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How To Sight In A Bow : Your 7 Step Guide

close up of a bow sight on a compound bow

Sighting In A Bow

If you buy a bow and immediately use it, you’ll probably notice that your arrows end up going several inches off their marks. That’s why we’re going to teach you how to sight in a bow. It’ll make you a more consistent archer, and it’ll make it easier for you to become a great hunter or tournament shooter.

Why Should You Sight In Your Bow?

Sighting in your bow is paramount to your success. Whether you’re just shooting targets or hunting big game, you won’t be successful if you can’t hit your target consistently.

Sighting in a bow will keep your arrows on point as long as you have the ability to aim properly in the first place. Adjusting bow sights isn’t an extremely difficult task, but it can be a bit time consuming. Let’s go ahead and teach you how to sight in a compound bow.

What Will You Need?

Before you can sight in your bow, you’ll need to acquire a few things. First, you’ll need a bow. That’s an obvious requirement. However, you’ll also need the following items:

  • Allen wrench set
  • Target
  • Arrows
  • Mechanical release (optional)

The Allen wrench set will be used for adjusting bow sights, and the mechanical release can be used when you test the bow to make your shots more consistent.

Checking Your Equipment

After you’ve acquired all of the necessary equipment, you’ll want to check every piece of your bow for loose or faulty parts. Loose parts can easily move each time you fire your bow. Those small movements will make each of your shots slightly different, and that will affect your consistency as an archer.

It’s not difficult to check out your equipment, but here are the different parts that you have to check before you can learn how to sight in a bow.

  • Arrow rest
  • Sights
  • Arrow tips
  • Fletchings
  • String and sight alignment

To check your rest, sights, and arrow tips, you just have to give them a little wiggle. If they move around, you need to tighten them down. The sights and your rest can be tightened with an Allen wrench, and your arrow tips will differ depending on the brand you use.

To check the alignment of your sights and your string, you just need to take a close look as if you’re going to aim the bow. It should be fairly easy to see if they’re aligned.

Checking Your Stance

Your stance is just as important as your equipment when it comes to archery. If you change the way that you’re standing between shots, you’ll have to adjust your aim accordingly. You’ll be looking through your sights from a different angle in a lot of cases. Obviously, that’s not a good thing when you’re testing your bow. You need to be able to hold the same exact position every time you shoot your bow to make the most consistent shots possible.

Since your stance is so important for consistency and accuracy, we recommend that you carefully follow the following steps every time you take a shot while sighting in a bow.

  • Stand in a relaxed position with your back straight. Your legs should be away from each other, and your feet should point away from you at slightly different angles. How far you spread your legs and the exact angle your feet are positioned at will be dependent on your personal comfort.
  • Firmly hold your wrist in a comfortable position that you can easily replicate. You’ll want it to be in the same position every time you fire your bow.
  • Carefully draw your bow back to the same exact spot on your face every time you fire a test shot. The spot that you pull it to is your anchor. If you change your anchor, your shot will be less accurate.

When you’re test firing your bow, follow these steps for every shot, and try to stay in the exact same position every time you shoot.

Sighting In At 5, 10, And 20 Yards

This is the part where you actually learn how to sight in a compound bow. You’ll have to sight in your bow in three different stages.

If you use a mechanical release for this step, your shots will be a lot more consistent.

20-Yard Pin

Every bow sight has five-yard, ten-yard, and 20-yard pins. Some bows have pins that are for 40-yard shots, but we’re just going to focus on the three pins that all sights have.

Your 20-yard pin is probably the most important. You’ll be making a lot of your shots from 20-yards away from your target. To sight in your 20-yard pin, take a shot at your target from 20-yards away. If your arrow shoots lower than what you aimed, lower the entire sight. That’ll raise your shot’s trajectory. If it goes to the left or right, move your sight in the direction that the arrow is going in. In short, if you move your sight, the arrow will go the opposite direction.

10-Yard Pin

The 20-yard pin is the hardest to sight in when you’re first learning how to adjust bow sights. Once you’ve got it set up, you just have to make slight adjustments to the other pins.

For the ten-yard pin, you’ll want to grab a smaller Allen wrench, and then move it slightly closer to your 20-yard pin. Then take a shot, and make tiny adjustments to the ten-pin until your shots are dialed in.

Five-Yard Pin

To adjust your five-yard pin the same way you adjust your ten-yard pin. Just make small adjustments to the pin until all of your shots are lining up perfectly.

man holding a compound bow in a range getting ready to test the bow sight adjustments

Making Adjustments

When you’re first learning how to adjust bow sights, you will probably have to make a lot of small adjustments for a couple of days after you dial everything in. To ensure that your adjustments help you out, you should fire your bow from the exact same position every single time. As you get more consistent, you’ll be able to spot minor problems with your bow’s sight.

When you’re making the adjustments, do not move your pins a lot. You should figure out which pin is causing you problems, and then make tiny adjustments until your shots are perfect.

Putting It To The Test

Once you’re comfortable with your sights, you have to actually use your bow! Go out in a safe place, set up your target, and practice often. Once you learn how to sight in a bow, your shots should start to consistently hit your target.

To make yourself a more consistent shooter, you should aim at smaller targets. Don’t aim at a massive spot on your target.


Sighting in a bow is a fairly simple process. For the most part, you just have to remember to make very small adjustments instead of rushing. Make sure you have plenty of arrows with practice tips, too. They’re a little more accurate than hunting tips, and they don’t break as easily if you mess up.

Matthew Russo
Hey, my name is Matt, an avid outdoorsman, prepper and action taker. If you have found this article informative please feel free to leave a comment below and share it with your friends and family, it would make my day!

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