One thing that provides a challenge to new archery hunters and bow shooters is sighting in their compound bow.
Now, sighting in a compound bow is not particularly difficult, it is just backward of what people are used to when sighting in a rifle with open sights.
It is also a little more complex and time-consuming than sighting in a rifle since you have multiple adjustments that will achieve similar results and you have to zero several pins if you have a multi-pin sight.
This article will walk you through the steps of sighting in your compound bow with a multi-pin sight.
5 Steps to Follow
1. Make Sure Your Bow is Tuned
Just because you are able to shoot a good group at 30 yards with your bow does not mean you are getting optimum arrow flight and performance out of your bow. To achieve that, you will want to make sure your bow is tuned.
The multiple methods of bow-tuning represent a long discussion that deserves its own article, but with a little research or by visiting your local archery pro-shop you should have no problem getting dialed in.
Oftentimes, some tuning in advance of sighting-in will be ideal, followed by a little fine-tuning and re-sighting in once you have things pretty dialed.
The process of making your bow as accurate as possible requires multiple steps, time and some redundancy.
2. Adjust Your Sight Housing at 10 and 20 Yards
What ranges you set your sight pins at is a matter of personal preference and how far you feel you are likely to shoot based on situation and competency.
A popular three-pin configuration is to have 20, 30 and 40-yard pins. Many hunters will continue on to have 50 and 60-yard pins, and some prefer to have their top pin be dialed in at 10 yards.
For the purpose of this article, we are going to say that your top pin will be dialed in at 20 yards. You want to start at 10 yards to make sure your bow is reasonably close to on target.
If you start at 20 yards and the bow is way high or way low, you risk sailing arrows off target.
Measure off ten yards with a tape measure or rangefinder and shoot a few arrows at the center of your target.
It is always good to start with field points when sighting in and practicing since broadheads will often cut the vanes or fletchings of your arrows and are also much harder on your target.
Observe the placement of the shot group and make vertical adjustments to the sight box to bring your group level with the bullseye. This is the part that is opposite of a rifle since the adjustment occurs on the front sight instead of by moving the peep.
If the group is high, raise the sight box to lower the point of impact. If the group is low, lower the box to raise the point of impact.
At this point do not worry about making adjustments left or right unless you think that the arrow will be off the target when you get to 30 yards. Move out to 20 yards and shoot another group of arrows with your top pin.
This group should not be too far off vertically from the 10-yard shot, but a slight adjustment to the sight box will likely be required to bring the point of impact level with the bullseye.
3. Dial in at 30 Yards
Next, you want to move back to 30 yards and repeat the process of shooting a group and adjusting for vertical accuracy.
Throughout the whole process, keep in mind that making multiple small adjustments to your sight will make the process go smoother than trying to make big adjustments.
At this point, you should also adjust the sight box left or right to bring the point of impact to the center of the target. Again, you want to “chase” the arrow.
That is, if the shots are hitting left, you want to move your sight box to the left so that the point of impact will shift right.
After you dial in your 30-yard pin you will not be moving the sight housing anymore, so make sure to get it as zeroed in as possible.
4. Set the Rest of Your Pins
After you have the sight housing dialed in at 30 yards, you can return to the top pin at 20 yards and shoot another group. This time, if vertical adjustment is needed, adjust the pin itself instead of the whole housing.
Repeat the process of adjusting each individual pin for whatever ranges you prefer. This will likely include the 40-yard pin and then a couple more distance increments after that.
Remember you do not want to make any more adjustments to the sight housing or the 30-yard pin once you have it zeroed.
5. Switching to Broadheads
If you plan on hunting with your bow and you cannot use mechanical broadheads, you will have to use fixed-blade broadheads.
Traditional broadheads are likely to expose tuning issues with your bow if you have not already resolved them.
You will want to shoot a field-point arrow followed by a broadhead arrow and see where each hits. If the broadhead hits to the right of the field point, you will want to move your rest to the left.
Just as with the sight adjustments, small adjustments are best.
Moving the arrow rest should move the broadhead point of impact closer to the field point. Adjust the rest left and right to bring the broadhead towards the field point and then do the same if a vertical adjustment is needed.
If you have difficulty bringing the two into one group, you may have to circle back to more bow-tuning to accomplish better groups between the two.
If you plan to use broadheads to hunt with, make sure you complete this step and then do some practice shooting with your hunting arrows in a broadhead-approved target.
The best advice you can follow when it comes to sighting in your compound bow is to take your time.
Whether it is hunting or shooting for fun or competition, you will never regret being careful and diligent about sighting in your bow. If you rush through the process, you may come to kick yourself after a costly miss.
In addition to taking the time to fine-tune each pin, this also means you should spread the process out over time.
Fatigue quickly becomes a factor in accuracy, so you will want to make sure you are rested whenever you are making adjustments to your sights. Spreading the process out over several days is ideal for achieving best results.