The Best Way to Sight in your Bow


Are you confident in your shot? I mean really, truly confident? If you’re questioning yourself even a little bit, here’s a different method to use for sighting in your bow. It’s a faster, easier, and more accurate way to sight in your bow.

Rather than trying to hover over the top of an “X” on an archery target, use a vertical and horizontal line to hone in your bow sight quickly and effectively. By aiming at lines rather than a bull’s-eye you focus on one axis at a time and by the time you’re done, you’ll be able to drive tacks with your bow and arrow.

Step 1:

Using a level, place a piece of tape perfectly vertical on the target. Then, place another piece of tape running perfectly horizontal. You can also mark these lines on paper and pin them to your target.

A block style target works the best for this method of sighting in a bow.

Step 2:

Make sure you mark your arrows so you know if you have a bad one in the bunch. If one arrow is off target every time you know it’s not you, but the arrow.

Marking individual arrows with a numberNumbering the fletchings with a sharpie is an easy way to differentiate your arrows.

Step 3:

Start by standing 5-yards from the target to make sure you will hit it with your first shots. Sight in your left and right by aiming at the vertical tape or line. Shoot 3-5 arrows at the vertical line to gauge whether you need to move your pin to the left or the right. Aim just above or below the previous arrow so you can easily tell which way your bow sight needs to be adjusted. Repeat until all arrows are hitting the center of the tape or line.

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Stand close to the target on your first few shots to ensure you are hitting close to the line.

Which way to move your pin?

Follow your arrow – if you hit left of the tape, move your site left (as if you were looking through it); if you hit right, move the sight to the right.

Hitting left means you need to adjust sight left to bring arrows back to the rightAfter my first four arrows, it was clear that the sight needed to be adjusted to the left. Moving the sight left will cause you to bring your bow to the right when aiming.

After three adjustments I finally was hitting dead center of the tape – my left and rights were set.

Step 4:

Take a shot from 5-yards while aiming at the horizontal line using your top pin. If it’s more than 6 inches from the line, adjust the entire sight housing until the upper pin is hitting somewhat close to the line – this will make it easier when you move out to 20-yards. Don’t spend too much time getting this perfect because you will be adjusting the pin in the next step. This is simply a precautionary step to ensure you’ll be hitting the target at 20-yards.

Step 5:

Stand 20-yards from the target (or wherever you want your first pin set at) and aim at the horizontal line using your top pin. Adjust your pin or sight housing until all arrows are hitting the center of the tape or line.

The first pin is the only pin you can adjust by moving the entire sight housing. Once you have one pin locked in, the other pins must be adjusted by moving each one separately.

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how to sight in your bowUse a rangefinder to identify the distances you want to set your pins for optimum accuracy. Here I’m standing at 20-yards to sight in my top pin.

Which way to move your pin?

Follow your arrow – if you hit above of the tape, move your site/pin up (as if you were looking through it); if you hit low, move the sight to the down.

After the first round of shots from 20-yards, it was clear the sight needed to be adjusted down in order to bring my arrows up. You’ll notice the arrow to the right is quite a bit lower than the others; this was a result of fatigue. Be sure to take as much rest as you need to make consistent shots, even it means spreading out the sight in process over several days.

arrows in the horizontal tape line mean your distance is sighted inAfter an adjustment, my 20-yard pin is hitting right where it needs to be. Time to back up and repeat for my 30, 40, and 50-yard pins.

Step 6:

Repeat the process of step 5 using your next pin down and standing at the next desired distance, most likely 30 yards. Then move out to 40 yards and so on.

Notice how the 20-yard pin is near the top in order to leave room for the rest of the pins.

Step 7:

Double check your left and rights at a further distance by aiming at the vertical tape again. Any slight adjustments you may not have noticed at 5-yards will be magnified at 20, 30, and 40-yards. Once the fine tuning is done and you’re hitting the vertical and horizontal tape lines consistently, you should be ready for the woods. Double check by aiming at a 3-D target or a 10-Ring target…I think you’ll be surprised at how much more accurate your shots have become and how much tighter your groups are after using this method to sight in your bow.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>