What should you do when your arrows consistently hit the same place, but not where you aim? Move your sight.
Whether you’re popping balloons at 10 yards or shooting tournaments at 70 meters, you need to know how to adjust your sight to hit your target. Let’s discuss how to dial in your sight to pack your arrows into the middle.
Determine your sight-in distance. If you’re using a multi-pin sight, start with your closest distance. For most, this will be 20 yards. If you just installed your sight, start close to the target to dial in your sight before moving back.
Shoot three arrows with good form, so they hit the same area, which is called a “group.” If your three-arrow group isn’t where you aimed, move your sight toward the group. For example, if your three arrows grouped left, move your sight-pin left. If all three arrows hit high, raise your sight.
Sighting in a Multi-Pin Sight
A multi-pin sight has three main adjustments. You can move the sight housing up, down, left and right. You can also move the sight pins up and down.
Use your top pin for the closest distance, and the bottom pin for the farthest distance. Sight in your top pin first, which is 20 yards for most people, but you should start at 10 yards.
Shoot three arrows, and then loosen the screw that lets you move the sight housing left and right. Move the sight housing toward the group. Shoot three more arrows to check your adjustment, and move the housing again if necessary. Next, move your pin up or down until your group hits where you aimed. The top pin should stay in the upper third of your sight housing. If you run out of room to move your pin, loosen the screw that lets you move the sight housing up and down. Adjust the housing, and then fine-tune the sight by moving your pin.
Move to 25 yards, aim with your 20-yard pin, and shoot another three-arrow group. If you see no significant drop, move to 30 yards. Shoot a group and move your second pin up or down until your arrows hit where you aim. Continue this process for the other pins.
Sighting in a Single-Pin Sight
To sight in a scope or a moveable single-pin sight, start at 10 yards and shoot a group. These sights have two adjustments: windage, which moves the pin left or right; and elevation, which slides the pin up or down. Move your sight toward your group until your arrows hit where you aim. If you exceed the windage adjustment range, you can usually loosen a screw so you can slide your pin far left or right.
How you proceed depends on the type of archery you shoot. Are you shooting one distance for target archery? Are you shooting several distances for 3D or field?
If you shoot one distance, slowly work your way there while making adjustments as you go. These adjustments don’t have to perfect. They just keep you on target as you reach your desired distance. Once there, fine-tune by inching the sight in the direction you want to hit.
To shoot multiple distances with a one-pin “slider” sight, you’ll need a sight tape. Sight tapes stick to the side of your sight, and have markings for various distances. You can print out sight tapes, buy them from an archery shop, or mark a blank tape with a pen. If using a factory-printed sight tape, you first sight in your pin at 20 yards and 40 yards. Using those two marks, match them to printed tapes to determine which tape works for your bow. Stick that tape to your sight and test its alignment to ensure it’s accurate.
If you reach the bottom of your sight adjustment but want to shoot farther, try lowering the entire sight bracket. These brackets can usually be removed, lowered and reinstalled so you can lower the sight pin to take farther shots. However, it can cause clearance problems if you move it into the arrow’s path.
To test for clearance, put your arrow on the rest with its fletching forward. Hold the arrow level, as if you could shoot it, to see if the fletching touches the sights or scope. If your sight has an adjustable extension, bring it all the way in, which causes higher hits.
If you get sighted in, but your arrows hit a different spot the next time you shoot, check all screws on the sight and your bow to ensure they’re tight. If nothing is loose, check your form by video-recording yourself shooting. Even better, have a coach watch you shoot to learn your inconsistencies.
If your groups hit the middle while shooting on flat ground, but move left or right on downhill shots, you’re torquing the bow or your sight’s third-axis adjustment is off. The above video discusses how to adjust your sight’s third axis.
If you need further help adjusting your sight, pros at an archery shop will gladly assist. To find a nearby shop, click here.