The peep sight is a simple part of a bow setup, but its importance is often overlooked. The purpose of a peep sight is to properly align the bow’s front sight, in the same way that a rear sight is used to align the front sight-post on a rifle. Without peep alignment, the front sight on a bow isn’t guaranteed to be accurate.
For example, a shooter may place the bow’s sight pin on the bullseye of a target, but the rear of the bow may be low, causing the alignment to be off and the arrow to miss high. When the peep sight is used to align the front sight on a bow, the shooter is ensuring that their alignment is correct, and that consistency can be achieved – shot after shot.
Types of Peep Sights
Peep sights come in various sizes, and are measured by the peep’s internal diameter. From 1/32” on the small end, to 5/16″ on the large end – various sizes are offered to meet user preferences, and to match different diameter front sight housings. The most common peep sights have a fixed internal diameter, but there are some new designs on that market that allow the user to adjust the peep’s inner diameter with interchangeable inserts. Smaller peeps are more precise and are often used by target archers, whereas larger peep sights are typically used by hunters that are looking for more field of view and better visibility in low-light conditions.
Other variations in peep sight designs include tubed and tubeless varieties. Peep sights with tubes have been used to ensure that the peep sight rotated to the correct position every time when the bow was drawn back. This consistency in rotation is achieved at full draw because tension on the peep’s tube would “pull” the peep into position. However, as bow string materials have become stronger and more stable, peep sights have become less susceptible to variances in rotation and the need for added tension has diminished – so tubeless peep sights have become increasingly popular.
How to Use a Peep Sight
There are two primary techniques that are used to align a peep sight with a bow’s front sight. The first method is to center the bow’s sight pin in the center of the peep sight (below, right). In this case, a shooter with a multiple-pin sight would center their 20, 30, or 40-yard pin in the center of the peep sight, depending on which sight pin they were using.
The second method (above, left) is to align the bow’s entire sight housing (the outer “ring” of the sight) within the peep sight’s field of view, regardless of which sight pin the shooter may be using. This technique works especially well when the peep sight is selected to match the size of the sight housing. Keep in mind that there is no exact formula for determining a peep size for a given sight housing size because the geometry of the shooter’s anchor point, draw length, and other factors will determine the distance between the peep sight and the bow sight’s housing.
How to Select a Peep Sight
The main consideration to make when choosing a peep sight is which size you need. You could take a guess, or go through the painful process of installing and trying different sizes, but my preferred method has become to use an adjustable peep sight. Because I like my bow sight’s ring to line-up perfectly within the peep’s field of view, an adjustable peep is incredibly helpful.
The other advantage of an adjustable peep is that I can use it with different bow sights. For example, sometimes I shoot my with one bow sight for target/3D, and then switch to another sight for hunting season. An adjustable peep allows me to switch back-and-forth between these different-sized sights simply adjust the aperture of the peep to match the sight, instead of removing and installing a new peep altogether.
Recently I have been using the IA (Interchangeable Aperture) model peep sight from ClearShot Archery. This kit (pictured above) includes a 5/6” housing, and different inserts that can be installed into the housing to make your peep aperture become 7/32″, 3/16″, or 1/8″. They’re built right here in the US, precision CNC-machined, and come in different colors to help with quick visual recognition.