How to Sight In a Compound Bow

Although some traditional archers choose to shoot “bare bows” by sighting instinctually and, those who do so are often very successful at it, most compound bow shooters prefer to outfit their modern, new, compound bows with all types of accessories such as stabilizers, fancy arrow rests and, of course, adjustable, fiber optic, bow sights in an effort to maximize accuracy and shot placement and minimize lost game.

If you are new to the sport of archery, sighting in your new compound bow can be a bit tricky unless you understand the basic concepts.

For instance, first you absolutely must learn to draw the arrow’s nock to the same point each time or your point of impact will vary widely regardless of how much you practice.

Also, if you want to raise the point of your arrow’s impact, then you need to raise the bow’s riser and, if you want lower the point of impact, then you need to lower the bow’s riser and, the same goes for moving the point of impact left or right.

Last, you must learn to hold the bow absolutely still as you release the arrow and continue to do so until well after it has left the riser or your accuracy will suffer.

But, once you understand these basic concepts, sighting in a compound bow is not really all that difficult.

Of course, the first step to sighting in your compound bow is to make certain that it is set up correctly.

You should first make certain that the arrow rest is set in a position where the arrow’s shaft is parallel to the sight window and that the arrow’s nock is set 1/4 to 1/2 inch above level.

Then, once you have determined that your bow is correctly set up, the next step is to choose a designated place to draw the arrow’s nock to each time which is called an “anchor point”.

Most archers prefer to have an anchor point that they can physically touch, they most often choose a point somewhere on their chin or their cheek which, once learned, becomes very easy to find each time the bow is drawn.

There is an aiming aide available called a “peep sight” which is inserted in between the strands of the bow string and then moved up or down to move the anchor point and change the point of impact.

By using a peep sight, not only can the archer look through the center of the bow string, they can also choose an anchor point that does not touch the chin or cheek.

Because moving the anchor point up or down changes the point of impact, you absolutely must decide upon an anchor point and stick with it before attempting to set the bow sight!

Then, once you have decided upon an anchor point and have practiced drawing the bow often enough without actually shooting it to learn where your anchor point is, then you can proceed to setting the sight pins in their correct position.

The first step to actually sighing in your compound bow is to position yourself five to ten yards from your target, then nock an arrow, then draw your bow, and then place your top sight pin on your intended point of impact and release the bow string.

If your arrow strikes the target above your intended point of impact, then you need to raise either the sight pin or the sight body.

But, if your arrow strikes the target below your intended point of impact, then you need to lower the sight pin or sight body and, you will need to continue moving the sight pin up or down and left or right until your intended point of impact and your sight pin line up.

Also, it should be noted that the same is true if your arrow strikes left or right of the intended point of impact in that you need to chase the arrow with the sight pin.

Most archers choose to set their top sight pin for a distance of twenty yards (once set correctly, a 20-yard pin tends to work rather well for any distance from 20 yards to 5 yards).

You will need to measure that distance along the ground and then position yourself at that distance from the target and then, you can work on fine tuning the position of your top sight pin until the arrow strikes the target where you aim it.

You should set your next pin down for thirty yards, the third one down for forty yards and the forth one down for 50 yards.

The fifth one down for sixty yards using the same process as described for setting the twenty-yard sight pin by shooting your bow from each distance respectively.

Last, it is important to be aware that changing arrow shaft weights, field point weights, and/or broadhead weights will also change your arrow’s point of impact. Doing so may also require you reset your sight pins.

Be aware that gravity starts to act upon your arrow the moment it leaves the bow’s riser, an archer must aim their arrow above their intended point of impact so that it will have an arched flight path in order to cause to strike the target at the intended point.

Using a lighter arrow shaft, field point, or broadhead will lessen the overall weight of the arrow and cause it to strike the target a bit higher whereas, a using a heavier arrow shaft, field point, or broadhead will increase the overall weight of the arrow and cause it to strike the target a bit lower.

Consequently, when changing arrow shafts, field points, or broadheads, it may be necessary to reset one or more of your sight pins to compensate for the change in overall arrow weight.

Although the process of sighting in a compound bow can seem a bit intimidating to the beginning archer, the key to comprehending the process is to understand the basic concepts of choosing an anchor point and then chasing the arrow’s point of impact with the sight pins until the two line up.

Once you understand that, the rest is really just a matter of practice so that you learn to hold the bow steady and then follow through after the shot so that your arrow is not adversely affected by inadvertent movement of the bow’s riser and, with a little practice, most people can become very proficient archers.