You’re still relatively new to archery, so each time you want to make an accurate shot, you rely on your bow and arrow’s peep sight. Yet a much more experienced friend of yours has begun shooting without a peep sight and it almost seems to augment their accuracy. Can you really go without a peep sight?
You can aim a bow and arrow without a peep sight, but it will take some practice to make accurate shots. To forego a peep sight, select at least two anchor points and look to one side of the bowstring consistently as you shoot.
If you need a refresher on peep sights or you want more information on aiming and shooting a bow and arrow without one, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll even talk about the pros and cons of peep sights in archery, so you won’t want to miss it.
What Is a Peep Sight?
We’ve written about peep sights on the blog before, but that was admittedly a while ago, so let’s start with a recap, shall we?
Peep sights are a standard feature in compound bows. If you look at your bowstring right now and see a hollow circle in the middle, this is the peep sight. You’re supposed to stare into the peep sight so you can focus more strategically on your target and aim your bows accurately.
The peep sight works best when used in conjunction with a bow sight, which includes calibrated pins that you match up with the target, again for accuracy’s sake. Some archers even align the bow sight with the peep sight if the two are similar in size and then make their shot.
These days, peep sights are almost always tubeless, although that once wasn’t the case. Yours will measure anywhere from 1/36th inches to 1/4th inches depending on the compound arrow you own.
Do You Need a Peep Sight to Aim Your Bow and Arrow?
Peep sights are supposed to be a valuable feature, or else why would they come standard with compound bows? Yet some archers have decided to ditch peep sights altogether. These days, no-peep systems are rising in popularity, especially among those who enjoy competitive archery. Archery hunters are quite big on no-peep systems as well.
This tells us that no, a peep sight isn’t mandatory to aim your bow and arrow. However, there are caveats to this.
For one, if you’re new to archery and still learning the ins and outs, we wouldn’t recommend you shoot without a peep sight quite yet. You’ll need all the help with accuracy that you can get, and peep sights provide that.
Most archers who decide that peep sights aren’t for them have shot with versus without them for long periods in both cases. They may find that their accuracy is even better without peep sights by comparing their results of going with and without. Beginners don’t have that frame of reference yet.
The second caveat is this: even if you’re an experienced archer, make sure you’re using the peep sight correctly. Some archers call peep sights worthless only to discover that they were misusing the sight all this time. It happens, and that’s okay. What matters far more is correcting your mistake so you can be a more accurate archer.
How to Aim a Bow and Arrow Without a Peep Sight
If you’re confident enough in your archery skills that you want to skip the peep sight altogether and still make the most of the shots you fire, how do you go about doing it? Allow us to explain.
Step 1: Find Your Anchor Points
This is the most important part of the process, so let’s talk about it in some detail. An anchor point in archery is a point of reference you use when firing. Relying on your anchor point allows you to maintain alignment and form from shot to shot, which naturally increases your accuracy when firing with your bow and arrow.
Now, anchor points can’t keep up your alignment and form; that’s on you. All an anchor point can tell you is where you should be and how you should position yourself. Yet many archers have found that even if they focus more on the consistency of the anchor point and less on their form that their shots are still more accurate. That’s not an excuse to slack off in your alignment, but it is an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
What are the criteria for choosing an anchor point? You want an anchor point that’s comfortably within your reach. In other words, if you have to arch your head up to achieve the anchor point, it’s not a good one. The anchor point must also recur and be easily identifiable amongst the rest of your surroundings.
You shouldn’t choose an anchor point that meets one criterion or even two out of three, but all three points. When firing with compound bows as we’ve discussed throughout this article, you can expect your anchor point to be nearer to your mouth than when using another type of bow.
Lots of factors can affect your anchor point from one day to another, most of which are in your control. For example, if you’re chewing gum, that will definitely play a role in where your anchor point is. The same is true if your mouth is open versus closed or if you’re scowling or keeping your face relaxed. Even tilting your head can affect your anchor point.
Once you have an anchor point, go ahead and choose another. You need at least two anchor points when not using a peep sight if you’re expecting accuracy from your shots.
Step 2: Use the Bow Sight but Not the Peep Sight
Peep sights are typically built into compound bows while bow sights are not, but the latter is preferable over the former to some archers. The pins within the device will serve as your new guide once you go peep sightless. You might have to move your head a bit either right or left to get a reading from your bow sight. Keep this in mind when selecting your anchor points, as you know how important head positioning is.
Step 3: Fire!
Sighting your bow and focusing more on the bow sight than the peep sight while staying in alignment will put you in the right position to go peep sight-free. Try firing and see how it feels. More than likely, the first few arrows you shoot will be sort of awkward and not very accurate. The more you practice, the greater your accuracy should become.
Remember your anchor points for each shot you fire, maintaining the consistency of the anchor points from one shot to another.
If you find that even with consistent anchor points and perfect form that you’re still not firing to your full potential without peep sights, there’s no rule that says you don’t have to use them. It’s optional and preferable to some archers, but not all.
What Are the Benefits of Peep Sights?
Besides, using a peep sight is advantageous for a lot of reasons!
Archery is an attractive sport to many, but those archers who are just starting out don’t want to waste their whole day firing arrow after arrow and hitting none of their targets. They may need an extra aid for accuracy, and peep sights are that aid. Sure, if the archer ever decided to play competitively then maybe they’d ditch the peep sight, but if the sight is helping them learn and improve, why not use it?
Easy to Use
Unlike other aids like bow sights that don’t always come with the purchase of your compound bow, a peep sight is built right in. It’s designed to be used and doesn’t require a lot of effort to figure out how it works. Just look through the hole, focus, and shoot. That’s easy enough that beginners can feel like experts in no time.
We also don’t want to downplay the accuracy of using a peep sight. The sight alone is not all it takes to shoot accurately, as anchor points are also invaluable, but peep sights undoubtedly help.
Plays Nicely with Other Accessories
We’ve talked about bow sights throughout this article, but that’s not the only accessory that peep sights are compatible with. Kisser buttons work with peep sights as well. What is a kisser button, you ask? This button connects to your bowstring and goes between the lips to serve as one reliable anchor point from shot to shot.
What Are the Downsides of Peep Sights?
The reason peep sights are sometimes hated among archers probably comes down to the next couple of reasons.
Might Minimize Visibility in Dim Conditions
Sure, peep sights work great on a sunny day or a clear morning, but what about at dawn or dusk? Not so much. If the weather is cloudy or misty, you may also struggle to get a good view through your peep sight. That makes the sight as good as useless, so it doesn’t hurt to know how to use a compound bow without a peep sight for these situations.
The Hole Can Get Blocked up
A light drizzle passed through this morning, and while it was enough to pause your archery activities for a while, the weather has since cleared and you’ve resumed firing. The only problem is your peep sight got wet. Drying it off isn’t as easy as using a cloth or even your t-shirt since the hole is so tiny. Even flecks of dirt can get in the peep sight and affect your vision, thus impacting your accuracy.
Twisting Can Occur
Another problem with peep sights is they sometimes move on their own, getting twisted as you position yourself for the shot. Imagine taking the time to perfect your alignment and find your anchor points only to look through your peep sight and see that it’s twisted! Ugh, that’s frustrating.
Firing a bow and arrow without peep sights is possible, and whether you do so will come down to personal preference. Some archers hate peep sights while others use them all the time. Even if you’re a peep sight fan, learning to fire without one is wise in case your peep sight gets twisted or blocked up or you want to shoot in darker conditions!