Sighting in a Compound Bow

Non-hunters often believe one can simply pick up a compound bow and fire accurately at a target without any practice or sighting in of the new bow first. One can blame TV or movies about hunting for this misconception.

By sighting in a compound bow ahead of using it for a hunt, this greatly increases the likelihood of hitting either a paper target or the prey. A sighting in process revolves around adjusting the amount of arrow drop due to gravity as it covers a distance. Any unexpected disruptions experienced when going through the firing motion that alter targeting outcomes are also factored in here too. As you can probably tell, sighting in a compound bow is a necessary part of the post-purchase setup process.

How to Sight in A Compound Bow

The setup procedure is fairly similar whether you have a 3-pin sight, a 4-pin sight or a fixed pin sight that has 5 pins. Any decent peep sight is sighted in successfully when following the procedure laid out below:

1/ Mount the Sight to the Bow

The first thing to do is mount the sight. The instructions for the sight must be followed correctly to ensure it is mounted properly on the compound bow. In most cases, bow sights get mounted on the riser using a few screws to keep it in place.

There are single adjustable pins and multiple fixed pins. The better compound bows have holes already drilled to attach sights to them. Make sure that the screws aren’t made too tight because this could damage the sight. The sight pins have to be positioned in the vertical position to function properly. The bow sight goes in at a right-angle to the compound bow.

Tip: Don’t tighten the screws too much. Leave the sight fitted overnight, then re-tighten them more the next day.

2/ Set the Sighting Pins Properly

Once the sight has been properly mounted on the bow, the pin adjustments need to be moved to the center. From there, adjustments are easier to perform to move the sighting up or down, and left or right. An Allen wrench is usually required to adjust the sighting pins correctly.

3/ Mark the Target and Selective Ranges

It’s typical for shooters to mark ranges at 10 yards/9.1 meters spacing. A ranger finder is a good idea to increase the accuracy.

Buy a better target that is able to handle multiple arrows striking it during the testing phase. Properly sighting in a compound bow is done over several periods with many arrows being fired to ensure accuracy.

4/ Start With the 20 Yard Position

Walk towards the target out to 20 yards. Position your body at a right-angle with the target and draw a single arrow into firing-ready position. Look down the sight and release the arrow when ready while looking at the top-most pin. Do this again with a couple of extra arrows just for good measure.

Take a look at the place where the arrows strike compared to the sight. The sight box needs to move up if the arrows hit above the target. This process should be repeated until the arrow is no longer hitting higher than the top pin.

Return to the 20-yard position and re-sight once more. See how the sight box is level with the top pin. Double-check this issue is fixed. With the height managed, it is now time to look at whether the arrows are veering too much to the left or right. The sight must be moved across left or right to fix this issue.

One shouldn’t expect perfect accuracy.

5/ The 2nd Pin and the 30 Yard Position

Once you have some level of confidence that the top pin is properly sighted in at the 20-yard range, it is time to look at the second pin which is used for the 30-yard distance. Using the second, aiming through the sight and fire two arrows at the target. Make the same changes as previously actioned on the first pin to more accurately sight in the second pin from the top.

The sight box moves with each adjustment. The 30-yard, the 2nd pin will get more accurate as you test fire more.

6/ The 3rd Pin and the 40 Yard Position

Now, look at the third pin aiming through the sight at the 40-yard position. Fire off several arrows to the 40-yard target. When changing the pin sighting, only move the pin, not the whole sight box. Focus on the direction of travel vs the direction of the pin.

Where there is an issue with being too left or right of the target, return to the 30-yard position to test fire again and adjust the sight box accordingly.

7/ Checking the 20-yard Again

It is at this stage that the 20-yard firing distance needs rechecking. Once both the 40-yard and 30-yard seem correctly sighted in, return to the 20-yard range to fire some more arrows. When making adjustments, only move the pin, not the whole sight box this time.

8/ Sight in Any Other Pins

Should there be additional pins like a 4th pin or a fixed pin, then sight these in too. The 4th pin is a 50-yard only pin. Only move that pin to make minor adjustments at this distance.

Once these steps have been followed properly, your compound bow will be correctly sighted in.