How to Sight In a Bow: A Guide for Beginners

How to Sight In a Bow: A Guide for Beginners

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When it comes to archery, muscle control and peace of mind are two factors that contribute to a successful shot. Concentrate on the bow, arrow, and the target and focus on shooting perfectly. These are the general rules of thumb, but what are the specific steps on how to sight in a bow?

The task of perfectly sighting in a bow is one of the challenging parts of archery—you have to know at which angle can hit the target or how much adjustment you need to make. For beginners and experienced archers alike, it is a daunting process.

Unfortunately, you can’t perfectly sight in your bow too quickly. The good news, however, is that learning how to do it is relatively easy, especially since you have this guide to teach you how.

First Things First: Adjust Your Bow Sight!

The first thing to check before sighting in a bow is to determine if your bow sight is properly adjusted. It is only you who can do this because the adjustment depends on your point of view, stance, and manner of shooting.

Whatever kind of crossbow you are using, the principle in adjusting the bow sight is always the same: move the pins up or down, left or right, then shoot at least three arrows with a consistent point of aim, draw, anchor, and launch. It does not matter if you hit the target or not.

If you shoot the groups of arrows to the left of the target, you should move the pin to the left. If you hit the arrows above the target, you should move the pin at a higher level.

How to Sight In a Bow: A Step-by-Step Guide

Properly sighting in a bow increases the accuracy of your shot and maximizes your chances of hitting the target. It allows you to make up for an arrow drop caused by gravitational pull over distance and for minor disruption caused by how you shoot the arrow.

In order to accurately sight in a bow, there are several easy steps that you need to do. If you follow these steps very carefully, then you can be certain that you have all the means to hit your target right where you want to.

Step 1 – Prepare the Bow and Range

Fatigue is the number one factor that adversely affects your shooting accuracy and power. It also causes your stance to change. To prevent you from getting tired, spread your sighting in several days and sessions. Doing so will greatly improve your accuracy.

Buy the bow sight that suits your preferences and shooting objectives. You can buy them at sporting goods stores and archery supply outlets. In fact, you will find hundreds of bow sights, and choosing which one best suits your needs is a challenge in itself.

This guide on sighting in a bow uses the fixed-pin sight, the most commonly used bow sight.

Once you have the bow sight, install it to the riser. Generally speaking, the bow sight must be installed at a right angle to the bow. Refer to the instruction manual for proper installation.

Once you have mounted it to the riser, leave it overnight. You may need to lock it in further after it settles. Starting with a well-tuned bow is the first important technique to sight in the bow successfully. Make sure you don’t skip this first step.

Step 2 – Sight In with the First Pin

Place the first pin (20-yard pin) at the nearest distance to the target, usually 10 yards away. Stand in a way that your body is perpendicular to the target and draw one arrow back with your elbow.

Focus on the view of the top pin and shoot the arrow towards the target. You don’t have to focus on the accuracy yet because the pin can probably change. Repeat the step with few more arrows or until the arrow no longer shots at the top pin.

Then, move back a couple of steps back so that you are 20 yards away from the target. Repeat the steps stated in the previous paragraph, elevating the sight box if needed. When the arrows are not hitting the top pin anymore, you must adjust the sight to the left or right to the direction of the arrows.

Step 3 – Set the Second Pin

Once you have set the 20-yard top pin accurately, step back to increase your distance from the target at 30 yards. It is important to make this 30-yard pin accurate because it will serve as the anchor of your sight.

Shoot a few arrows towards the target using the sight of the second pin. If necessary, make some adjustments as you did at a 20-yard distance. Do not forget to adjust the whole sight when making adjustments.

Step 4 – Step back at 40 yards Away from the Target

Draw and shoot a few arrows using the sight of the 40-yard pin. This time, instead of moving the entire sight box, adjust the pin to make any adjustment. You don’t have to move the sight box left or right.

If you need to move your sight to the left or to the right, go back to the 30-yard pin. Your goal at the 40-yard pin is to make the arrow go to the specific point where the pin points. Take note that the distance between the 30- and 40-yard pins is greater than the distance between the 20- and 30-yard pins.

Step 5 – Shoot at 20 Yards Again

Once you have set the 30-yard pin and made adjustments to the 40-yard pin, step back at the 20-yard pin and shoot a few arrows again. If you need to make adjustments, then what you need to do is to move the pin instead of the entire bow sight.

Step 6 – Step Back and Sight In Extra Pins

You can have extra pins at 50 yards, 60 yards, and more depending on your sight. Move away from the target and reiterate the steps above. However, this time, you need to move the pin instead of the sight box in order to make adjustments.


The above-mentioned steps of sighting in a bow are very easy to learn. However, you have to understand that even if you do know how to sight in a bow, you can’t do everything in a single day.

Since we avoid fatigue that causes inaccuracy, sighting in a bow takes place over few sessions or as the string stretches and becomes comfortable. Once the string becomes stable, the bow sight will not move for months or probably even years!

Properly sighting in a bow decreases guessing and places the vertical and horizontal alignments at accurate angles. It is very useful especially when shooting at farther distances where the groups of arrow start to grow bigger. So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try and see how it improves your shooting accuracy.

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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