A Step by Step Guide on How to Sight In a Bow

Bow hunting is challenging, yet fun and rewarding at the same time. There’s a lot of preparation and practice required to become a successful bow hunter. If you’re expecting to shoot with a bow for the first time ever and hit the target accurately, then you might be in for a rude shock. It requires a lot of regular practice to shoot accurately with a bow.

When using a bow, the main goal is getting an arrow hit the spot you’re targeting. However, this is not something easy to do. Sights come in handy to assist a shooter to hit the center of a target. Sights are available in different designs and styles. A typical sight features pins that assist in better aiming for more accurate shots and consistency. Read on for more details regarding types of bow sights and how to sight in a bow.

Types of Bow Sights

It’s important to know more about different types of bow sights. That way, you’ll know the right type of sight to use with your bow. The different types of bow sights available today include:

1. Fixed Pin Sights

Fixed pin sights have a multiple number of pins. Most fixed pin sights have three, four, or five pins. You can also find a fixed pin sight with as many as seven or nine pins. Basically, the top most pin is ideal for close-range shooting whereas the bottom-most pin is ideal for long-range shooting. Each pin should be set properly before real-life hunting. Adjustment is done in terms of yard increments. Each hunting situation requires a certain yard setting.

2. Moveable/Single Pin Bow Sights

A moveable bow sight, also known as a single pin sight, comes with one pin. It’s adjusted by moving the entire housing upward or downward. It’s ideal for use by intermediate and advanced shooters. Moveable sights are often preferred for their clearer view since they only have a single pin in the line of sight. You can adjust the sight depending on the current distance between you and the target.

3. Treestand/Pendulum Sights

Treestand sights, also known as pendulum sights, are ideal for hunters who prefer hunting from the top of a treestand. Hunting from a treestand requires you to aim at a target that is on the ground surface. In this case, standard sights are not effective. A treestand sight is specially designed for aiming from an elevated area or an area with uneven terrain. The sight features a pin that is attached to a pendulum. The pin swings out, thereby increasing accuracy from an elevated angle.

4. Competition/Target Bow Sights

Competition bow sights are also known as target sights. They’re specially designed for competition purposes rather than hunting. If you love target shooting competition as a sport or for fun with your peers, this is the right sight for you. They have several micro-adjustments for the best accuracy. They’re also designed for enhanced accuracy in harsh weather. However, they’re very pricey and not ideal for bow hunting.

5. Digital Bow Sights

Digital bow sights are relatively new in the market. They’re often more expensive than fixed and single pin sights. They use projected light dots or crosshairs rather than pins. Thus, they’re able to give a shooter a clearer view than sights with pins. Some of them come with a range fielder that assists in determining the distance between you and the target automatically. They’re ideal for veteran bow shooters and not the best for a starter due to their pricey nature.

Steps on How to Sight In a Bow

It’s important to learn how to sight your bow properly before you head out to the woods to hunt. Sighting your bow the right way will assist you to aim and shoot more accurately such that you can put the target animal down quickly. Depending on your skills and expertise, sighting a new bow sight may take several minutes. It takes practice to learn how to sight faster. Here’re some steps that will guide you through the process of sighting a bow.

Step 1: Mount the sight

The first step is to mount your new sight to your bow. Most sights come with instructions on proper mounting. Typically, a sight is attached to the bow riser and secured in place with the help of screws. Most bows come with pre-drilled holes on which you can attach a sight. When mounting the sight, avoid over-tightening the screws since you may damage your bow. When mounting the sight, ensure the pins are lined vertically to the bowstring. Also, ensure the sight is mounted at an angle of 90 degrees to the bow.

Step 2: Set the pin adjustments

Next, set each sight pin adjustment to the middle position. Doing so will allow for enough room to make adjustments easily. You may need a set of Allen keys to adjust the pins. If your bow sight didn’t come with Allen keys, then you may need to get some from your local hardware store.

Step 3: Setting up the target

You can now configure your target and mark several ranges. Preferably, mark rangers after every 10 yards. Mark a total of 40 yards at most. You can enhance the accuracy of marking the ranges by using a range finder. Ensure the target you’re using will be able to take several shots from the kind of bow and arrows you’re using.

Step 4: Check your bow

Before shooting with your bow, it’s important to check it for any loose parts. Making accurate shots requires consistency. If your bow has loose parts, then you’ll be unable to make consistent shots. Loose parts will make every shot different from the other such that you’ll find it challenging to sight your bow. Wiggle different components and tighten any part that feels loose. Also, ensure your arrows are in the best shape and not damaged.

Step 5: Getting the right posture

Your posture will also determine your consistency and accuracy. You need to maintain the same posture for each shot. When getting your posture, stand straight in such a way that your feet are positioned perpendicular to the rest of your body. Hold your bow similarly for each shot. Look through the sight in a similar way for every shot. Maintain a consistent anchor point for the best results.

Step 6: Sighting at 20 yards

Each pin is usually designed for aiming at a target from a specific yardage. For instance, the first pin is meant for aiming 20 yards away from a target. If you’re using a sight with three pins, the first sight is for aiming at 20 yards, the second pin is for aiming at 30 yards, and the third pin is for aiming at 40 yards.

First, sight the first pin, which is a distance of 20 yards. To do this, move as close as possible to the target. Preferably, move to the 10 yards marking you made away from the target. Get your posture as explained in the previous step. Next, draw your arrow with the bow. Look through the sight at the topmost pin and aim at the target. Once done, release the arrow towards the target. Repeat the process with more arrows.

Note the spot where multiple arrows have hit on the target. In case the arrows go above the spot that the pin indicated, adjust the sight up upward. Repeat this step until the arrows hit where the pin is indicating.

Next, step back until you’re 20 yards away from the target. Sight again according to the instructions already mentioned in this step. Make adjustments until the arrows hit the point indicated by the pin. Also, make adjustments until the arrows hit the center of the target such that they’re not going either far right or left by adjusting the sight rightward or leftward as needed.

Step 7: Sighting at 30 yards

Once the top pin is accurately set at 20 yards, move behind to the 30 yards marking you made. Remember to maintain your initial posture and anchor point. Next, aim down using the second pin. Shoot some arrows at the target. Adjust the sight like you did when sighting at 20 yards in the previous step until the shots are accurate enough.

Step 8: Sighting at 40 yards

Next, move back again to the 40 yards marking you made away from the target. Again, make the same posture as you did when sighting at 20 and 30 yards. Look down at the third pin and shoot several arrows. This time round, make adjustments by moving the pin itself and not the entire sight like you did when sighting at 20 and 30 yards. If you want to adjust the right and left sight placement, you’ll need to go back to the 30 yards marking to start the adjustments from there and then move back to 40 yards.

Step 9: Recheck your sight at 20 yards

Next, go back to the 20 yards marking and make some shots. If there’s some inaccuracy, adjust the first pin only rather than the entire sight.

Step 10: Adjust any other pins

If your sight has more than 3 pins, move backward every 10 yards for every additional pin. For instance, sight the fourth pin by moving back to 50 yards and sight the fifth pin by moving back to 60 yards. Continue doing the same until you sight all the pins while making the necessary pin adjustments.


Sighting your bow properly for more accurate and consistent shots is all about practice. It’s not something you can perfect by a single practice session. It’s something you need to practice severally until your group shots become smaller. Also, ensure you practice with a durable target since you’ll need to make dozens of shots before perfecting. Also, remember to choose the right bow sight for your shooting needs.

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