Guide on How To Sight In A Compound Bow (Step By Step)

I think you and I both can agree that precision is not that important thing in life, but in archery — well, it’s all about precision and accuracy.

NO matter if you are into archery for just fun, hobby, passion, competing professionally, or perhaps even in for hunting — at the end of the HITTING the target is what counts.

With compound bows come many different things — and mounting sights on the bow is just one of the few imperative things.

So hopefully, if a new sight is on your following gear upgrading list, or perhaps you’ve got yourself the best compound bow and are ready with all the equipment, including the sights.

The next thing that comes is how to sight in a compound bow properly. I can agree that if you’ve never sighted in a bow before, this can seem a bit overwhelming, and therefore some people even go to a bow shop and get their bows fine-tuned as well as sighted in for them.

BUT I think paying someone else for something that you can easily do is not a wise choice here, let alone get more accurate shots if you do it yourself.

So fear not, I’ve mentioned just the things you need to understand to properly sight in a compound bow.

Ready? Excellent, let’s get going.

Why Should You Go for A Sight in the First Place?

Why Should You Go for A Sight in the First Place

Sighting in a compound bow is an excellent way to up your success of shooting a target successfully. Using a sight in your compound bow will improve not only your accuracy but also your ability to aim at a target and confidence to handle your bow.

It also enhances your experience of using a compound bow to the next level.

The concept of bow sights is simple; they help you to improve your accuracy and hit the target quickly by using pins or lens or any other form that can get you to hit the bullseye.

These sights will help you in figuring out how low, high, left, and right you should hold your bow to hit the target.

Many sights come with multiple pins or markers for different yards that you can set for specific distances.

So overall, sights can help you increment your accuracy significantly.

When Should You Use a Sight?

Nevertheless, sights are just a sort of reference point, and they give us an idea about how properly we need to align our bow to get a good shot. But as always, there are two sides to every story.

First of all, it all boils down to aiming and sight. Meaning, if you are acquainted with how to aim correctly in archery, you’ll be naturally shooting right.

However, the crucial part of all is shooting, and you should be very well-versed in shooting a compound bow.

Your stance and form play a vital role in getting the right shot, lest if it is not proper, you’ll shoot a lousy shot no MATTER how good you’re aiming.

Mainly for novices, this is imperative. Here sights can prove more distracting than helpful. If you don’t have complete control over your shot and are familiar with what a good shoot looks like and how you can execute one, sights will not be much of a help here.

Here sights will be more distracting as you’ll put in a lot of effort and focus on doing the micro-adjustments rather than actually understanding the shot execution — which is essential, at least for fledglings.

Therefore, if you want to use sights, ensure that you are in total control of your shot and knows the ins and out of your stance, form, and execution.

Once you nail down that part correctly, you’re good to go with sights.

What Exactly Do You See When You’re Sighting in a Compound Bow?

When You’re Sighting in a Compound Bow

This may seem redundant, but many newcomers have this question in their heads for a long time till they actually use one and understand it.

Don’t think sights will automatically aim you in the correct spots, just like in video games.

As I mentioned before, it is just a reference point, and all you’ll see is a moving and shaking reference point. That’s all.

You look at the point, overlay your bow on the target, and that’s all your sight.

What Does It Take To Utilize a Sight Properly?

To use a site correctly, you should be good with your form, and getting better at it may take months.

Many archers struggle to get a good grouping at long distances, even with sights, and it makes sense.

Getting a grouping — especially at long ranges, is not an easy task. It requires a ton of time invested in practicing and aiming. To get better sight settings, you must go through such a process.

And there is NO shortcut for hard work. It will take a heck of manual effort and experience to do so.

Things You Should Consider Before Sighting in a Compound Bow

Sighting in a Compound Bow

Before we plunge deep into aiming and learning about the sighting, certain things to keep in mind that’ll help you with the method. Learning some information early, for example, rules for setting a sight correctly, what yardage you should set your pins to, and how to adjust your sight before your shot, will help you a lot and possibly save you a great deal of vexation.

Some Rules for Setting Your Sight in the Correct Way

Here are some rules that you should abide by — to ensure that you are using sights properly and getting maximum results.

Adjust Your Sights for Grouping

You should ensure that whenever you’re adjusting your sights, it should be for grouping and not single shots.

This way, you’re removing the possibility of a bad shot influencing your sight picture. You see, lousy shots can lead to inaccuracies or wrong shots — if you’re adjusting your sight according to them.

Therefore, by grouping your shots, you can easily gauge how you can adjust your sights.

Follow Your Arrow

When we talk about adjusting your sights, it means following your arrow, and that means when you are shooting arrows, and if they are going toward the left of the center, you’ll need to adjust your pin to the left.

And similarly, if they go above or below the center, you’ll have to do the same accordingly; hence the name, follow your arrow.

When you adjust your bow for those particular deviations, your bow moves in the opposite directions. Thus if your first were a bit right from the center, you’d have to set your pin slightly towards the right, and voila, your arrow should hopefully hit the bullseye.

For instance, if you moved your sight upwards, you’re actually pulling the bow down to aim accordingly, and thus the path of your arrow is also downwards.

How to Adjust Your Sight?

There a ton of sights out there, and adjusting them depends on the model, but at the core, it remains the same.

You can set the pins individually or group the whole sight with gang adjustment. So I’d say, before the shooting, make sure you are playing around the site and try to learn how you can adjust them in your particular model.

You’d want to ensure that you have an Allen Wrench with you all the time as you’ll have to lose the screws on sight to adjust it every time.

From my experience, I’d say keep your tools ready before you head out and start to shoot — trust me, it’ll save a ton of time and frustration. Take some time and play around your sights to learn to adjust them.

What Yardage Should You Adjust Your Pins To?

I think there is not hard ground rule for this, but most of the individuals go from 20 yards to 30, 40, and so forth.

The distance also depends on how many pins your sight has. If you are not going to shoot farther than 30 yards, then having a 40,50, or even 60-yard pin doesn’t makes any sense, let alone come in between your sight picture.

At the same time, if you plan to shoot long-range, you won’t need a 10-yard pin in your sight. Similarly, for 3D archery, you’ll want to set the pins to the distance from where you’ll shoot the most.

That said, if you are not sure about the yards and pins, you can start with 10-yards. Therefore, if you go for three-pin sights, it would be 10, 20, 30 yards, and for four, 40 yards would be added, and it goes on as the distance and pin increases.

How Consistent Your Shooting Technique and Bow Mechanics is?

Lastly, you should look at your shooting form before sighting in your bow. I don’t mean that you should not shoot if you don’t have a perfect shooting form, but it is worth paying attention to it.

You should ensure that your anchor point is dialed in and rock-solid, as, without this, you cannot have better accuracy.

If you are just beginning out with archery, you might find yourself changing your shooting techniques throughout the day when you’re shooting, sighting, and practicing. Don’t worry; this is normal and even happens with experienced archers.

And lest should this happen to you, the best solution is to learn and pay more attention to the way you are shooting and executing your shots. And then, after, make changes to your sights if needed.

Remember, you can always come to your original techniques if things don’t work out.

How to Sight in a Compound Bow Correctly?

How to Sight in a Compound Bow Correctly

Generally, multipin sights are tricker to use, and thus you should do your homework of looking at them and playing with them for a few minutes.

Therefore, ensure that you are doing your bits and bobs about the multipin sights, and once you’ve done it, here are the main steps to abide by when you are sighting in a multipin sign for a compound bow.

Tuning the Bow

Even if you start directly from 20 yards, you cannot expect the best performance as well as the flight from your arrow directly from your bow.

That’s where you have to tune the bow as it is fundamental and essential at the same time. Besides that, you can tune your bow in several ways, such as paper tuning, broadhead tuning, group tuning, torque tuning, and group tuning.

That said, all of these methods are different; you can use some or not, each of these methods has its own fans and critics.

Tip:- Personally, I love to mix multiple tuning methods, and this way, I gain better confidence in my setup, knowing that my shot will hit the target, regardless of the distance.

Tuning will be helpful, especially if you do it before sighting in. You want to ensure that your bow is as precise as possible, and for that, it will take some time and effort as well as some patience from your end.

Start with Your Sight Housing and Set Your Distance

You can set your pins at your desired range with your three-pin standard setup or five-pin.

I would say, go for 20 yards, or even 10 yards won’t hurt if you are just starting. I am saying this based on the skill and situation.

The standard three-pin setup has 20, 30, and 40 yards, but many hunters I’ve known also go for more than 40 yards.

More often than not, many people start with either 10 yards or 20 yards. So it’s a wash.

Pretty often, you should start with 10 yards and then slowly progress your way upwards. You can skip this given that your arrows are hitting dead-on with the same pin.

The reason to start with 10 yards is pretty simple. Firstly, you are quite close to the target. And secondly, the most important one, when you are shooting from 20 yards, your bow can be too low or too high, increasing the chances of your arrows sailing away from the target.

Create a Vertical T

If you don’t know about this method, I’ve been using it for a while, and honestly, it’s the best way to learn to sight accurately and adequately.

So this method is called “ One Axis at a Time,” where you create a vertical T on your target with the help of a tape and try to shoot at the center of the vertical line of your T and later on the horizontal line of the T.

Make sure that you have proper backstops and the area you are shooting is clear from anyone or any house; safety is always imperative.

Keep Allen Wrenches ready, as once you start shooting, you’ll have to make micro-adjustments.

Start By Shooting a Few Arrows For Warm-up and Inspection

Once you’ve created your target, that is — vertical T, stand approximately 10 yards away from your target and get ready with your bow.

Start with the left/right windage axis; here, you’ll be aiming at the vertical part of the T, which is the upper line of T.

Once you’ve aimed, release three to four arrows in a line. After that, closely examine the arrows relating to the vertical line of your target.

Since you are this close to the target, make sure that your arrows are landing right in the center of the vertical line, and you are dead-on the center line as possible.

The reason for this is if you are inaccurate here or there are errors such as your arrows are landing on about a quarter inch on the right side of the center, this inaccuracy will only get multiplied when the distance is increased from 10 yards to 20, and so on & so forth.

Note:- I always say this to newbies; remember the margin error will only get magnified when you will shoot from long ranges. So make sure to be the dead-on center of the vertical T line as much as you can.

Make Adjustments If your Arrows are Not Landing in the Center of the Vertical Line

You’ll have to ensure that you are landing the arrows right in the center of the vertical line. And to do that, you’ll have to adjust your pins.

I think we all know the rule of adjusting your pins — follow your arrow.

Suppose your arrows are going to half an inch right of the vertical T line; adjust your pins slightly toward the right with your Allen Wrench.

Similarly, if the arrows are going left, adjust your entire sight housing to the left.

Note:- While adjusting, you don’t have to go all crazy as it’s better to move the housing several times than jumping all over the place. Also, since you will be starting from 10 yards, there may not be the sight pin for such a range; in this case, it’s best that you adjust the entire sight housing.

Keep repeating this adjusting process till you get your arrows right in the center of the line.

Now Aim for the Horizontal Part

Once you get your arrows all lined up in the center of the vertical line of the T, aim for the horizontal line, and release three to four arrows.

Just like you did for the vertical line, do the same for the horizontal line. However, the catch here is that your adjustments would be not for left and right but up and below the center of the line.

The remaining process is the same, if your arrows are above the center of the horizontal line of your vertical T target, move the sight’s housing slightly above, and vice-versa.

Keep repeating this process till you get all the arrows within the 6-inches in the center of your horizontal line.

Step Back and Set Your First Pin — Most Likely 20 Yards

Now it’s time that you start with more precision and accuracy, but starting with your first pin will be, in most cases, 20 yards.

Get ready with your compound bow, aim, and shoot off four to six arrows at the center of the horizontal line. Now you can set only the top pin by adjusting the entire housing sight.

Once you shoot the arrows, be more precise with your adjustments by moving the sighting house up or down according to following your arrow.

Keep following your arrow and keep making micro-adjustments till you’re hitting dead-on on the horizontal line from 20 yards.

Move with Your Distance

Now it’s time to sight with the other pins, and you will be adjusting them individually. The rest of the pins would be mostly 30, 40, 50, and even 60 yards.

Do the same process, stand from the target at your desired yards, shoot off four to six arrows aiming at the horizontal line of the vertical T target, and adjust them accordingly.

Keep repeating this process till all of your arrows are hitting the center of the horizontal line, and the individual pins are set at their respective distances.

Fine-Tune Your Adjustments

Once all done, go back to the 30-yards range and shoot three to four arrows aiming at the vertical line of the target so that you can fine-tune the windage axis (left/right) with any adjustments that are needed.

While shooting, you’ll find that your arrows are slightly off; the reason is the inaccuracy of multiplication at longer ranges.

Keep fine-tuning any adjustments that are needed by cross-checking that you are consistently hitting the center of the lines at your set distances of the pins.

Remember, any adjustments you’ll make at this point for 20-yards will be for the individual pin and NOT the entire housing sight.

Still Doesn’t Ring a Bell?

I mean, it happens; we read a ton of things and hardly understand a few — especially if that’s something more pragmatic. Therefore, in such cases, the best outcome is by watching a YouTube video, as it can explain a ton of things that merely a bunch of words cannot, at least by reading.

Here’s a video that you can watch and put the sighting method to the test. 

Wrapping Things Up — And Yes – Keep Practicing!

Once you are good with sighting in, get ready with 3D targets and ten rings to put your newly acquainted skill to the test.

You may surprise yourself, and others, given that you’ve practiced a lot. Archery requires patience and effort by practicing so that you can become adroit in the sport.

There are many sighting-in methods, and many people use different versions, just like individuals prefer different distances for their sights.

That said, it depends on your preference and method; at the core, it remains the very same, with subtle adjustments.

Should you have any conundrums to bother my head — Don’t hesitate even for a second and shoot them in the comment section below. I love archery and solving queries relating to it.

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