Sighting In a Compound Bow – A Simple Step-by-Step Tutorial

Sighting in a compound bow is a crucial process for any archer looking to improve their accuracy. A properly sighted-in bow can tighten arrow groupings and allow you to confidently reach out to greater distances. Conversely, an improperly sighted bow will send your arrows straying all over the target.

While sights and mounting systems differ between bow manufacturers, the process of dialing in your sight remains relatively constant. With a methodical approach and a few simple tools, any compound bow can be accurately sighted in. Follow the steps below to learn how to sight in a compound bow for accuracy and ultimate precision.

How to Sight in a Compound Bow (Step by Step)

Step 1 – Establish a Shooting Distance

The first step is choosing an appropriate shooting distance to sight in your compound bow. The ideal sighting distance depends on your draw length and bow specs.

Most archers choose a distance between 20 and 60 yards. Shooters with shorter draw lengths should stay on the closer end of this range, around 20 yards, while archers with draw lengths 28″ or longer can sight in at 50-60 yards.

Regardless of your specs, a general rule of thumb for beginning archers is to start around 20 yards when sighting in your compound bow. This provides a close reference point to make initial sight adjustments.

Once your sight is dialed in at 20 yards, you can confirm accuracy at greater distances. Starting close builds confidence and allows you to control more variables.

Step 2 – Set Up Your Target

Now it’s time to get your target set up. Position your target directly in front of where you will be shooting at the pre-determined distance.

For sighting in, high-contrast paper tuners work very well. They provide precise visual references to adjust your sight to. Grid-style targets with alternating black and white squares are ideal for this.

Other great target options are layered foam archery targets. Look for a target with clear aiming points free of major wear. Make sure your target is on a stable stand or position where it won’t easily tip over.

Ensure there are no obstructions between you and the target. A clear line of sight is key for an effective sight-in session. It’s also helpful to mark sight-in distances on your shooting lane, either with tape or target stands.

Step 3 – Establish Proper Shooting Form

With your target visible and shooting distance marked, it’s time to step up to the line. As with any practice session, it’s critical to go through your standard shooting form and routine.

Stance, anchor point, bow hand position, release, and follow-through should all align with proper form. Make sure you are comfortable and balanced before you draw back the bow.

Pay particular attention to consistency in your anchor point on your face. This is the reference point between your hand and jaw that sets bowstring alignment. A steady anchor is crucial for sighting in accuracy.

Use a release aid and aim for smooth, constant pressure through the shot. Avoid punching the trigger or anticipating shot break. Keep form as consistent as possible from arrow to arrow.

Step 4 – Group Your Arrows

Now it’s time to start putting arrows downrange. For your first few shots, focus more on establishing a solid group rather than target impact.

Ideally, you want your first 3 to 5 arrows to land within a 4-6 inch circle, even if not exactly where you are aiming. Tighter group sizes will come as you dial in the bow sight.

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Use these first shots to “find” your natural point of impact with your current sight marks. Make small form tweaks if needed between shots to tighten groups.

Consult your sight’s windage and elevation adjustments if grouping towards one side. Aligning your bubble levels can also help center horizontal and vertical variance.

Step 5 – Adjust Your Sight

After shooting your initial arrow groups, it’s time to make your first-sight adjustments. Consult your bow sight owner’s manual for exact adjustment procedures. Most utilize a combination of windage and elevation knobs.

You want to move your sight pin to align with actual arrow impacts, not the other way around. Incrementally turn adjustment knobs in the direction arrows are hitting on the target.

For example, if your group is hitting 6 inches left of center, turn the windage knob right to move the sight pin left. Only make small adjustments of a few clicks or 1/8th turns.

It often takes several rounds of shooting groups and making sight corrections to dial in accuracy. Don’t chase wild flyers or miss one time. Stick to a methodical adjustment approach.

Step 6 – Fine Tune and Verify

After your sight is largely dialed in, it’s time to confirm accuracy and fine-tune. Shoot several arrows from your predetermined 20-yard sight-in distance.

If needed, make micro windage and elevation adjustments to get arrows grouped as tightly as possible. When arrows are centered and grouped within a 2-3 inch circle at 20 yards, initial sight-in is complete.

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As a final step, verify accuracy at greater distances. Move back incrementally to 40, 50, and 60 yards if possible. This will expose any minor inconsistencies. Make the last small sight tweaks to confirm adjustments at distance.

Remember wind, shooting form, and other factors can influence arrow impacts at greater distances. Don’t over-adjust your finely tuned sight if impacts are reasonably centered.

Helpful Tips for Sighting In Your Compound Bow

Here are some additional tips to help you achieve the best accuracy when going through the compound bow sighting in process:

  1. Make incremental adjustments – Move the windage and elevation in small amounts at a time, no more than 1/16” per adjustment.
  2. Use a bow square – Ensure your sight and rest are perfectly perpendicular to the bowstring.
  3. Verify sight leveling – Your sight should sit perfectly level horizontally and vertically.
  4. Shoot from a solid platform – Use a sturdy table, tripod, or shooting block for maximum stability.
  5. Check your form – Inconsistent form will lead to erratic arrow placement, worsening over distance.
  6. Use quality arrows – Match the spine, length, weight, and nocks for the most accurate flight.
  7. Consider broadhead impact – Account for the difference in point of impact between field points and broadheads.
  8. Mark sight settings – Note the click values for 20, 40, 60-yard marks for quick reference later.
  9. Confirm yardages – Use a rangefinder or tape to double-check distances when moving back.
  10. Pick calm conditions – Wind, rain, and other weather can affect your sighting in process.
  11. Take the time to ensure your equipment is set up properly and your shooting form is consistent. Sighting in your compound bow is a rewarding process that results in greater precision on the range or in the field when hunting.

The Benefits of Properly Sighting In Compound Bow

Making the effort to properly sight in your compound bow provides several significant benefits for your shooting:

Greater Accuracy

The most obvious advantage is much-improved shooting accuracy. Precision sight adjustments allow you to consistently hit targets exactly where you aim once dialed in.

Tighter Arrow Grouping

A compound bow that is perfectly sighted in will yield tighter clusters of arrows on the target, boosting precision across different distances.

Increased Shooting Confidence

Knowing your bow is accurately calibrated builds confidence in your shooting abilities. You can trust your aim and bow to be dead-on.

Longer Effective Shooting Range

Accurate sight pins allow you to effectively shoot and hit targets out to longer ranges, broadening your effective shooting distance.

Enhanced Hunting Success

For bowhunters, a properly sighted in bow means greater accuracy and lethality in the field when the moment of truth on a trophy animal arrives.

Trouble-Free Shooting

Eliminating accuracy issues from poor sighting means one less variable to worry about, allowing you to focus on flawless shooting form.

Spending a little quality time dialing in your sights pays off exponentially in the performance of your equipment. The difference in tight arrow groups from a calibrated bow versus one that is off makes the effort well worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to sight in a compound bow 3 pin?

Start by sighting in your 20-yard pin. Shoot from 20 yards at a target and adjust your sight until arrows are hitting the bullseye. Next move back to 30 or 40 yards and dial in your 2nd pin using the same process.

Finish by sighting in your 3rd pin at 50 yards or your max shooting distance. Adjust all pins incrementally and shoot multiple arrow groups at each distance for accuracy.

How to sight in a compound bow 1 pin?

Pick a mid-range distance, typically 30 or 40 yards. Set up a target and mark the yardage. Shoot a group at the target, then adjust your single sight pin windage and elevation to move your arrow impact to the bullseye.

You may need to “chase the arrows” over several groups and adjustments. Once centered at your chosen distance, verify accuracy by shooting at known distances out to 60 yards.

How to sight in a compound bow 5 pin?

Start by establishing your 20-yard zero and adjusting the first pin accordingly. Move back to 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards, sighting in one pin at each distance. It often works best to start with the 2nd or 3rd pin and work outwards to avoid overlapping pins early in the process.

Take your time making incremental adjustments and shoot multiple arrow groups before moving distances. Fine-tune all pins as needed once set to the correct yardage.


Sighting in a compound bow properly is a satisfying and confidence-building process. With an accurate sight picture, your shooting skills are now free to excel.

The steps above outline a methodical approach to dialing in bow sights for any shooter. Sight-in sessions should be repeated periodically as new strings and accessories are added to your bow setup.

A perfectly tuned bow is capable of impressive downrange accuracy. But it takes diligent practice and consistent shooting form to get the most out of your equipment.

Remember that sustained accuracy requires continual focus and upkeep – on your shooting form, bow maintenance, arrow tuning, and mental game. Sight-in sessions are just one piece of the puzzle.

Stick with the process above and constantly analyze your shot technique. In time, you’ll have your compound bow shooting laser-like arrow groups at any distance. Now get out there, fling some arrows, and enjoy watching them consistently hit the bullseye!

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