-pins—your bow sight has. With these three options, how do you know how many pins your bow sight should have for your setup? Our Archery Experts share some common guidelines to follow when selecting the best bow sight for your situation. 

When selecting hunting equipment, including bow sights, it really comes down to your unique situation such as where you’re hunting and your skill level. There’s no one-size-fits-all, but with these suggestions, you’ll be better informed on how many pins your bow sight should have. 

Single-Pin Bow Sights

A single-pin bow sight offers archers a clear, unobstructed view of their target, especially when shooting at longer distances. Since readings are only measured in one-yard measurements, using a single-pin bow sight requires plenty of practice to accurately estimate distances. 

When hunting, there are plenty of different situations that come up. Although you’re able to manually adjust the pin to another distance after a missed shot, that takes time and creates noise. So, you’ll want to practice where to aim if your target goes past your set yardage or draws nearer. 

This type of sight can be a great choice for hunters who are confident in their ability to judge yardages, spend time 3D shooting, or hunt at long-range distances.


  • Dial into an exact distance
  • Ultra-clear view of target
  • Ideal for long-range distances


  • Requires practice in guessing yardage

Featured Single-Pin Bow Sight

3-Pin Bow Sights

The 3-pin bow sight is a popular choice among beginners and expert hunters alike because you’ll still get a rather clear field-of-view, but you have three distance ranges sighted in.

With 3-pin sights, you’re able to customize the distances to suit your preferences and hunting situation. Typically, archers choose to sight the pins in at 20, 30, and 40 yards since plenty of game shots happen within these distances or closer. Plus, having the three different distances sighted makes it easier to shoot the gap rather than having to make adjustments and risk the chance of spooking the animal. 


  • Uncluttered field of view
  • Easier to determine the distance to the target
  • Versatile when hunting in the field or 3D target shooting


  • Not ideal for long-range distances compared to the single-pin bow sight

Featured 3-Pin Bow Sight

5-Pin Bow Sights

When people are just learning how to shoot a bow or going on their first bow hunt, a 5-pin bow sight is a great option, and you’ll see some experienced hunters choose this option too.

With a 5-pin bow sight, hunters will have 5 different distances (typically 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards) sighted in. This clutters up your field of view but also takes the guesswork out of distance. For example, if you end up spooking the animal at 20 yards out you can easily follow the target and adjust for a second shot at 50 or 60 yards away. 


  • Give the opportunity for a second shot
  • Most are sighted at 5 distances (20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards)


  • More cluttered field-of-view

Featured 5-Pin Bow Sight

Bow Sight Pin Size

a hunter using a bow sight to aim his compound bow

Aside from the number of pins your bow sight has, you’ll notice there are different pin sizes available. The average bow sight pin size is 0.019”. For those who have trouble focusing, a larger pin sight size such as 0.029” could be a good alternative. A 0.029” pin size will take up a larger portion of your field of view, yet it will help your eyes focus. You’ll also see the 0.010” pin size too. These are ideal for long distances because the pin won’t take up much of the target.

When deciding how many pins your bow sight should have, it ultimately comes down to your individual needs and preferences including your skill level, shooting distance, and hunting situation. Whether you opt for a single-pin sight for precise long-range shots, a 3-pin sight for versatile hunting scenarios, or a 5-pin sight for added options and ease of use, you now know how many pins you should look at for your bow sight. If you have questions about finding the right bow sight, stop by your local SCHEELS to speak with an Archery Expert.