When the bow and arrow first came about, it would take a great deal of skill and practice to become accurate with it, especially at long range. This was due to the materials available at the time which made shooting the bow consistently rather challenging, but modern materials and shooting aids ensure that whether you’re a beginner or an experienced archer, your bow is as consistent and accurate as reasonably possible. One of the most popular shooting aids for both field archery and bowhunting are sights/scopes. These magnifying devices are invaluable to an archer but they need to be maintained and adjusted in order to function directly. This being said, let’s have a look at how to adjust bow sight units and why it’s important to do so.
Why Is It Important to Adjust Your Bow Sight?
Before we get into how to adjust bow sight units, it’s important to understand what sights are, how they work, and why it’s important to adjust your bow sight. A sight functions as a combination of two things, namely, a rudimentary range finder and/or a means of slight magnification while you’re focused on your target or game.
Your sight attaches to the frame of a bow and arrow and/or crossbow the same way that a scope would be attached to the frame of a rifle. This being said, just as having a rifle scope that hasn’t been calibrated correctly would affect your accuracy – and, more importantly, the consistency of your performance – the same happens if your bow scope is not adjusted.
The saying goes that while accuracy is hitting the target once, precision is being able to hit your mark repeatedly, and precision is the trait that sets good archers and great archers apart. Precision is achieved through repetition, and if you’re practicing long-range shots with a scope that hasn’t been adjusted, your shots will be inconsistent.
The good news is that usually, when you purchase your bow, someone will help you set up your scope and even your weights if you’ve decided to go with a bow kit that comes with these additions. However, when maintaining your bow (changing your cams and bowstring) you will need to know how to adjust your scope too.
Adjusting your scope is a pretty straightforward process and you don’t need any specialized tools to go about it either. Most (if not all) bow scopes can be adjusted with a simple Allen wrench in addition to some elbow grease know-how. This being said, if you don’t know what you’re doing you could end up making the problem worse.
How to Adjust Your Bow Sight Correctly
As we mentioned previously, adjusting compound bow sight mechanisms (or any sights) is a fairly simple process, but it’s important that you take your time to ensure that you get your calibration right the first time. Failing to do so can result in poor accuracy, and it can be really frustrating to repeat the process again and again.
Acquire a Baseline
This might sound super technical but all it means is shooting a couple of arrows to establish what you’re working with in terms of bow accuracy. You can do this by firing three arrows into a target of your choice, making sure to get the arrows as close together as possible. Feel free to stand at the range that is most comfortable for you and will give you a good feel for your bow.
You might be asking yourself why you need to fire three arrows instead of one. The idea here is to ensure that you’ve eliminated the chance of a bad shot as far as possible, as you’re likely to get at least two out of the tree close to your intended mark. Once you’re happy with your arrow placement, it’s time to get to adjusting your sights.
Begin Your Adjustment Process
Adjusting compound bow sight mechanisms is pretty easy, and since these are the most likely bows to have sights attached to them thanks to the distance, they’re capable of firing, this is the type of sight we’ll be showing you how to adjust. As we mentioned previously you will need an Allen wrench to manipulate the adjustment mechanism.
Bow sight adjustment involves calibrating the horizontal and vertical axis of your sights until they line up with the arrow grouping you laid out earlier. You’re going to want to start with the horizontal axis first as it’s the easiest to line up, especially if you’ve never done it before. All that you need to do is adjust the sights on the horizontal plain until they eclipse the shots you’ve fired previously.
The trick is to make incremental adjustments to ensure the most accurate calibration. Horizontal sight adjustment assists you with “centering” your shot, whereas the vertical adjustment on a scope tends to give you a better idea of the distance you’ll be intending to shoot. Both are fairly easy to do and only require some patience and a keen eye.
your target the greater you will need to adjust your scope due to the difference in perspective. Once you’re happy with the job you’ve done with your horizontal calibration it’s time to do your vertical one, which is done in pretty much the same way as the horizontal one.
Some sights have multiple vertical indicators on them to indicate distances. There are usually three dots running vertically in sequence, with the bottom one indicating the furthest distance, the middle indicating 10 yards closer than the bottom one, and the top one indicating 10 yards closer than the middle one. Some sights with three pins can also indicate distance in 20-yard increments.
Use your Allen wrench to adjust your sight up or down to line up with your grouped arrow slowly until you are satisfied.
Double Check Your Adjustments
You need to keep in mind that this is rarely a one-and-done adjustment. Due to the difference in perspective, you need to test your bow once you have made the aforementioned adjustments to ensure that your sight has been calibrated adequately. This might mean shooting off another three arrows and starting the process all over again, which can be frustrating.
It’s for this reason that we recommend working slowly and methodically when adjusting your sights, as failing to do so could result in you having to go back and forth repeating the test unnecessarily. How do you ensure that your adjustments are accurate then? Well, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your adjustments are true.
For starters, once you have made your initial adjustment to the sights you should shoot off another group of arrows to see if there are any improvements to your accuracy. Remember that the goal here is to be as consistent as possible, so if your groupings are close together and going exactly where you’re aiming you should be good.
If not, all you need to do is fine-tune the initial adjustments you made, preferably at the same range, so they make your shots a bit more accurate. This can be frustrating, but it’s well worth it considering that you’ll now be able to shoot more accurately and more consistently using your sight regardless of the distance you’re working with.
Ensure That Your Bow Is Unobstructed
This might seem silly, but it’s pretty easy to get so caught up in calibrating your sight that you completely forget that it’s attached to a bow. This can happen if you’re looking to shoot further using your sight, but it has reached its bottom indicator limit.
The easiest way to remedy this is to simply loosen the bracket attaching the sight to the bow and lower it a bit to change the perspective of the sight.
Making this bow sight adjustment is easy, but it could result in you creating an unforeseen obstruction for the shaft or fletching of your arrow. This raises the question, what do you do if lowering your scope becomes a problem while shooting or lining up your shot? Well, the obvious solution is to either get an adaptor bracket or a different scope.
However, there is another solution. Like when using a single pin sight, you could use sight tape to mark the various distances you’ll be engaging at once you begin shooting. You can buy sight tape or make some yourself, so it’s a cheap and effective solution, especially if you’re using a sight with only a single pin.
Now that you know why adjusting your bow’s sight is important, how to sight in a bow, and how to ensure that your calibrations are accurate once your sight has been adjusted, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to work patiently and methodically when sighting in a bow to ensure the best results when shooting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Bows Have Sights?
Generally speaking, any bow that is capable of shooting arrows over long distances will be equipped with or have the potential to be equipped with a sight. Sights are used to improve precision and accuracy and need to be kept calibrated to achieve the best results.
What Distances to Sight in a Bow?
Wondering how to sight in a bow but don’t know what you’re dealing with? Each pin usually indicates an increment of 10 or 20 yards, with the bottom pin indicating the furthest distance and the topmost pin indicating the nearest. Use the knobs or Allen key to adjust each pin.
Did Ancient Bows Have Sights?
When it comes down to it, sights are pretty rudimentary. All they do is indicate distance from the perspective of the user, so while it would have been possible for ancient archers to fabricate and use these devices, they were not widely used until the 1900s.