Bow Sight Brightness

Many times you will need to be able to see in very low light in order to make a successful shot at a deer.  In these cases every extra minute of time that you get at dawn and dusk is worth some money.  The differences in the quality of optics (binoculars, riflescopes, etc) isn’t always obvious during the day, but better optics give you more minutes of shooting light.

With optics going up in quality (and therefore brightness) is almost as easy as going up in price.

Bow sights aren’t that easy to judge for quality (and brightness).  Almost every new bow sight today is of sufficient quality to do things like target shoot and hunt throughout the light hours of the day.  And if deer always came out during the day, then any ol’ sight would be fine.  But since we know that dawn and dusk are a deer’s most active times of the day, then every extra minute of light that you get is invaluable.   Otherwise you’ll be missing out on deer that you could’ve gotten.

There are two ways to get more brightness in modern bow sights: more fiber optics or artificial light.

The artificial light comes from a small battery and a small light illuminating the sight pins.  The cheaper options are just a small light stuck on the side of the sight.  (Twist to turn on/off.)  These light up the whole inside of the sight ring and are therefore less than ideal.


The cleverer lighted sights place the light so that they only illuminate the ends of the fiber optic pins.  You can get these for as little as $50.  (The light is behind the bottom lump on the sight pictured below.)

outlaw sight

Those lighted sights are much better than the slightly cheaper versions, but lighted sights still have problems keeping them less than ideal.

The first problem is that you need to turn them on.  As in, “wait a minute deer.  Give me a second to turn my sight on.  Okay, time in.”  This can be somewhat avoided by turning your sight on whenever you become aware of any deer and turn it off when you know you don’t want to shoot it.  (Or just leave it on and burn through batteries.)

The more important problem with illuminated sights is that they can be too bright and cover everything past them.  The haze around too bright of a glow can mean that you cannot see past the sight.

Better than having an artificial light is having lots of fiberoptic cable all over the sight.  Sights that merely have an inch or three of fiber optics will not gather as much light as a sight that has its fiber optics wrapped around it somewhere.

The sight I use is from Toxonics, which may or may not still be in business.  (Their website still works though.)


My sight is in black; only idiots pay more to get things in camo when it is not necessary.  Or maybe turkey hunters need all the camo they can get?

I can tell that there are a few places where my sight’s fiber optics are broken, with age.  Where they are broken means I’m not losing much brightness, but I am losing everything past the breaks.

So more fiber optics is best and you may need to replace them in a few years as it ages.

One thing to look out for in sights is to avoid the sights that have lots of fiber optics but for some unfathomable reason encase them in clear tubes.  Those tubes reduce the amount of light that gets to the sight and leaves it dimmer than it would be without the tubes.

spot hogg

So I’m now researching mainly Trophy Ridge bow sights.  I may go with a 5 pin version this time, for maybe 70 yard shooting, but only if the top pin is as bright as possible.  I may also consider the Trophy Ridge Alpha 1 with 14 inches of fiber optics.  Because my number one pin needs to be as bright as possible.


5 comments on “Bow Sight Brightness

  1. Have you seen these?

    Finding the right equipment is an annoying and expensive process.

    Everybody out hear likes Spot Hogg but IDK. The popular equipment seems to get the best advertising and isn’t necessarily the best

    • Tim says:

      My very first bow sight was a Montana Blackgold. I liked it.

      You’re right about the stuff that spends the advertising dollars getting sold. Its amazing how many people buy stuff based only off of what their favorite tv celebrity advertises.

  2. Why’d you switch to Toxonics? I have a Cobra and the first pin is bright when lit but the rest not as much. They’re encased in plastic tubing. I really don’t want to buy an expensive sight and have it not work out.

    • Tim says:

      The Toxonics sight I got was the brightest I could find when I bought my bow.

      How much glow do you get with a lit sight? I always suspected that the lighted sights would produce too much of a halo around the sight.

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