A couple of years back, Garmin stunned the archery industry by releasing the Xero A1 range finding bow sight. At the time of its release, this sight unveiled technology we had never seen before, with the ability to range a target while at full draw and giving you a single LED pin placement as an aiming point. Additionally, the upgraded Xero A1i model gave you the ability to store multiple arrow profiles, letting you easily switch to a heavier broadhead or different arrow set up.

I shot the Xero A1i extensively and really was blown away by the way it worked. A couple of other manufacturers have followed in Garmin’s footsteps with their own range finding bow sights, creating a suddenly competitive market. But now Garmin aims to put some distance between itself and the competitors with the brand new Xero A1i Pro, which is loaded with new features and some truly impressive technology.

My full video review is embedded below. Just a warning...it's a long one. The Xero A1i iPro, as you might guess, has a lot going on in it and I tried to cover as much as possible in this review. If you watch on the YouTube channel, the video is broken down into chapters to make it a bit easier to skip to the sections you are interested in. Or you can read the story below the video.

Return Technology

Before we get to what’s new, we should discuss what hasn’t changed. If you are familiar at all with the original Garmin Xero, it won’t take you long to get comfortable with the A1i Pro. The site works the same way. You can still choose between a single range able LED pin or multi-pin setup like you would have in a regular sight – expect you have LED lights instead of bulky pins cluttering up the sight picture. You still use a ranging button placed on the front of the bow opposite the grip and you can range at full draw or just by holding the sight up to your eye level and ranging the target from there. So as far as the user experience goes…it works the same.

Beyond that, though, there are some notable differences…including a couple that I think might set the Xero A1i Pro apart from its competition. We will get to that in just a minute or two.

Easy Sight Detach

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First, let’s look at the most obvious to the eye change. The Xero A1i Pro comes with a dovetail mount, which is a great addition. The Xero is a big sight and it doesn’t fit properly into a lot of bow cases when attached to the bow. Now you can just loosen a set screw and pop off the sight and throw it into a bag or somewhere in your bow case.

But Garmin didn’t stop there. They also made a picatinny mount to fit on the new Hoyt bows. That is what I’m using now and like the dovetail system, you can disconnect this easily and take the sight off of the bow when you put it away. Brilliant.

Micro Adjustability

Now let’s talk about set up. New on the Xero A1i Pro is micro adjustability for the four main axes. Like a regular bow sight, the Xero uses both horizontal and vertical adjustments. But it also has two unique-to-Garmin adjustments that are used when initially setting up the bow. Like original Xero, the A1i Pro has a reticle that shows up in the scope when ranging. This reticle is a small dot that when perfectly set up will sit in the center of a circle. You use the two reticle adjustments – called RAV and RAH – to move the sight into place so the dot ends up in the circle when you come to full draw. It’s a great tool that lets you know you are in the proper position and aren’t applying any unusual torque to the grip. On the original Xero, getting the reticle aligned was a bit cumbersome. But now that there is micro adjustability, it is a much smoother process.

Faster Set Up

This new micro adjustability makes the process of getting the bow mounted and the reticle aligned a much faster process. But that is just the beginning. You can input your draw length and bow speed into the Xero A1i Pro and it will create a pin stack for you as a starting point. Then you just have to sight in at 20 yards and validate the pin stack at a longer distance. I chose 60 yards. I ended up shooting a few inches high when I got out to 60 yards, so I just inputted how high my group was and the pin stack was adjusted automatically. Then I kept shooting until I was comfortable with my pin at 60 yards. After that, I was pretty much done. I shot a variety of distances from 10 to 75 yards just to make sure everything was dialed in, but I didn’t have to make any other changes to the sight during set up.

The entire process from mounting the sight to being fully sighted in took me about 40 minutes, but I was being meticulous with my pin at 60 yards. If I was in a hurry, I have no doubt I could have gotten very close in 20 minutes or so.

Xtra Distance Mode

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All told, the sight as it stands gives me shooting range out to 87 yards. That is more than enough for me considering the space I have available to me, but if you have a little more room and light to practice at long range, there is a new feature on the Xero A1i Pro that can help.

XD mode – or Xtra Distance – lets you drop the scope down using the vertical micro adjustment and sight will automatically build you a new pin stack. You just have to input how much you moved the sight and make sure you put it back when you are done. In theory, I should be able to from a maximum of 87 yards out to 100 yards or more – so long as I have enough room between my arrow and the scope. I would lose the ability to shoot under 30 yards, but it would allow me to practice at longer distances if the need ever arose.

Dynamic Level

Now let’s get to those features that I think are real game changers. The first is called Dynamic Level. If you turn on Dynamic Level, the sight will let you know when you are canting the bow to the left or to the right at full draw. If you are level, you’ll only see the single aiming dot. But if you are canting, two red dots will appear. If the top one is blinking, you are canting to the left and if the bottom one is blinking, you are canting to the right.

These really only come on when you are shooting at longer distance unless you are really making a mess of things. The idea is they won’t come on unless the sight thinks you are in danger of missing your target. So on shorter shots you have a bit more leeway with canting. But the longer the shot, the more level you need to hold the bow.

This is a feature I really like, as it is one more tool you have to avoid making a bad shot on an animal.

Flight Apex

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My favorite new feature is one Garmin calls Flight Apex and for those of us who hunt in the woods or where clearance from branches is an issue – this one can be a real difference maker. If you activate the Flight Apex feature, when you range your target you will see a flashing light above your aiming dot. If you are looking at full draw, this will show you how high your arrow will travel at its highest point. If you happen to see a branch or some other obstacle in line with that flashing light (or slightly below), you should probably re-think that shot.

And while nobody wants to let down when you have a shooter buck in front of you, if it means you don’t send an arrow careening off a branch and potentially missing or making a bad shot on an animal, that’s a huge win.

Down Sides

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As you can probably tell, I’m pretty happy with the new features Garmin added to what was already an incredible sight. But nothing is perfect and the Xero A1i Pro isn’t without some potential down sides.

First up is weight. The original Xero A1i I shot was not exactly a lightweight at 14 ¾ ounces. Compared to a regular multi-pin sight, that is a big weight increase. The new Garmin Xero A1i Pro is even heavier. I weighted mine in at just a hair under 18 ounces. While I’m not one who has to walk miles and miles to get to my hunting spots, that weight is still noticeable when you shooting the bow. The good news is I can offset some of that by not carrying a rangefinder with me and by removing a couple of ounces from my stabilizer, but it is still something to consider.

Another potential mark against the Xero A1i Pro is that it not legal in all 50 states. That’s not an issue for me personally, but you should definitely check local bylaws where you plan to hunt if you are considering this sight.

The Xero A1i Pro is also still an electronic device and if something ever goes wrong with it, there is no backup 20-yard pin. The good news is putting in a fresh lithium battery at the beginning of hunting season should give you all the juice you need for many months of shooting…and you can always pack a spare with you just in case. I should point out that I’ve hunted with the original Xero A1i in the rain, in the snow, and in hot and humid conditions and I’ve never once had an issue.

Perhaps the biggest mark against the Xero A1i Pro is the price tag. This sight carries an MSRP of $1299. That is easily the most expensive bow sight on the market, but when you consider all the technology wrapped up in this package, the price isn’t all that surprising. And if you still want a range finding bow sight, the original Garmin A1 and A1i are still available for hundreds of dollars less.

Bottom Line

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The bottom line is this is the most advanced bow sight I have ever laid eyes on. Features like Flight Apex and Dynamic level, combined with the reticle alignment system, could save you from making a bad shot on an animal. That alone makes the price a whole lot easier to swallow.