The introduction of fiber optic pins elevated bow hunting to another level with easier to see bright pins expanding the hunting day to include early morning and late evening.
It also opened up a whole new range of choices to make.
What size pin should you use?
Should you use bow sights set up only with a single pin diameter size, such as the .019” diameter?
Or should you consider mixing and matching based on the shooting distances of each pin?
It’s a question that probably doesn’t enter the consciousness until you’ve tried a sight set up with pin sizes other than the ones you’ve always used.
Factors to consider include the light gathering ability of the larger pin diameter and the narrowing of the focus enabled by the small.
Choosing One Pin Size Over the Other
The vast majority of hunters prefer the .019” pin diameter over .010”. This is largely due to the greater pin brightness it presents.
While target hunters like to use the smallest, most precise dot possible, this is not as crucial for the average hunter.
Similarly, the standard bow sight setup consists of the same sized pins across a fixed pin array.
The difference tends to lie in the color arrangement that is preferred and whether to choose green - yellow - red, green - green - yellow - red - red or some other combination.
The way the sight’s pins are presented and their size is going to be a matter of personal preference.
It will also depend on how clear your vision is, too.
Potential Fixed Pin Configurations
Although the most common pin setup of a fixed pin sight is to use the same sized pins, there is an alternative option open to you. And that is to customize the pin sizes to your own specifications.
A popular way to set up multi-pin fixed pin sights is to use larger pins such as a .029” diameter pin for close range shots.
This translates to .019” diameter pins for medium range shots, 25-40 yards and then .010” diameter pins for longer range shots.
On a 5-pin sight you might be set up as:
Pin 1 - .029”
Pin 2 - .019”
Pin 3 - .019”
Pin 4 - .010”
Pin 5 - .010”
For a 3-pin bow sight you would simply remove the 2nd and 4th pins to be left with one of each diameter.
Pin 1 - .029”
Pin 2 - .019”
Pin 3 - .010”
The thinking is that for the longer range shots a larger diameter pin will obscure too much of the target, hence the smaller pin diameter.
For even greater flexibility, there is the 3 pin hybrid sight option where the configuration consists of two fixed .019” pins and the adjustable floater pin at .010”.
The reasoning is that the floater is going to deal with a variety of distances, potentially longer than your fixed distances.
The smaller diameter pin gives you the chance to dial into a very narrow focus.
Oh, by the way, we’ve completely ignored the various color choice configurations you might go for. That’s definitely a debate for another time.
Pin Diameter Will Affect Pin Brightness
The larger the pin diameter, the brighter the pin.
This makes sense because a larger diameter fiber optic will gather more light and present a larger dot than a smaller one.
For a lot of people, the important factor when it comes to their pins, is the brightness adding to clarity and the ability to place the dot squarely on the target.
But brighter pins are not always better.
In some light conditions, such as fading daylight, bright pins are simply too bright and make it difficult to actually see past them to the target.
The larger pins can totally dominate our vision so that we’re simply guessing where we’re aiming beyond that.
Rather than trimming the fiber optics to reduce the brightness, the answer might be to drop back from a .019” pin to a .010” pin.
Pin Sizes and Poor Vision
Your eyesight is going to play an important role in the pin size you should be using.
If you’re currently looking at your pins and they are flaring in your vision or they are blurry in any way, you should probably consider swapping them out for a different size.
It’s not uncommon as we get older, speaking from experience, that our vision starts to diminish and for many people this rules out the .010 pins.
This is often the case even if you’re wearing your glasses.
So, it would seem that the pins to go for if your vision is starting to diminish are the .019” pins or even .029”.
At the other end of the scale there have been quite few reports of people experiencing a halo or starburst effect around the larger pins.
Not only is this distracting, it can also start to hurt the eyes if looking at the pins for any length of time.
We discuss further what to do with your bow sight if you suffer from poor vision.
The thing is, in most cases, you don’t have to stick with the pin sizes you originally bought your sight with.
Companies such as Spot Hogg will customize your bow sight based on your specifications giving you the pin configuration you want straight out of the box.
Replacement pins are readily available from the major bow sight companies and replacing them is a relatively simple task.
Not only that, replacement pins are cheap.
Even if you’re simply curious as to whether using smaller or larger pins will make a difference - what’s the harm in getting them, installing them and taking them out onto your practice range to try them out?