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Rob DiStefano:
(article submitted by TG member J. Robinson)

Each year I have a number of fellows write and ask about my methods of hunting with a bow sight. I can never write in a letter the full information that I should give. I wrote an article on hunting with a sight for the N.F.A.A Official Bow Hunting Manual back in 1962 (second edition). I think now is the opportune time to place this article in my catalog. It will answer many questions and save myself considerable letter writing. Below is the slightly condensed article. ~ JH


Some 20 years back I laid away my high powered rifle and scope. The keen thrill I once knew with my rifle was beginning to fade. I had archery fever now and was anxiously looking forward to hunting with bow and arrow. The first deer fell to my gun when I was but 10 years old. As I grew older, my desire for bigger deer also grew; right up to the kind of ol’moss back that carries a massive 40” spread.

My first  archery  hunt began with the enthusiasm of a lion and ended like a lamb. I can look back and remember one great old trophy buck who stood quietly unconcerned while I actually emptied my quiver at him. I complained bitterly to my friend about all the close shots I’d taken which hit nothing but air. Old Mac just smiled and explained that I expected too much, and that eventually after shooting enough arrows, the law of averages would catch up and I would nail myself a buck.

I didn’t see it that way! There just were not that may trophy bucks roaming around the woods and a trophy class deer was what I wanted. I was ready to throw in the sponge and start oiling up the trusty rifle when I stopped my car in front of the local archery range and noticed an archer casually shooting all of his arrows in the center of the target, and at a distance greater than most of my deer shots! I was amazed, if I could only shoot like that, all my troubles would be over. I sauntered over to find out his secret of success. His secret was nothing but a match stick taped to the back of his bow! He was simply using the head of it to sight with.

To make a long story short, this was for me. I soon worked out the 4 sight system that I have been using ever since and with which I have taken 42 bucks to date. I will be glad to explain the details of how my sighting system works with the hope it will help some of you as much as it has myself.

First, not every archer can adapt to a sight. It’s difficult to explain why! Perhaps it has something to do with the mental make-up of the individual. The only way to tell if a bow sight will work for you is to actually give one a fair try over a long enough period of time to become used to it. For those who can adapt to a sight, the results can be very rewarding.

The big advantage of a sight of course is its dependable accuracy. The bow sight in itself is as accurate as the sight on a rifle, the only variable is the man behind it. I made up my first sight from parts of other commercial models. The mounting bar is firmly mounted to the back of bow with two screws. I have fours separate sights which are each individually sighted in for specific distances and are never moved in the field. The sights are painted black and white to show up well under poor lighting conditions. The round dot being painted white and the shank black.

The sight should always be set at exact measured distances. This way, no matter what weight bow you wish to change to, 30 pounds or 70 pounds, your sighting estimation will always be the same. This brings to mind another big advantage of a sight, whenever you change to another bow you won’t have to go thru months of learning how your new bow shoots, just set your sights and you are ready for the hunt. When you set your sights, if you do not have a calibrated target range, use a tape measure. As you mark off the distances it would be wise to pound small wooded stakes in the ground for future reference. Your sights should be checked every month or so as your shooting form may change enough to require adjustments. The important thing about learning to judge distance with a sight is to be sure your sight is always set at exact measured distances. Never reset your sights in the field. If doubtful about your sight setting, reset them only at measured distances.

It is strongly recommended that you use only 4 sights set at exactly 20, 40, 50, 60 yards. Over the years I’ve tried a number of combinations, but this combination will give you the best results and eliminate confusion of which sight to use. Why have I eliminated a sight for 30 yards? To prevent confusion, this way the 20 yard sight stands alone while other three form a group. Normally at these farther distances of 40 yards and over you have plenty of time to make sure you are using the right one, but at the closer distances the action can come in a hurry and you have only one sight in front of you which obviously stands out by itself. The major mistake most archers make who try this system is to begin adding more sights.

The key to successful use of a bow sight in the field is to accurately judge distance. This will come through practice. Plunking at pine cones or clumps of  grass in the woods is about the best practice for learning to accurately judge distance. Start with short shots at only 20 or 30 yards until you get fairly good at judging and then work out to the longer distances.

 The bow sight is not a “cure-all” and will not make a good archer out of a person that does not have good shooting technique. To be successful hunting with a bow sight, the archer must develop his shooting technique so every shot is deliberately made, holding in the same manner each time. The archer must learn to control the bow and be sure the sight is exactly where he wants it when he shoots.

When hunting with a sight, carry your bow in the usual fashion. Should the game jump and run at close range, a shot can be taken by a hunter using a sight. Actually the percentage of hits on running game is exceptionally low compared with the deliberate shooting at standing game. At least 90% of my shots are at standing game where I have ample opportunity to take all the time I want before shooting. The biggest error most bow hunters make is shooting too fast. By getting in a hurry, they fail to shoot well, often even forgetting to aim.

For those that wish to use a sight and still shoot with a canted bow, this can also be done. The sights must be of different lengths so that when your bow is canted in the position you wish to shoot, the sight beads form a vertical line. Below is a chart where I hold on the deer at different distances. It makes no difference kneeling or standing and very little difference shooting up or down hill.

At 20 yards I hold the 20 yard sight right on the deer
At 25 yards I hold the 20 yard sight at the top of the deer’s back
At 30 yds I bracket the deer between the 20 and 40 yard sight
At 35 yds I hold the 40 yard sight at the bottom of the deer’s chest
At 40 yds I hold the 40 yard sight right on the deer
At 45 yds I bracket the deer between the 40 and 50 yard sight
At 50 yds I hold the 50 Yard sight right on the deer
At 55 yds I bracket the deer between the 50 and 60 yard sight
At 60 yds I hold the 60 yard sight right on the deer
At 65 yds I hold the 60 yard sight 6” above the deer’s back
On shots over 65 yards I use the sights for alignment and use the tip of my arrow to sight with

When shooting at targets on a field range you can use the same sighting system as shooting at deer, just substitute the top or bottom of the three rings for the top or bottom of deer. Many field score in the 900’s are shot using this method.
I hope this sighting system will help some of you to increase your hunting accuracy. This method has given me the confidence of continue trophy hunting with a bow as I use to with my rifle. But whether we hunt with or without a bow sight, I’m sure we will all agree, hunting with a bow and arrow is a wonderful and exciting challenge.


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