Why You Should Sight In A Compound Bow

Well, the answer to that question is pretty easy: Because you won’t hit where you want to without having a compound bow sighted in. With a few simple steps you can go from okay to super accurate when shooting your bow. So it’s really worth it to invest some time to make it right. As with all things in life there is no one best solution so I will concentrate on what works for most people when it comes to sighting in a compound bow.
One important note, though: Compound bows are sighted in to fit individuals. That means if I gaive you my compound that I have sighted in to fit my draw length, my draw weight and the arrows I use together with my bow, you wouldn’t be able to hit the spot as well as I would as we all are different – if you could hit it at all! So please remember that when you give your bow to someone else for testing.
Before starting the process of sighting in a compound bow you should line up the bowstring with the pins of the sight vertically. Doing so will spare you some arrows when sighting in the compound later at the range because it makes sure that they won’t be off too much. If you are missing the target by four feet arrows can get lost pretty quickly.
For lining everything up you want to nock an arrow in. Now line the bowstring up with the center of the arrow and the sight. You don’t have to draw the string back for doing so. If the pins are not exactly on the string like in the image below you need to adjust the sight accordingly.
how to sight a compound bow in

Apart from that the sight should be in a right angle to the bow. Don’t overtighten the screws that attach it to the riser or you might damage your compound or the sight. If you have bought a sight and attached it, let it settle over night. Maybe you have to tighten it further the next day. You will also set all sighting pin adjustments to the mid point as this will give you maximum room for adjustments in either direction. For adjusting pins and sight you need an Allen wrench. These are usually included with the compound or the sight.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is to always keep proper form (stance, anchor point, grip etc.) while sighting your compound in for getting consistent and accurate results. And always shoot a group of arrows (4 – 5) to eliminate stuff like bad form, wind, wobble, distance error, bow camber or grip vault. These things can happen, so don’t rely on just one shot.

How To Zero A Compound Bow

Start with a distance of 10 yards as the odds of missing are reduced at this distance compared to larger ones. Shoot a few arrows aiming with the top pin (actually it’s peep sight – sight – top pin – target) and look at the target. A rule of thumb is – when it comes to sighting in a compound – to follow your arrows. This means that if you shoot to the right and below the spot you need to adjust the whole sight accordingly. Start with one axis. If you are off to the right, set the whole sight farther to the right, test, then go for the vertical axis or vice versa.
compound bow aiming
Now increase the distance to 20 yards (which is the most critical distance for bowhunting, by the way). That’s why you want to zero your compound at this distance (if you are into bowhunting). It makes no sense to add another pin for 10 yards as the spread between those two would be not very big. Shoot a few arrows and look at the target. You should expect that the arrows will drop a bit as the distance is larger than before. Follow your arrows and adjust the whole sight if needed. If you hit consistently where you want to, you have successfully zeroed your bow at 20 yards.
From this point on you don’t have to adjust the whole sight when following your arrows for larger distances. You only have to adjust the single pins but the process is the same (shoot a few arrows, look at the target, adjust the pin). That means the top pin is zeroed at 20 yards, the next could be used for 25 or 30, the next for 35 or 40 etc. Just remember that especially for bowhunting you don’t want to shoot from a distance too far away as you want to hit the game where it counts most (vital organs) to take it in a humane way. This won’t be possible at distances greater than 25 or 30 yards most of the time, so keep that in mind.
You could also zero the bow in at 30 yards on the second pin while using the top pin for 20 yards and the third and fourth etc. for larger distances, but that depends on your personal goal and skills. If you are just starting out I would suggest you zero in at 20 yards with your top pin like I have described above.
Generally speaking, the spread between the individual pins gets bigger the larger the distances are or the slower the compound is.
If you are shooting with a mounted quiver you should also sight the compound in with one installed (fully loaded) as the bow will be more weighted to the side.

Getting A Sight Tape From A Bow Shop

You also could go to a professional shop to get a sight tape to save some time later when sighting your compound in. To get one they will measure the following things:

  • Peep length: the distance from the center of the peep sight to the pins of the sight at full draw.
  • Peep height: the length from the center of the arrow shaft to the center of the peep sight at full draw.
  • Length and weight of your arrows.
  • Shooting speed (fps) of the compound with your arrows and settings. They usually have a chronograph to measure it (you will have to shoot a few arrows to get the average speed of your compound).

After getting the data they will enter it into a software program (Archer’s Advantage, for example) which will generate a sight tape. You can print it out, then cut it out and hold it beside the pins of the bow’s sight and set the pins to match the marks on the paper.
All you have to do now is to zero in the top pin at let’s say 20 yards. Remember that you have to adjust the whole sight while following your arrows. After you have done that, you are done.
I hope I was able to show you that sighting in a compound is not that hard to do and that the time spent is well invested as you will get much better results and tighter groupings consistently, which is worth a lot as it will keep your motivation high.
Thanks for reading and shoot straight!

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