Garmin combines rangefinder, laser-sighting system for bowhunters
Each year at the Archery Trade Association’s trade show, there’s usually one new product that has the most “buzz” around the show.
No matter where you go, this “buzz-worthy” product enters the conversation; you can hear people talking about it as you walk up and down the aisles.
Usually, it’s the hottest new compound or crossbow, but at the most-recent show, all eyes were on the new Garmin Xero Bow Sight.
This sight has features and advantages never before offered in the archery world, and many archers were quick to take notice. Garmin has long been a magnum force in electronics and GPS technology, and now it has brought that experience to our industry.
First of its kind
Garmin’s Xero Bow Sight is the first bow-mounted, laser rangefinder and sighting system that measures the angle-compensated distance to the target, and then provides an exact LED sight pin for the shot. This offers several advantages over previous technology, one of which is less movement due to no longer needing to raise a rangefinder to your eye and then lower it to draw your bow.
A typical shot scenario will go something like this: When a shot at an animal or target is presented, the archer simply squeezes the grip mounted pressure switch, which illuminates an LED ranging dot in the sight. The archer then places that dot on the animal’s vitals — or the target — and releases the pressure switch. At that point, the LED will move to the correct aiming point, and the archer uses that LED as a sight pin.
There is no need to consciously choose a correct pin; the Xero sight automatically adjusts for distance. Another huge advantage is a shorter shot time. Many times, I have ranged an animal, only to have it turn to an unfavorable shot angle while I am trying to get drawn.
Also, because there is only one pin displayed at a time, the archer’s sight picture is much less cluttered. I especially appreciate this fact as I age, and multiple pins begin to blur together for me.
In the past, bow-mounted rangefinders have been extremely heavy, adding a lot of weight to the setup and drastically affecting its balance. When I first held the Xero sight, I was immediately impressed with its relatively light weight. At slightly less than 15 ounces, it is lightweight and feels great on my Mathews Halon 6. It must be calibrated to your individual bow, but setup is menu-driven and prompts you throughout the process. And brightness of the LED pins is easily adjusted to an archer’s eyesight for precise, crisp aiming points that are easily visible. Within 30 minutes, this sight can be set up and sighted in out of the box on most setups. Range to target is clearly displayed at the top of the sight on an LCD screen, but it’s not necessary to read because the correct pin is automatically illuminated.
The sight comes in two models, the Xero A1 Bow Sight and the Xero A1i. Both offer the same basic functionality, but the Xero A1i offers several advanced features, including dual-color (red or green) LED pins, multiple arrow profiles and a laser-locate function. I believe the green LED pins (A1i only) will offer an advantage because it differentiates them from the initial ranging pin (which is red).
The laser locate function enables the user to “project” a waypoint to where the animal was standing at the shot, as well as where it was last seen or entered cover, and sync that with some handheld Garmin GPS units or the Garmin watch.
If there are any drawbacks to the new sight, they are cost and legality. Suggested retail for the Xero A1 is $799.99, and the Xero A1i is $999.99.
And although it is legal in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and the South in general, the unit is currently not legal in every state, so check regulations where you will be hunting before purchasing one.
That being said, the simplicity, clear sight picture, quicker target ranging and shorter shot time — coupled with less movement — makes this product a game-changer, especially for spot-and-stalk hunting out West.
Stop by your local Garmin dealer and check one out for yourself.
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