Sitka Mountain Gear
Garmin Xero Mid-Season Review
Contributors to this thread:
BowmanMD 05-Oct-18
BowmanMD 05-Oct-18
midwest 05-Oct-18
Brotsky 05-Oct-18
kota-man 05-Oct-18
Elkivory 05-Oct-18
BagginBigguns 05-Oct-18
Southern draw 05-Oct-18
nmwapiti 05-Oct-18
BowmanMD 08-Oct-18
From: BowmanMD
Just thought I'd share a few thoughts about the Garmin Xero A1i after using it on my recent elk hunt in New Mexico. My intent is not to start a bash session on the Xero with lovers vs. haters, but more as a sounding board for me (and others) to share their pros and cons of actually using the sight.

1. Set-up. Pretty easy actually, especially after watching a few YouTube videos. It is super-helpful if someone who has already done it before helps you out. Takes maybe 1-2 hours to set-up and get sighted-in.

2. Ease of use. Straightforward, point-and-range operation. The one thing I didn't like is that I set my grip with my bowhand before I draw and I would have to alter this a little to press the ranging button (positioned on the front of the grip on the riser) and then re-set my grip after I ranged. Also, the rangefinding reticle is at the top of the bow sight, so I would have to range and then raise my sight to the appropriate height which isn't a huge deal except that I have always started with my pins above the target and then lowered them down. Just had to get used to doing the opposite.

3. Target acquisition. Quick and easy, just a matter of putting the rangefinding dot on the target and holding the trigger. Becomes a little more difficult difficult in the heat of the moment when you add in the shake-factor, but no harder than keeping your pin steady to make the shot. Another slight drawback for me is that you had to stay at full-draw longer--long enough to range and then long enough to get your pin on the spot and make the shot. It's really only a few extra seconds, but mentally it takes getting used to.

4. Durability. It seems to be built sturdy enough and is surprisingly light, but I was always worried hiking around in the woods that I would bang it on a rock or tree and break something. It has glass and electronic components so I just felt like I had to baby it more. I would be pretty nervous taking it on a sheep or goat hunt in the rocks and in steep rough terrain. No way I would go anywhere without my backup sight ready to screw back on if I needed to.

5. Rain and Fog. One early foggy morning, I had a bull coming in and I tried ranging a few trees to get an idea of the range and kept getting 17 yards on the read-out even though I knew everything wasn't 17 yards. I couldn't get it to read anything other than 17yds, so I just switched over to the fixed pin setting. After the bull spooked and took off, I pulled out my Leica rangefinder and same thing, everything was 17 yards. I assume it was the fog and the laser bouncing off the water particles, so not the Xero's fault since it happened with the Leica, too, but still a limitation. My friend had a similar thing happen in smoky air.

6. Technology factor. Cool and limiting at the same time. The sight worked great most of the time BUT I did have one instance where it said battery was too low and it switched me over to the low battery, fixed pin sight setting. Then a short while later it showed full battery life and went back to normal. Still, it was a little unnerving since we were working a bugling bull who was coming our way and I'm freaking out about the batteries in my sight. It only happened once, but it was still a glitch that made me nervous and made me lose confidence in the sight. Temp was 50 degrees and batteries were lithium and less than 5 days, old, so pretty confident it wasn't a battery issue. Manufacturer says batteries should last 20,000+ ranges. All that being said, you always have the option of switching back over to the fixed-pin setting, which is basically just like using your regular sight, but still...

Final thoughts. It's a great sight and I do like what it offers. Most of the time it worked great, but the few times it glitched (i.e. fog and batteries) made me uneasy. Technology is cool and it's great being able to range and have the pin pop up so all you have to do is focus on making the shot. I shot my bull bedded at 38 yards and it ranged it perfect, pulled up a pin for 38 yards, and the rest was up to me. After using it, I honestly don't think it gives the hunter an unfair advantage. It still takes time, I still had to range the animal like I did with my handheld rangefinder, but it does take away the movement required with the handheld which is a huge plus. And lastly, it's obviously crazy expensive, but probably worth it.

I'd love to hear thoughts from other bowsiters who have used the sight. Disclaimer: I'm just an average shooter/hunter, not sponsored by Garmin or anyone else.

From: BowmanMD

BowmanMD's embedded Photo
BowmanMD's embedded Photo

From: midwest
Nice bull!

From: Brotsky
I would say that bull probably wishes it didn't work quite so good! Congrats on a great animal!

From: kota-man
Nice bull...congrats. Nice review...

From: Elkivory
Exactly the kind of hunter's review I've been waiting on. Thanks! Congrats on a great bull!! Hopefully your post will generate more hunter experiences with the sight.

There was a guy in elk camp the week before me who had one of these, and the guides were a bit annoyed with the obnoxious caution with which he handled it. I can see both sides. On the one hand, it's another thing to worry about, but on the other hand it's a $1k device.

I wished I'd had one on my bow on day 3 of my hunt. I skipped an arrow off the back of a 6x6 after overestimating the range. Luckily, on day 4, I closed the deal on a dandy bull. At 12 yards, I hardly needed a sight, let alone a high-tech sight or range finder. But you never know when circumstances might lend themselves to gadgetry. For now, I'm satisfied with my regular sight, but someday I might change my mind.

Have not used one but thanks for the info and Congrats on your Bull.

From: nmwapiti
Thanks for the review. Watching how these things do for the first year or two. A couple states I hunt would not allow them anyway.

From: BowmanMD
Legality is definitely another consideration depending on which states you want to hunt in. It's legal in most states, but not everywhere.

The other issue with the Xero is that I think that it's primary application is out West where you have the potential for longer shots in open terrain. Unless you are hunting on the edge of a field or in more open woods, I just don't see much of a benefit hunting whitetails. I have everything pre-ranged when I'm sitting in a tree and things always seem to happen so fast with whitetails, especially during the rut, I don't want to have to mess with ranging before shooting most of the time.

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