How to Set Up Sights on a Bow

Updated July 19, 2017

Whether shooting at the range or in the field, most modern bows are designed to be used with the aid of a visual sighting mechanism. Choosing a sight will depend on the application, your personal shooting style and the amount of money you are willing to spend, but the process of installation and calibration is actually fairly simple.

Locate the sight mounting holes on the riser portion of your bow. These holes are a standard size, and most sights will attach to them with two screws.

Line up the holes on the sight's mounting bracket with the mounting holes on the bow and place the screws in position. Before tightening them all the way, test the height: Some bows have multiple holes for different vertical alignments, so you want to choose a position that feels natural and lines up with the peephole sight in your bowstring. If you are using a sight with a dovetail style mounting bracket to allow for quick removal, you will mount the retainer bracket to the bow, which screws in the same way a fixed-plate mount does.

Tighten the mounting screws with your Allen wrench. Check one more time to make sure the sight is at a good level for your shooting style

Set up your target and stand exactly 10 yards away with your bow and arrows in hand. Draw back the bowstring and look through your sight. Line up the top pin of the sight with the bull's-eye on the target and fire an arrow. If the arrow hit dead in the centre of the bull's-eye, then your bow is perfectly calibrated at 10 yards.

Adjust the pin in the direction that your arrow was off in, if you didn't hit the bull's-eye. If the arrow landed to the left, move your pin to the left, for example.

Fire another arrow and adjust the top pin until you are able to hit the bull's-eye from the 10-yard mark when sighting with your top pin.

Move back to a distance of 20 yards and move your second pin down about 1/8 inch from the top pin. Bear in mind that the faster your bow can fire an arrow, the closer the pins will be together, so for high-speed performance bows, you may not need to lower the sighting pin as much. Fire an arrow and compensate for the amount that you were off by moving the pin until you can confidently group your arrows at 20 yards.

Repeat this process for all subsequent pins. Depending on how many pins you have, you may be able to calibrate in more precise increments, such as increments of 5 yards rather than 10 yards.


Choosing a sight that is best for your particular style and price range can be very difficult with the range of products available on the market. It may be helpful to consult with an expert at your local pro shop or shooting range to determine which kind of sight is best for you.


Archery is a very dangerous sport, and all safety precautions should be taken to avoid injury and death, both during sight calibration and recreational shooting.

Things You'll Need

  • Bow
  • Sighting mechanism
  • Allen wrench
  • Arrows
  • Archery target
  • Carpenter's level
  • Felt pen, fine tipped
  • Adhesive tape, white
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About the Author

Randal Singultary is a freelance writer, fiction author and poet, living and working in the Boston area. He graduated cum laude from Wheaton College with a B.A. in English in 2009.