How to Use a Bow Sight

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It probably goes without saying that accuracy is important in the sport of archery. Many of us spend countless hours at the range trying to hone our skills and improve our technique. Fortunately, archery has come a long way since it was practiced in ancient times, and new technologies can help us shoot better than ever before.

There’s perhaps no better example of this than bow sights. Bow sights are sophisticated pieces of equipment that can help you shoot far more accurately. But what are they, and how should you use one? This guide goes into the different types of bow sights, as well as how to aim with a bow sight and set one up.

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Bow Sights Explained

Before we discuss how to use bow sights, we’ll quickly establish how they work. There are two main types of bow sights: single-pin and multi-pin sights. Multi-pin sights usually have somewhere between three to five pins. The pins in the sight are used for aiming, and they can generally be configured for different distances.

The different pins in multi-pin sights are typically intended to be used for aiming at a different distance. One pin might be for 15 yards, another for 30, and so on. The pins in multi-pin sights are usually referred to as ‘fixed.’ This means that, once they have been set up, they can’t be adjusted on the fly.

Single-pin sights, on the other hand, are generally designed to be easy to adjust on the go. You’ll typically find some dials somewhere on the sight that allow you to adjust the pin in a single-pin sight, in order to shoot at different distances.

This video provides an excellent, in-depth explanation of bow sights, including the different parts that make up a bow sight and how to properly use them.

In-depth explanation of bow sights

Aiming with a Bow Sight

It goes without saying that, in order to get the most out of your bow sight, you’ll need to know how to use it properly. By keeping just a handful of principles in mind, you should be able to see great results with using a bow sight.

Learning to aim properly with a sight can take time, but it’s well worth the effort. One of the tricky things to get used to when using a bow sight is that pointing the sight straight at the centre of the target is not necessarily what you need to do to get a bullseye.

In fact, if you’re missing the centre of your target, then you’ll most likely want to follow the arrows when you make adjustments to your shot. If you’re hitting low on the target, then adjust your sight in that direction. This might seem counter-intuitive, but this is actually what moves your arm into the correct position when shooting.

You may also notice that professional archers adjust their sights after each shot they make. This is actually not something that we would recommend beginner or intermediate archers do. Making even tiny adjustments to your sight can dramatically influence the outcome of your shot, especially when shooting at longer distances.

Instead, we recommend that you adjust your sight based on the outcome of a group of shots, rather than an individual shot. One exception here may be a shot that is wildly off the mark. Otherwise, you run the risk of adjusting your sight unnecessarily, when in reality you’ve just taken a bad shot.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t be using your sight as a telescope to look at the target through, nor should it be your focus. Your sight should rather be a point of reference to help you aim as part of the shot process. Don’t try to aim directly through the sight.

Your bowstring is also your friend when using a sight. It’s common practice to use the bow string as a rear sight, and it should be located to the side of your sight when you aim with your bow. The exact placement that you’ll want your rear sight to have is quite individual, and varies from archer to archer. Finding the right placement for you may take some experimenting.

Interested in when bow sights work best?

How to Properly Set your Bow Sight Up

No matter the type of bow sight you’re planning on using, you’ll need to make sure it’s set up correctly. Using a leveller can help you get your sight as level as possible, which is vital for sighting in your bow as accurately as possible.

This video provides an excellent rundown of how to install a bow sight, including how to use a leveller during installation for the most accurate calibration of your bow sight:

Technique Still Matters!

Finally, it’s crucial to keep the entire shot process in mind when using a bow sight. If you want to get the absolute most out of the sight, then, paradoxically, you shouldn’t rely on it too much. On the contrary, you’ll need to ensure that your shooting technique in general is accurate and efficient.

You may even want to practice your shooting technique without a bow sight prior to investing in one. This way, you can be sure that adding a sight into the mix when shooting isn’t going to trip you up, because you’ll already have a solid foundation of good technique and muscle memory to work off.

Bow sights are a fantastic way to improve your accuracy when practicing archery. However, using them successfully can take some practice and patience. We hope that this guide will give you the knowledge you need to get the most out of shooting with a bow sight.  

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