In this article I’m going to go over using bow sights but first,

Lets test your trivia knowledge with a question:

Do arrows fly straight?

What did you guess?

While arrows might be fairly straight, their flight never is. In the slow motion video you can see the arrow flopping around. That movement relates to the arrow spine which is it’s flexibility.

Additionally, the flight of an arrow is always arched.  You can see this in the movies when soldiers loose a flaming arrow 200 yards across the battlefield. (yes, loose is the word.) They don’t aim straight across at the soldiers.

If they did that the arrows would end up 50 yards away on the ground. Instead, they increase the angle and aim up in the air, arching the arrow to its target. When we talk about aiming, it is the process of matching your view of the target with the arched flight of the arrow. Aiming without bow sights should be the basis of an archer’s form, and using bow sights should only assist in the process.

This is one area new archers struggle with, mostly because they overthink it. Over-concentrate may be a better way to describe what happens with using bow sights. One can forget that aiming is a part of the complete shooting process. Many archery coaches say the process of aiming at the center of a target is instinctive, even for beginners.

This means that an archer must focus on form, and repeating this form. Once you have repeated good form in combination with the instinct of aiming center, you have accuracy. The point is that sometimes, your brain can get in the way.

Instinctive Shooting- Aiming Without Bow Sights

The arrow is always on an arched path when it is shot because of gravity. Except for a very short distance, you will always have to aim higher than your target because the arrow is being pulled down by gravity. With no variables, the arc is close to the same on every shot. But of course, variables like the weather will affect this.

Instinctive shooting is aiming without bow sights. You are looking at the target and shooting. Your instincts, which comes with practice give you a feel for where the arrow will hit the target.

When I shot a recurve bow without using bow sights the first time, I remember being very surprised that the arrow didn’t go where I thought it would. But after you continue shooting, your eyes, brain, and body start to figure it out. But aiming without bow sights is process of training both the mind and body with lots of practice.

Aiming With Your Arrow Point

Archers who start out in a program may learn to aim with the point of the arrow. This is not instinctive shooting, strictly speaking, and it can have some of the drawbacks of using bow sights. But using the arrow point may be a good way to start if you are learning for the first time and not using bow sights in the traditional sense.

If you can, learn both ways of shooting while you are starting out. Many coaches recommend starting out aiming without bow sights or with a simple sight, like the arrow point, because it will help you concentrate on form.

You also do not have to worry about sighting in your bow which is a process that you will need to learn eventually. Utilizing various shooting methods, as well as different types of bows, will make you a better all-around archer.

Practice Aiming Without Bow Sights

If you want to practice aiming without bow sights, there are a few things that will help you with this. One is canting your bow, which is tilting it slightly. If you are drawing with your right hand, you will cant the bow to the right. If you draw with the left hand, you cant to the left. Doing this gives you a little stronger rest for the arrow and help with consistent arrow positioning.

Some archers feel this also helps with visibility. Canting also has its drawbacks as it is difficult to tilt the same every time you shoot. If you are starting instinctive shooting, it’s worth trying this out to see how it works for you. It is important to shoot straight up and down as well.

A vital part of shooting accurately, whether using bow sights or aiming instinctively, is form awareness and memory. Accuracy in all types of archery is repetition of good form. Doing the same thing the same way, every time you shoot.

One recommendation I gave in this article on accuracy is videotaping some of your shooting session when you are working on form. Since it’s best to videotape from the side it’s also helpful to call out your shot afterward. For instance, after your shot you say low and left. This way you can see any if there was any deviation in form on that shot.

Using Bow Sights- The Front Sight


Using bow sights is the easiest way you can improve accuracy if you have good form. Front sights are usually either pins or circle apertures. As you aim at a target, you look through the aperture, aligning it with the target. With good form and consistent shooting, using a front sight will be a great advantage.


A front sight needs to be mounted and adjusted so that it correctly intersects your line of sight and the flight path of the arrow.Especially if you’ve come from shooting without a sight, you will want to keep your form the same and adjust the sight into your normal view of the target. Most archers adjust the front sight so that it comes between their focus on the distant target. When you do this, the aperture is in your foresight and will blur slightly. The importance of form cannot be overstated.

Drawbacks to Using Bow Sights- Over-Aiming

With correct form, you will naturally aim where you should. Using bow sights will just aid in this process. If your form is poor and you are using bow sights and relying too heavily on the front sight, trying to force it on target will not help you be consistently accurate. Forcing your sight on target will also lead to over-aiming and drifting. Too much focus on aiming and using bow sights can also make you lose form and create bad shooting habits. Stick with your form and target focus and only let the front sight assist you with better accuracy.

Types of Front Sights

When you are using bow sights you will have to select the type of sight based on your shooting needs. Most recurve and compound bows do not come with front sights because there are so many different sights available and every archer is different.

Nearly all bows will have drilled holes for mounting a front sight. Thankfully, there are standard size bolts and spacing that manufacturers have set up so that most sights can be attached to most bows.

Front Sight Materials

Some sights are made of plastic materials, and these will usually be inexpensive. Higher priced sights are usually constructed of stronger materials like aluminum and carbon.

Since these are used by professionals and competitive archers, they are machined to exact specifications. Mid-priced sights can be a combination of these materials including plastic. There are good sights available at every price range and depends entirely on your shooting needs.




There are so many different sights available that its impossible to describe them all. When you purchase a sight, it typically does not require any difficult assembly. Depending on the complexity of the sight, the aperture assembly can be attached to multiple pieces which can be adjusted. The more movable pieces in the assembly, the more you can fine-tune your adjustments. The sight assembly is attached to a mounting bracket which you will attach to the bow.

Bow Sight Apertures

Apertures vary as much as bows. This is a good thing since everyone has different vision. When you decide on using bow sights, you will likely have to try out several sights to find out what works for your eyes. The aperture may be just a small circular ring or a larger circular ring with a sight pin inside. Some pins are bright metal and others pins have fiber optics which glow in the sunlight. Those with fiber optics may even have batteries so that it can glow indoors or low light situations. Sights used for target archery are usual single pin sights. Those used for bowhunting can have anywhere from 3-7 pins.


Adjusting Front Sights

The most basic aperture assembly can be adjusted up and down. This adjuster is often made easier so it can be quickly adjusted for shooting at different distances. Most sights can also be adjusted left, and right which is necessary when first aligning the sight can also be adjusted to compensate for wind if necessary. Most archers prefer to adjust their aim rather than sight in that situation as the wind may change again.


I mentioned that some of the more complex sights have more pieces for fine tuning your sight. These micro-adjustments can be made on most target sights. Another nice aspect of the target sight is that many have a long mounting bar.

This enables you to move the sight closer and further away depending on your sight needs. Compound bow scopes can sometimes have a scope which is a magnifying lens. The scope will be attached to the aperture and may even have a level to indicate the bow position.

Rear Sights

If you are using bow sights on a compound bow, you may also want to  utilize a rear sight or peep sight. These are not used on recurve bows. This sight is inserted in the middle of the bowstring strands.

A bow press is usually used to compress the compound limbs so that the peep sight can insert into the string. The sight must also be perfectly aligned with your eye. It’s best to let the experts at your local archery shop install a peep sight for you.

Author: Kasey Jones

Published: March 31, 2018

Category: Bow Sights