Do you want to learn how to sight in a bow?
The good news is that there is an easy way to do it and I’m going to show you how.

Whether it’s a new sight, new rest, or different arrows, you will need to know how to sight in a bow. Any changes in your gear will likely change your accuracy and require adjustments to your sight.

The longer you use sights on your bow the more you will understand how they work in relation to your accuracy. As with most things in archery, it takes time and practice to get your bow set up correctly for accurate shooting. Here is some information to help you better understand bow sights and 6 easy steps for how to sight in a bow.

how to sight in a bow

Be sure and check out the video below of a guy shooting his compound bow 160 yards! Ridiculous!

The Basics of Bow Sights

(If you’re already familiar with bow sights, you can skip down to the next section.)

When you are new to using sights, your arrow groupings will not always be consistent. You may still be figuring out some of the fundamentals like shooting stance and your shot sequence. If you are making changes at this stage, it’s going to affect your accuracy. Even as you are settling into your form and feel good about your shot sequence, it will still take time to figure out aiming with a sight.

It’s also important to remember that if you’ve just mounted your sight on the bow, most likely your shots will not be in line with your sight. Most sights have a front pin or aperture which is between your eye and the target, and you will have to adjust the sight to get it lined up correctly.

There are many different sights available from simple single pin or aperture to complex five pin sights with fiber optics for low light, windage, and leveling meters. The methods of adjusting the sights also vary. Some sights can be adjusted by hand, while others require the use of a small tool like an Allen wrench. You should be able to adjust your sight in every direction.

Different variables affect where your arrow will actually hit. Distance from the target, bow speed, arrow flexibility, etc. Even things like wind and humidity affect arrow placement, especially at longer distances. Sighting in your bow is making the necessary adjustments to the sight pins so that with the variables, the sight pin lines up with the exact place the arrow will hit. This is what will enable you to group arrows on target.

Depending on how your brain works…

There are two ways to think about the direction you need to adjust your sight in relation to where your arrows are hitting on the target.

Understanding how to sight in a bow is first learning how sight adjustment direction correlates with arrow placement. This can be confusing at first depending on how your brain thinks.


  1.  Move the sight pin in the opposite direction the arrow needs to go. If you are shooting low, you will move the pin down since the arrow needs to hit higher. Horizontal movement is the same. If you move the pin to the right, your arrows will hit further left.
  2. Move the sight pin toward your arrow groups.When you are sighting in your bow, you work off arrow groupings to decide what adjustments you need to make. If the group is to the left of center, you move the pen left which will bring your arrows to the right.

What is an arrow grouping?

Grouping refers to the measured distance on the target between your shots. If you were to shoot a 2-inch group, it means that when you measure the arrows furthest apart on the target, they would be 2 inches apart.

What does your arrow group need to be?

Archer’s have different goals for what they want their shot groups to be. Typically, the grouping size goal expands the further away you are shooting. A good starting reference is 1 inch for every 10 yards. So it would be

  • 10 yards=1 inch group,
  • 20 yards= 2 inch group,
  • 30 yards= 3 inch group.

This would be a good goal when you are starting out. If you are new to archery and sighting in your bow for the first time, you can expand your grouping goals a little. The problem with expanding them too far is that you will not have a reference for adjusting your sights.

In other words, if you shoot one arrow 2 inches left of center and your second arrow 2 inches right of center, how do you adjust your sight? You don’t. You can’t adjust your sights with that arrow placement.

What if I can’t group arrows closely?

This means that you need to work on your form. Many beginning archers do not have good form and are often inconsistent in their shooting. Your arrow groups can tell you a lot about what changes you need to make, either in form or to your bow.

Check out this article on 13 surefire ways to improve your accuracy. If you practice the steps listed in the article, you will be grouping your arrows in no time. If you are new to archery and sighting in your bow for the first time, you can work off a 2-3 inch grouping to start adjusting your sight.

Update: Bowsight Recommendation

I realize if you are reading this article, you probably already have a bowsight. Still… almost a year after writing this article I’m updating this with a bowsight recommendation.

Why would I do that?

Honestly it would have to be something really important because this article isn’t about best bowsights. And I’ve used everything from $20 plastic multi-pin bowsights to a $400 single pin Sureloc bowsight. My point isn’t that they are the same (they’re not even close) but that any bowsight can be sighted in and used. If you like your bowsight and you shoot well with it, keep using it.

But I want to put in recommendation for Field Logic’s IQ Micro Bowsight. This is the only bowsight I know of that is actually “different” from any bowsight I’ve ever used. Yes, it is great quality and micro-adjustable. It’s also available in a 3,5,and 7 pin. But that is not why I’m recommending this sight.

This is the only bowsight I know of that will actually help train you to shoot better.

The IQ Micro Bowsight has Retina Lock technology. This is essentially an advanced type of level (in addition to its regular level) that shows you if you are torquing the bow in any direction. This is incredibly important because even a slight torquing of the bow can send your arrows off the mark. And the greater the distance, the greater your shot will be off.

This sight actually helps train you to not torque the bow when shooting and this becomes muscle memory. Before long, you will actually be shooting more accurately. You don’t have to take my word alone on this one. Read some of the reviews of this bowsight. So many archers attest to it helping them improve. Field Logic is also so confident that this bowsight will help you improve that it comes with a money back guarantee.

Quick Guide on How To Sight In A Bow

If you want to learn how to sight in a bow for the first time, here is a quick guide to help you.

1. Shoot 3 arrows at 5 yards.

♦If you are using new equipment, i.e. bow, sight, rest, etc; It’s best to start off really close to make sure you can get on the target. Shoot three arrows at a target on the ground, 5 yards away. It’s important that you use the same  three arrows for all of your sighting in. Putting the target on the ground helps with safety while you are making sure you can hit the target. Aim dead center for the bullseye on all three shots.  Once you get this first grouping, you’ll know you can hit the target, and you’ve got your starting point.

If for some reason your first arrow does not hit the target, stop shooting. Check your sight and rest.  Make sure both are properly attached. Pay attention to the direction your arrow missed the target. Move the corresponding pin in the direction you missed. In other words if you shot the ground under the target, your sight is way too high. You would need to move your sight pin down. Adjust your sight pin several clicks and shoot one arrow. Do this until you are hitting the target at 5 yards, then move on sighting in the bow.

2. Mark sight starting point.

♦Less is more. Seriously, a little goes a long way, especially the further away you are from the target. Most sights have measurement markings. You may be able to stick a strip of tape near the measurements so that you can make marks. It’s good to mark where you are for each adjustment in case you move the pin or aperture too far.

3. Shoot 3 at 10 yards

4. Start adjusting one direction only.

♦Which direction are you furthest away from center?  In other words, if your group is 4 inches left of center and 2 inches high, begin adjusting your sight left first. Stick with left/right adjustments until you are centered, then move on to up/down adjustments.

5. Continue shooting 3 at 10 until centered both ways.

♦Make a small adjustment after every grouping, moving your sight pin in the direction of the grouping until they are centered.

6. Sight in at 15 then 20 yards.

♦Move the target out to 15 yards and check your grouping. Hopefully, your group will still be centered. It may be slightly low, but it shouldn’t be much. Once you are comfortably centered at 15, move your target out to 20 yards. This is the distance you’ll spend a lot of time shooting at. It is the distance used for archery tournaments and most archer’s standard practicing distance. 20 yards is a good distance to sight in a single pin or top pin if you have more than one.

Here is an example of how to sight in your bow.

The grouping is low and left of center. Since it is slightly more left than low, I'll work on left/right movement until it is centered. I start with one click to the left.(I need the arrows to move to the right)
Not a great grouping but it moved over some. I'll click it left again.
Last left/right adjustment got me centered enough. Now I'll begin vertical adjustments. I need arrows to move up so I'm adjusting my sight down.
First bullseye. One more click down should be all I need for now.
Bow is sighted in. Now it's time to work on tighter groups!

Further Sight Adjustments

The distance you adjust your sight for will depend on your shooting needs. Check out this guy shooting a nice group at 160 yards….

Most of us will never shoot half that far. It’s good to have your sight marked out to 40 yards, but it’s better to be dead accurate at 20 yards.  You should adjust your sight according to what kind of archery you are engaged in. Target, bow hunting, etc. The important thing is to get comfortable with adjusting your sight so that you can do it quickly when necessary.

The more you practice in different conditions, the more you will understand all that affects the flight of your arrows. Wind is always a major factor for outdoor archery. Crosswinds can carry your arrows in one direction and require you to compensate. Shooting into the wind will slow your arrow causing you to hit the target lower. Humidity and rain can also affect arrow flight.

Some archers will adjust their sights constantly, and others will just adjust their aim depending on the conditions. For example, if you are shooting into the wind, you will just aim higher rather than adjusting the sight. With things like wind, it’s better to change your aim because conditions can change.

The most important thing is practice. If you are new to archery, I would recommend this post I wrote on how to shoot a compound bow.The more you practice in different conditions, the more you’ll see the effects on your shooting. As you work on adjusting your sight and aim when needed, you will get comfortable adapting and shooting accurately in any situation.

I also came across a Levi Morgan video on sighting in your bow that shows a good method.

What is your preferred method of sighting in your bow? Let me know in the comments below.

Author:Kasey Jones

Published: March 15, 2018

Category: Archery Information