Hopefully if you are out there chasing whitetails somewhere across the US you have already gotten your bow dialed in, but in case you just bought a new bow/sight, or are getting a late start on your season everyone should take the time to make sure they are confident in how their bow is shooting before heading to the woods. This means making sure your sight marks are accurate for the distances intended regardless of the type of sight you are using. Depending on what kind of shooting shape you are in, this can be a frustrating process, the following blog written by our VP of Product Development, Josh Sidebottom, will help make this task a little easier.
The first important factor to consider is being honest with yourself on the level of shooter you are and how much effort you have been putting into practicing. Inconsistencies in form and anchor point can make you chase your tail while sighting in your bow. If you are picking up your bow for the first time in a year, you may realize it’s time to get back into shooting form before fine-tuning your sight. If you fall into this category I would recommend taking a few days to shoot your bow with a rough sight mark before spending time trying to get your 50-yard pin perfect. As you get more consistent with your form and anchor you will find that when you pick up your bow from one day to the next your sight marks will stay perfect. If you are struggling with your form you may find that you are “fine tuning” your sight every time you pick up your bow. This can be extremely frustrating and often times the equipment get blamed.
Make sure you read the instructions on how to sight in your specific sight as there are many different types on the market. The following information will cover 90 percent of sights available, assuming the bow is set up correctly and properly tuned.
This may sound obvious to most, but know that when you buy a new sight, a new bow, move your peep, change arrows, adjust draw weight, or adjust draw length you need to re-sight in your bow. Basically, any time you change anything on your bow you should be re-checking your sight marks. Before getting started, you should make sure when your bow is held vertical that your bubble level is in the middle. This can also be done by holding another level against a vertical surface on the bow and make sure the bubbles are centered on both. If not, you may need to adjust the first or second axis on your bow. Most sights have an adjustment to level the scope bubble to the bow. If you are shooting a sight with a bubble you should always look at that before starting to execute your shot. In a hunting scenario, it’s easy to get off balance or on uneven ground, by making sure your sight is level before taking a shot you will reduce the possibility of a left or right miss. If you make checking the level a part of your shot routine, it will become a habit and you will do it automatically.
FOLLOW YOUR ARROW. After you have read your instructions on how to adjust your sight remember that you follow your missed arrows with your sight. If you are missing to the left, move your sight to the left, if you are missing high, move your sight or pin up. These adjustments are typically referred to as your Windage (left and right) and Elevation (up and down) adjustments. Always move into your misses.
When you are shooting well and ready to set your marks, start with your top pin. This pin is used for your shortest yardage and is typically set for 20 yards. If you are sighting in a new bow or sight you can step up to 6-8 yards and start shooting there to make sure you will not miss the target. A little shortcut is knowing that on most setups somewhere around 7 yards will be equivalent to your 20-yard mark due to the crossover of the arrow through your sight path. Once you are hitting the center of the target at that distance step back to 20 to fine tune. If you are shooting a sight with adjustable pins as well as a “gang” adjustment of the pin housing you have two options for setting your top pin. I would recommend moving your top pin into the position you desire in the housing first, and adjusting the gang adjustment of the entire housing to get your top pin dialed in. This is important because if you are shooting a 5-7 pin sight and a slow setup (heavy arrow or lightweight) your pins will be further apart. If you start with your top pin in the middle of the housing you may run out of distance when you get to your 5th-7th pins and have to start over again. The more pins you are using the further up your top pin will be.
Author’s Note: For my setup, I shoot a 3-pin sight on a movable sight (CBE Tek Hybrid Pro) and I like to have my top pin in the middle of the housing, but I know at the speed I am shooting I will not have any issue fitting my 30 yard ad 40 yard pins below center.
Another tip to help expedite the process is to rough in your windage on your sight before ever firing an arrow. To do this; nock an arrow on your string and set on your rest, now holding the bow out in front of you align the front and back of your arrow with the string so you are looking right down the shaft of the arrow, now looking at your sight pin, it should be positioned (RH bow) just left of the string. Due to the dynamics of the bow when drawing and shooting an arrow the sight will rarely be in line with the string. If you adjust your sight until it is sitting 1/16” – 1/8” left of the string you will be pretty close starting out.
Author’s Note: I prefer to sight in my bow aiming at a round multi-colored target (like a Vegas face) and adjust my windage and elevation simultaneously, but others find it easier to set up a target with a vertical and horizontal line, and adjust each individually. The theory is that the archer can just focus on hitting the vertical line until the windage is set and then move onto the horizontal to dial the elevation.
Once the top pin is set, move to your next distance (typically 30 yards) and start sighting in the second pin. Once you have 2 pins sighted in you can expedite the process by eyeballing your pin gaps on your remaining pins so that as you go down your pins each gap is slightly larger than the previous.
As you move back further to sight in your longer pins you should only be having to make minor tweaks to your windage (left and right). If you find that you are shooting further and further left as you move back you may need to adjust the position of your rest to bring your centershot in. If your centershot is set properly and you did a good job setting your 20-yard mark you should just be fine-tuning your windage as you move back. Keep in mind that as you move back your windage adjustments will be magnified, so a couple clicks of your sight at 60yards may not be noticeable when you go back to 20.
Two of the most important things to keep in mind when sighting in your bow are:
- Only count the good shots
- Stop when you start getting tired.
The first is important because if a bad shot lands in the middle of the target your sight is likely not set yet. You should be able to tell the difference between a “good” and “bad” shot. Ignore the arrows that were not a good shot and adjust based only on the shots that felt right. Oftentimes shooters are content with their mark because the arrow hit the center but if the shot was not executed properly you will find the mark is not yet set.
STOP when you get tired. If you try to “push through” fatigue you will likely start making bad shots and your form will break down. If you use those shots to set your mark you will likely find that the next time you pick up your bow you are hitting differently and will be constantly adjusting your sight. In a bowhunting scenario, you typically get one shot, so the first arrow fired out of your bow is the one you want to hit its mark, not the 50th arrow of a shooting session once you get tired.
When the sight is set and you are confident in your shot, get out there and enjoy whatever form of archery you participate in.
Elite Archery VP of Product Development