The Garmin Xero A1i Pro is the most technologically advanced bow sight ever created. It’s an incredible leap in archery equipment.
I’m always curious what new advances are coming to the hunting market and how they may or may not fit into my gear list, especially if it comes to bowhunting.
For the most part, progress in the archery/bowhunting space has really been minor year after year. That was until the release of the Garmin Xero in 2018. It was a huge leap forward in innovation and honestly something many bowhunters have dreamed of having for quite a long time. It’s the first reliable auto-ranging bow sight of our time and a sight many love.
While the original Xero A1 and A1i were good, the revamped Xero A1i Pro is tall.
Garmin Xero A1i Pro: Overview
The new Garmin Xero A1i Pro is everything the previous version was and more.
It’s an auto-ranging digital sight designed to deliver unparalleled accuracy when you need it most. It has a small readout at the top of the case that displays distance to target, degree of angle, and battery life.
This is also where one can navigate the menu and customize the settings as they see fit.
Inside the case, LED pins (red or green) are visible in fixed mode or single pin mode. Your spirit level is located at the bottom of the housing, and an on/off button – along with others for menu navigation – is located at the top of the viewfinder itself.
From the sight, there is a cord that goes down to the handle of your bow. At the end of this cord is your telemetry button. This is glued to the front of the handle. With a single press of this button, the A1i Pro will locate whatever reticle is pointed and display the exact pin for that range inside the case.
It’s quite incredible.
And for Hoyt users, there’s also the A1i Pro Hoyt Edition which is compatible with the Picatinny rail.
One of the main differences of this new Garmin viewfinder is the ability to micro-adjust everything. You can of course micro-adjust windage and elevation, but you can also adjust the overall tilt of the sight. This ensures that the sight box fits your eye perfectly.
The micro-adjustment is a huge improvement and makes it easier to set up jumps and sight limits than older models.
By the way, this view walks you through the setup process step by step.
Automatic spindle calibration
Observation in a Garmin Xero A1i Pro takes less than 10 minutes, and it’s all thanks to the Auto Pin Calibration feature. Based on your arrow speed, arrow diameter, draw length, and even the distance between the sight and the shot, it will automatically calculate your pins up to a custom maximum distance.
Basically you aim into your first pin followed by aiming into a pin for the farthest distance you are comfortable shooting. Once sight guides you through this process – and it literally guides you through – you’re done.
It’s time to go hunting.
If the dynamic level feature is enabled at full draw, you will have two extra pins that will appear if you cant (tilt) your bow too much. For a right-handed shooter, if they are angled too far to the right, the bottom dot will flash.
If tilted to the left, the upper dot flashes. When you level up, the dots disappear. This helps eliminate tilt and, in turn, improves consistency and accuracy.
Many of us are traveling bow hunters. Between the dovetail and the quick-detach cap, a hunter can remove their sight, put their bow in a hard case for protection, and simply reattach it when at camp.
Everything will go back to how it was and you’ll be ready to hunt.
Other cool features
A few other features worth mentioning are XD mode and the ability to pair this sight with your Garmin GPS. XD mode is basically a long range mode. This is what allows you to shoot over 100 yards. You have to adjust the elevation of the entire sight, but it tells you exactly how many clicks to make, meaning you can set things back to normal after the fact.
At the same time, this viewfinder can be associated with a GPS. Your GPS will show exactly where you’ve gone with the Xero. This means that if you shoot a deer you will have a waypoint for where you went away.
This is a nifty feature and one that could be beneficial for retrieving an animal.
My experience with the Garmin Xero A1i Pro
Overall, my personal experience with the A1i Pro has been largely positive. There was a slight learning curve, but that was to be expected. Once it was set up I have to admit this thing was fun to use and very accurate. As, scary exact.
It didn’t matter how far away I stood. As long as I stayed within my maximum distance, which was 87 yards, I almost didn’t even have to look at the distance reading. I would just anchor and focus on making a good shot.
In fact, I was able to take this sight bear hunting with me to Arizona for a few days. Battery life was one of my main concerns. This hunt was one where I spent an awful lot of time sitting in shades on the ground. That being said, I didn’t want to have to turn on the sight if a bear appeared. So I left it on. In 5 days of hunting, the battery level has not dropped an ounce. It was impressive.
I couldn’t take down a bear on this trip, but with the accuracy of this sight, I walked the terrain with ultimate confidence. I knew I was going to hit exactly the hair I was aiming for.
So that was another positive for me. Confidence is everything in bowhunting.
We need to touch the snowy side of the hill a bit here. Although the A1i Pro is an incredible feat in archery technology, it does have its downsides.
The biggest thing for me was the worry that all of a sudden it wouldn’t work. This is a computer, after all. There was one time at the shooting range when he decided he didn’t want to do it for me. With bowhunting opportunities so hard to come by, this presents some concern.
And because of the lack of pins, if it decides not to work, you’re 100% out of the game. That’s cause for concern, especially when it comes to things like backpack hunting where what you got is what you got.
Finally, another thing that many will lose their minds over is the price. The Garmin A1i Pro going to cost you $1299. This number is enough to choke out a breakfast and will limit the number of bowhunters that use the sight to 100%.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these views are not legal everywhere. In the majority of the United States this is perfectly fine, but it is your responsibility to ensure the Xero is legal where you plan to hunt.
Garmin Xero A1i Pro: End Note
When the rubber meets the road, there’s no denying that Garmin has done something exceptional here. Sight is just plain cool technology. And while it’s not for everyone, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon, as it will undoubtedly appeal to a lot of people.
I expect Garmin to continue to build on this innovative platform they have created and, in turn, this will make bowhunters more accurate than ever. Who knows, in 30 years this could very well be the standard in bow sights. Time will tell us.
Although I don’t know what the future holds, I do. The Garmin Xero A1i Pro will destroy many Xs and fill many freezers. You can take care of it.
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