How to Sight in a Bow

It takes patience and skill to shoot bull’s eyes.

When hunting, you need to hit exactly where you are aiming at, even over a long distance. As you can imagine, this is not easy.

There are environmental variables that are out of your control such as gravity and the wind. There is also the issue of human error and commotion during the shooting.

That is why you need a sight. It is a device that uses a marker like a pin (or pins) to help you accurately hit your target. However, the process of sighting in a bow – adjusting your sight for maximum accuracy and consistency – poses a challenge for newbies and veteran archers alike.

This guide is meant to simplify it for you and save you the frustration.

Fixed-pin sights are the most common so this article will focus on that.

Assuming you already have one, attach it to your bow. You can follow the given instructions or take it to the pro-shop (and ask them to tune it for you while at it). All your other equipment should be in good condition and all parts properly fixed. If you have not shot your bow in a while, check it keenly to make sure everything is still in its right place.

A typical 3-pin sight has a 20-, 30- and 40-yard pin setup. Again, it will be assumed that your top pin is at 20 yards.

Sighting In

Method 1

What you need:

  • Your bow
  • A target
  • Arrows
  • Allen wrench (for adjusting the pins)

Stand 10 yards from your target and aim at the center. Shoot several arrows and see where they land in regard to the center.

If you notice that your arrows are hitting too much to the left, move the sight to the left; if they are hitting to the right of your target, move the sight to the right. If they land too much to the top, raise the sight and if they land below the spot, lower the sight. It is the opposite of how you do it with a rifle. Move the sight slightly, do not overdo it; otherwise, you will be doing this all day. Adjust your sight until you are satisfied.

Next, stand at 20 yards from the target. Most hunters shoot from a distance of 20 yards and if you are one of them, you need to be very keen here. Just as you did above, adjust the sight by following the direction of the arrows. Once the bow is zeroed at 20 yards, you can move on to 30 and 40 yards.

While standing 30 yards from your target, try shooting a few arrows. Aim using the second pin. Now, instead of adjusting the whole sight, you only adjust the 30-yard pin. It is not necessary to adjust the entire device for a large distance.

Once this pin is dialed in, move back so you are standing 40 yards from the target and aim using the third pin. Adjust the 40-yard pin the same way you did with the 30-yard pin.

Lastly, go back to the 20-yard mark. Shoot from there while making adjustments to the pin, not the sight. There you have it! An easy method of sighting in your bow.

Note: if your sight has any additional pins, adjust them, as you did the 30- and 40-yard pins.

Method 2

Some experts say that this method is the best and easier one. You sight in using horizontal and vertical lines instead of some ‘X’ mark on a target.

What you need:

  • Your bow
  • A target
  • Arrows
  • Allen wrench (for adjusting pins)
  • Tape

Use the tape to make a vertical line on your target (ideally, the color of the tape should contrast with the color of the target). Also, try making it a straight line. Next to this vertical line make another line, a horizontal one this time.

Stand at 10 yards from your target and aim at the vertical line. Shoot about 4 arrows to get an idea of how to move your sight. Try shooting the arrows in a vertical line. If they all land to the left of the line, you need to move your sight slightly to the left; if they are landing to the right, move your sight to the right. Keep adjusting to make sure all arrows hit the tape at the center.

Next, focus on the horizontal line. Use your top pin to aim at the line over a distance of 10 yards. Shoot an arrow to see where it hits. If the arrow lands too far from the line (six inches or more), adjust the sight by following the arrow. In this step, do not try too hard to perfect the aim. As long as the arrow is hitting near the line, it is okay.

Once this is done, move back so you are standing 20 yards from the target. Again, use your top pin to try and hit the horizontal line. Depending on where the arrows are landing in relation to the line, adjust the top pin or the entire sight, if need be, until you are perfectly hitting the line.

It is now time to adjust the 30-yard pin. Stand 30 yards from the target and aim at the line using the 30-yard pin. Adjust the pin by moving it up or down. You can then repeat this process with the 40-yard pin over a 40-yard distance.

Try hitting the vertical line over a bigger distance just to make sure your rights and lefts are still perfect. Adjust as necessary. Now try hitting both lines consistently. If everything seems fine, you are ready.

Sighting in your bow is not going to be very easy.

However, if you follow any one of the two methods, you will find it bearable and probably even fun.

The first method involves aiming at the usual ‘X’ mark on a target and adjusting the sight up, down, left or right.

With the second one, you take care of your ups/downs and lefts/rights separately. Many people consider method 2 the better and more effective one. It all comes down to personal preference.

Since this process can be tiring, spread it over a few days because fatigue will affect your accuracy.

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