We’ve all been in the situation of having to sight in a bow with a brand new sight on it. It can prove to be frustrating and time consuming. The main reason for this is most people approach it the wrong way. I, myself, have spent a lot of time running down range to retrieve my shotgun pattern of arrows wondering which were the bad shots and which were good. Arrows can be lost just trying to “get on paper”. Here is an easier, less frustrating method that hopefully will get you on the target with your first shot and sighted in quickly.
Let me begin by explaining some basics just in case we have new archers reading this. When sighting in a bow remember the “FOLLOW THE ARROW” rule. If your arrow hits high, you move your sight or sight pin up and vice versa. This is your YARDAGE. If your arrow hits to the right of your desired impact point you move your entire sight to the right and vice versa. This is your WINDAGE. Make both these moves in small increments.
To begin with, let’s get our WINDAGE (lefts and rights) close. To do this put your bow in a bow vise, if you have one, or simply rest your bottom cam on your hip while holding the bow out at arms length. Look up and down the string in relation to the limbs, riser and cams to make sure it’s somewhat centered. Set your sight pins so that they are centered on or just to the left of the bowstring for a right handed shooter. This should make sure your lefts and rights are in the ballpark.
Next, let’s increase our chances of actually hitting the target bale the first time we shoot at it. Nothing is more disheartening than losing your very first arrow as it flies over the target or buries in the ground in front of it. Believe me, I stress out every time my neighbor mows the hay field behind my house. The hay field that is directly behind my targets. “Wow! And this guy is giving ME advice?” Hey! I had to lose hundreds of dollars worth of arrows in order to keep you from losing any! Ok, back on topic. Start by stacking and centering all your pins within your sight housing. Now, stand no more than 5 yards from your target and shoot an arrow at a spot. At this range, you’ll want to sight in using your 30 or, most likely, 40 yard pin. Don’t move the pins themselves. Gang adjust the entire sight housing using the FOLLOW THE ARROW rule. Again, at this close range you’ll want to use the 2nd or 3rd pin from the top of your sight. Sight in until you’re on the money with that pin.
Let’s head out and get sighted in.
Sighting in your bow can turn into a frustrating, tiring process if we let it. The main reason for this is we tend to put up a small diameter spot to shoot at. AIM SMALL, MISS SMALL. The problem is we are trying to hold on this small spot left and right AND up and down at the same time. We might be in line with the dot, but 3 or 4 inches high on a couple of arrows and perfect on a horizontal line, but left a few inches left on another arrow in the same group. We’re not sure which are the good arrows and which are the bad, so we run down, grab the arrows and do it again. Pretty soon we are fatigued, aggravated and scattering arrows everywhere.
A very simple solution to this is electrical tape (or when your eyes get to the point that mine are, duct tape). Put a horizontal line of tape across your target as your aiming point. You no longer have to worry about holding your bow steady left or right, you simple aim at the line to adjust your yardage pins. You will be surprised how much easier and less stressful this makes sighting in, especially at longer yardages. Sight in all your yardage pins using this method.
Now that your pins are set, place a vertical line of tape on the target (or simply set your target with the horizontal line on its side. It took me weeks to come up with this solution), and set your WINDAGE. Since your pins are already sighted in, you should only have to set windage with your closest yardage pin and your furthest. If you can’t get the WINDAGE to match at those two ranges, Try setting it at the furthest and then moving back up to the closest. If it still doesn’t match up, you may have to move your rest slightly. By slightly, I’m talking 1/16 of an inch at a time. Don’t go crazy. YOU WILL MOVE THE REST IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT THE ARROW TO GO WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF HOW YOU’VE BEEN MOVING YOUR SIGHT. DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THIS! (Pun un-intended). Don’t be afraid to make reference marks on your equipment to keep track of your moves. Especially after you have it tuned up and shooting well.
Take the work out of sighting in your bow so you can get to practicing for the season. Speaking of which, hunting season is only about 3 months away for a lot of people. How much time do you have to shoot your bow each week? Two times? You only have about 24 practice sessions, weather and life permitting, to get ready. The experts say that to just MAINTAIN your level of competency you have to practice at your sport (any sport) 4 days a week. Think about that.
Fling some arrows and above all HAVE FUN DOING IT!
This is excellent advice explained succinctly and clearly. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience.
Once the arrows are not hitting above the top pin, you can make adjustments for arrows going too far left or right by moving the sight left and right respectively.