How To Sight In A Bow Without Shooting It

Without sighting your bow, there is a very high chance that you will not hit your target; at least, not without some kind of miraculous luck.

Shooting a bow requires a serious degree of consistency and precision if you want to get it right every time and having the right equipment, properly set up can make a significant difference.

When you shoot the arrow, gravity will pull at it from the moment it leaves the bow and this can cause it to drop. If your bow is not sighted in correctly, gravity will take over and you won’t be on target.

Taking the time to properly sight in your bow will improve your accuracy and consistency, making you a better archer.

In this article, we are going to show you how to effectively sight in your bow.

You may have noticed that there are a lot of laser devices out there to help with this. However, these are not typically recommended since manually sighting your bow is always going to yield the best results.

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How To Sight In A Bow

If you are new to archery, you will likely have never sighted in your bow until now. But we have put together these detailed sets of instructions to take you from beginning to end easily.

In order to correctly sight in your bow, you will need to fire some arrows. There may be claims out there telling you that you can sight in your bow without shooting it but you will never get the accuracy you need without testing the shots.

Getting Started

Before you even touch the bow, there are a few things that you will need to consider. Primarily, you will want to make sure that your bow is well-tuned; if it is not, there is very little point in trying to sight it.

Furthermore, you must make sure that your shots are consistent. If you do not then you will not be able to properly sight the bow, so if this needs work, it is worth working on this before getting started.

Secondly, you should make sure that you have your target prepared. In this instance, we would recommend using a large target, preferably a block. This is because you will need room for error when sighting in your bow and having a larger target will prevent lost arrows, especially at further distances.

Once the target is in place, you will need to mark up distances moving away from it. The best way to do this is by using a RangeFinder which can be easily sourced online.

You will need to place markers every ten yards up to 40 yards.

Never attempt to sight a bow if you are tired, you just won’t get the results you are looking for. If you begin the process and feel like you have had enough, don’t try to push it. There is no shame in leaving a pin or two for another day.

It is better to do this over the course of a couple of days that push yourself and get it wrong.

When you are tired, your shots are likely to be off and this won’t do you any favors.

Preparing The Sight

Before you can sight in your bow, you will need to find the right sight to use. Sights can be purchased online or at your local archery shop and are not incredibly expensive with most decent sights coming in around the $50 mark.

Now you will need to install the sight. In most cases, you will notice that your bow has pre-drilled holes for the sight to be attached. This will be held in places with screws, although it is important not to do this too tightly or it could damage the bow. But then again, you need to make sure that they are tight enough to hold the sight in place.

The sight will have a series of pins and you should always make sure that these pins are vertical to the bowstring once the sight is installed.

Sighting In The Bow

Now that you have everything prepared, it is time to get on with the actual sighting in. This is done by setting each pin at a different distance. This will take some time, so as we have already mentioned, if you get tired at any point, take a break and come back to it later.

Sight The First Pin

You will sight the first pin from the ten yard mark, but it will be sighted at 20 yards. Find a stance that is comfortable, most commonly this is with the body turned at a right angle from the target.

Look through the top pin of the sight and let a few arrows go. You will need to look at where the arrows landed in comparison to where the sight was. If they landed slightly above where you had intended, you will need to move the sight box up.

This process can then be repeated at the 20 yard mark. Once you are confident that the arrows are shooting in line with the sight, you can start to look at whether they are moving too far left or right.

If you notice that they are, then you can adjust the sight by moving it side to side. It is important to take your time with this to ensure that you get it spot on as once you are out in the field, you do not want to be off target.

Sight The Second Pin

When you are happy that the top pin has been successfully sighted, you will need to move to the 30 yard mark on the range. It is here that you will sight the second pin.

This time, you will look down the second pin and fire off a few arrows to judge where they land in comparison with the pin.

Now you will repeat the same process of adjusting the sight box and checking this against arrows fired until you are happy with the placement.

The second pin is of extra importance as it is used as the anchor of the bow and this means that once all the other pins are in place, it cannot be changed. For this reason, it is worth taking that little bit of extra time to get it spot on.

Sight The Third Pin

When you are ready, and you may have needed to take a break by this point, move to the forty yard mark and again, fire off a few arrows looking through the third pin.

Now take a look at where the arrows have landed and decide whether the sight needs to be moved up or down. The difference here is that unlike the others, where you moved the sight box, you will now only move the pin.

If your arrows are still too far to the left or right, this cannot be adjusted here. So, you must return to the thirty yard marker and adjust this here.

Go Back To 20 Yards

Now, you will need to go back to the twenty yard marker and test your shots again. Take the time to fire a group of arrows and make sure that everything is still in place.

If you need to make any further adjustment, you should do so by adjusting the pin and not the sight box this time.

Extra Pins

Some sights have more pins which are designed to be used from even greater distances, 50 yards and even 60 yards. If your sight has these, you should repeat the steps to sight these pins accordingly.

Can I Shoot A Compound Bow Without A Sight?

The truth is that it is entirely possible to shoot your compound bow without using a sight but that does not mean to say that it will be easy. In fact, this is something that new archers will almost certainly find extremely challenging.

That being said, practice makes perfect and there are several things that you can do to improve your shot when not using a sight.

  • Always make sure that your stance is correct. This is the foundation for a good shot and every expert archer will tell you that if your stance is off, so too will your shot be.
  • You must ensure that your grip on the bow is not too tight. If it is, this can create torque and throw off your accuracy. Instead, make sure that the weight of the bow is distributed evenly in the space between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Don’t rush the preparation for the shot. Take time to make sure that the arrow is properly nocked and not making contact with any other part of the bow.
  • Make sure that you practice your draw. Some people think that this merely involves pulling the bowstring back, but there is a technique and learning this will ensure a good draw every time.
  • Keep your eyes on the target in as straight a line as possible and ensure that your chin is parallel to the ground. Keeping the head in this position will further add to your ability to fire without a sight.
  • Don’t twist your body when firing the arrow as this will throw off your accuracy.

The above steps will help you to shoot your bow accurately without using a sight but it is important to keep in mind that this takes an intense amount of practice.

When you first begin archery, it is wise to use a sight as well as a peep sight to get your used to aiming. Once you have practised using these, you will be ready to move on to using a compound bow without a sight and take your archery skills to the next level.


While there may be people that tell you that you can sight in your bow without shooting it, doing this will likely result in a sight that is off. If you want the best results, you must release a series of arrows while adjusting the sight.

This can be a lengthy process so you should be prepared to dedicate time across a few days to do it. If you do not, you may find that your shots are off and the bow will not be sighted in properly.

About Brad Harris