How To Sight In A Bow

Learning how to sight in a bow is a fairly simple process yet one that must be mastered if you hope to be accurate on the range or in the field.  This step by step guide will walk you through the process of getting your sight dialed up so you’ll be shooting bulls eyes in no time.

Adjusting a Bow Sight

Many high end bow sights now feature tool-less micro adjustment for making quick and easy changes on the fly. While a nice feature to have, it is one that you can expect to pay considerably more for.

Assuming that your sight is already mounted to your bow’s riser the first thing you want to look at is the left and right (windage) placement of your pin.  To start you want your sight pin to be roughly in line with your arrow.  If you are too far left or right you may miss the target altogether.  Depending on the make and model of your bow sight you may need a set of allen keys to adjust your sight.  Although many sights now feature tool less adjustments which can be very handy.

Once your windage adjustment is set you’ll want to make sure that the first pin (top pin) sis in the center of the pin housing; assuming that a 3-Pin sight is being used. This should be the safest position with regard to potential arrow impact. Most sight pins can be adjusted with an Allen wrench by loosening the Allen head screw that rests on the outer edge of the pin. This will allow you to slide the sight pin up or down to achieve the desired placement.  Much like your windage adjustment these vertical adjustments, called elevation adjustments, may be able to be made without the need of an Allen key.  Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for exact details.

With your sight now roughly adjusted you’ll want to go ahead and take your first shot.  Since your bow is not properly sighted in at this time you will want to make sure you start close to the target.  Most bow technicians recommend roughly 10 yards as your starting point.  This will minimize the amount your arrow may be off and reduce the chances of missing the target altogether.  Speaking of targets, your target face should have a highly visible aiming dot and be large enough to provide adequate room to stop the arrow since the initial shot will be made not knowing where the arrow is going to impact. 

Now it’s time to take your first shot.  A crisp, clean shot should be attempted in order to ensure accuracy during the sighting in process. Any shot that is taken under tension or doesn’t feel like a “good” shot should be repeated before any adjustments are made to the sight pin.  Remember, this isn’t a race.  You want to be as accurate and methodical as possible during this process.  Also, it is a good idea to shoot at least 3 arrows before making adjustments to your sight. This will ensure that arrow impact is consistent which will speed up the sighting in process.

After analyzing your arrow placement it’s time to start making adjustments.  Unlike sighting in a rifle, where the sights are moved in the opposite direction of bullet impact, bow sight pins will follow arrow impact. In other words, an arrow that is impacting low of the target spot will require the sight pin to be moved down in the same direction as the arrow. Likewise, an arrow that impacts left of the target spot will require the pin to be moved to the left. An arrow impacting right of center will require the sight to be moved to the right. Always FOLLOW the arrow with the sight pin when making adjustments.

When adjusting your sight pins it is important to go in small increments to avoid over shooting your intended placement.  Once your arrow is impacting close to the bulls eye at 10 yards you can then step back to 20 yards and continue sighting in with the same pin.  Most archers designate their top pin for 20 yards as that is the most common distance shots occur while in the field.  Repeat the process of shooting 3 arrows and adjusting your sight pin until you are consistently hitting your aiming point.

If you are shooting a multi-pin sight you can now continue sighting in the rest of your pins.  Most archers elect to position their pins 10 yard increments. For example 20, 30, and 40 yards. The more pins you have the greater the distances you can sight them in for.

Now that your bow is properly sighted in you can continue shooting until you become proficient with your archery equipment.  Then, and only then, can you take to the field in pursuit of live animals.


  1. Seth Blanchard says:

    Im shooting a Bowtech CarbonKnight. It is sighted in at 20 and 30 yards, ( I won’t be shooting over 30), with my field tips. The arrows I am shooting are Goldtip’s Rogue at 400 spine with a Muzzy MX3 fixed blade, 100 gr, broadhead. My bow is dead on with my field tips but when i shoot my braodheads, I shoot about 1 foot to the left. Any help?

    • Ryan Wilson says:

      Not to ask a silly question, but to verify, you are shooting 100gr field tips as well? And same arrows?

      • Typically yes, you will shoot a field point that’s the same weight as your broadhead on the same arrows.

        • Ryan Wilson says:

          I should have direct replied to the Original question, I was asking Seth if he was using the same grain field points and arrows, trying to help him with his problem of shooting off to the left. Thank you for the reply though Justin 🙂

  2. Seth Blanchard says:

    I am shooting a Bowtech Carbon Knight which is sighted in at 20 and 30 yards. I am deadly accurate with my field tips, but when i shoot my broad heads, I’m about one foot to the left. I am shooting Muzzy MX3 fixed blade 100 gr braodheads. Any help?

    • Ryan Wilson says:

      Now that I noticed that you can direct reply, are you using the same grain and same arrows going from your field points to your broad heads?

      • Seth blanchard says:

        Yes. Both are 100 grain. I switched to NAP Killzone about two days ago and they are shooting great. Appreciate the help though!

  3. Mike Cromell says:

    Try switching to a Natty broached broadhead. Their adjustable between 97-104 grain. Their field tips are fletched for better accuracy. Thanks and good luck


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