Aiming a compound bow involves a peep sight, a sight housing, a level and an aiming reference (sight pin). It’s up to the archer to align each properly to ensure an accurate shot.
But how do you do that?
Let’s start with two assumptions. We’ll assume that your bow is set up properly so your peep is positioned to match your anchor. That is, you can come to anchor with your eyes closed, open your eyes, and see through your peep without moving your head. And we’ll assume that your bow is sighted in correctly. That is, your sight and pins are properly aligned so your arrows hit where you’re aiming. Our discussion here is about how to align all the aiming components on your bow for every shot.
The first step involves the peep sight tied into your bowstring. When you come to full draw and hit your anchor, you will look through your peep to find your sight housing. If the peep is set properly, you won’t even think about looking through it. It will be right where it needs to be, and your eye will simply look through it.
The sight housing is round, just like your peep. Your goal is to center the sight housing inside the peep. Essentially, you’re trying to set up concentric circles, with the peep on the outside and the sight housing on the inside.
Even when anchored properly, you’ll notice that small head movements can change the way the sight housing sits inside your peep. But for consistent accuracy, the two need to line up the same way for every shot.
Most sight housings have a bright ring marking the face of the scope that the archer looks through. Use that ring to help you center the sight in your peep. Your brain will want the sight housing to be centered inside the peep, so let it guide your body to align them properly. Before long, it will happen without your thinking about it.
Once those two rings are aligned, it’s time to put your pin on the target or animal you’re trying to hit. At this point, it’s just a general pin alignment. We’ll get to the final alignment after another step.
Guide your bow so the pin is generally sitting on the spot you want to hit. But before you paste it to the exact spot you want to hit and start your shot process, you need to check the level. (Again, we’re assuming the sight has already been properly leveled during setup, so you can trust the bubble.)
When you check the bubble, it will tell you if you need to cant the bow left or right to get that bubble in the middle of the level. Once it’s there, take a mental note of how your body feels and try not to move anything that would cause the bubble to slide left or right.
In practice, this check — and your subsequent bow-position correction — happens fast. Once your pin hits your target, you take a quick glance at the bubble, make your correction, and then your focus goes right back to the sight pin. Now you can settle that pin to the exact spot where you want your arrow to hit.
From here, there are a couple of ways you can go. Some archers like to stare at what they want to hit and let the pin get blurry. They know the pin is moving, but they focus on the point of impact and count on the brain to bring the pin to that spot at the exact instant the arrow is released.
Another aiming method involves paying closer attention to your pin. The aiming spot is in focus and you bring the pin to cover it, or sit just underneath it. When the pin is in position, then you start to activate the shot. It’s up to you to figure out which aiming process works best for you.
As you’re focusing more on where you want your arrow to hit, you also want to keep your alignment in mind. You want the scope centered inside the peep, and the bubble in the middle of the level. Ideally, you will have practiced enough that once that alignment is set, it won’t change. But until you get to that point, you might have to make periodic checks while aiming to make sure everything stays aligned.
If you think about it, there’s a lot going on when you align a peep, sight housing, level and sight pin as you take aim with a compound bow. Fortunately, the juggling act to get everything aligned happens quickly, and after a while, it happens automatically. Once you know what to look for, and know how your body feels when everything is aligned, getting to the perfect spot will come naturally.