A Guide to Archery Sights: The Best Way to Sight In a Bow

A Guide to Archery Sights: The Best Way to Sight In a Bow

You may wonder how archery sights work if you’re new to the sport. With the various types and varieties available, how can you choose the best one for you? And how should you use it? Well, do not worry, this page should help you to answer all of your questions about setting up and using your bow’s sights. If you are ready, let’s get started:

Archery Sights are a type of sighting device used in the sport of archery. Archery sights are found on bows and modern recurve bows. They provide a means to accurately aim the bow at a target by providing a point of reference as well as helping to compensate for an archer’s natural tendency to shoot high or low.

Single Pin and Multi-Pinned Sights

First, you must understand the differences between the two most common types of bow sights. One of my favorite sights is a single pin sight. It has one aiming pin that can be adjusted by adjusting a couple of dials – to compensate for distances.

The other main type of sight is multi-pin sights (also referred to as fixed pin sights). These sights typically consist of three to five aiming pins, which are carefully positioned prior to deployment into the field.

The pins can’t be easily moved or adjusted after they are initially set up, so they’re called fixed pin sights. During sighting (or setting up) each pin is carefully adjusted for a given distance, then the sight is ready for use.

With each pin, you can aim for a different distance. For example, a three pin sight may have one pin for aiming at 10 yards away, another pin for aiming at 20 yards, and the last pin for aiming at 30 yards.

You can set the pins for any yardage distance you want. Multi-pins are commonly set up as follows: 20 / 30 / 40 yards, 15 / 20 / 25 yards, 25 / 35 / 45 yards. If you’re an archer, you should set up your aiming pins based on not only how good you are – but also how far your bow can shoot.

Note: Please take a moment to examine your bow: Most bows of any type today have manufactured holes already installed for attaching a sight. If you’re attaching a sight (of any kind) for the first time, be careful not to tighten the screws too much, as this could damage the bow.

If you don’t already have one, make sure to get a multi-sized Allen wrench tool. You need it not only to attach sights – but to adjust the aiming pins as well on multi-pinned sights.

How to Use Single Pin Sights

Due to their simplicity of use, many archers prefer single pin sights over their multi-pinned counterparts. Unlike multi-pinned sights, single pin sights provide an uncluttered sight picture that lets you see the target more clearly.

In addition, single pin sights prevent you from accidentally shooting the wrong pin, which has frustrated many hunters over the years. Starting now if you have never used a single pin sight before – it may take a little while to adjust to a single pin sight especially if you have been using a multi-pin sight for some time.

When you are shooting at still targets, you can select the exact yardage that you want to shoot. When you try to shoot moving targets, you’ll need to switch up your strategy. One of these will make things easier for you along with your sight.

Using Single Pinned Sights on Moving Targets

Most users of single pinned sights will set the sight up to have a range of 20 to 25 yards, whichever feels most comfortable to you. Using the known range of 20 yards, the players will simply aim above or below the target to adjust for distance.

By using a multi-pinned sight, you do not have to aim almost exactly, but just compensate for the yardage by aiming high or low. It is not uncommon for archers to be able to shoot anywhere from right in front of them to 40 or 50 yards away without having to adjust their sight. After enough practice, you’ll get used to it.

How to Sight-In a Single Pin Sight

To start, decide what yardage distance you want to set up your sight for. You could start by setting the distance at 20 or 25 yards, as I mentioned above. Then, walk to that distance away from your target either through the use of a rangefinder or by having already measured the correct distance away from your target.

Directly hit the center of the target and shoot 3 of the exact same type of arrow, one at a time, taking your time to aim. They should group pretty close together, so if it’s the case, take out the arrows and shoot one arrow at the target instead.

If the arrows aren’t grouping well together, something is probably wrong with your shooting or one of your arrows needs to be checked. If your shots grouped well, simply adjust your sight to point at the single arrow you just fired. You want to “follow the missed shot”. In other words, if the shot went left, adjust the sight accordingly.

If the shot went down, adjust the sight downward. In most cases, you will have to adjust horizontally and vertically. Let’s say your shot hit to the right and above. Point your sight at the middle of the target, just like before. While keeping the bow still, adjust the sight to where the missed arrow is on the target.

As you adjust the sight, make sure that the missed arrow is directly where the sight is pointing. Remove the arrow from the target, go back to the chosen distance, and shoot another arrow directly at the target center. You should now be closer to the center. Then repeat the process until your sight is perfectly aligned for your chosen yardage.

How to Use Multi-Pin Sights

Even though many archers prefer single pin sights, the most commonly used bow sight is the fixed pin sight with multiple pins. As we discussed above, you can use a single pin sight to hunt, you just need to compensate for the difference between the point on the sight that you are set up for and the actual distance to the target.

In fact, most hunters use multi-pinned sights, as if a target moves, they can just switch distances. For example: A deer is 20 yards away, you set up the 20 yard pin, then the deer sprints to 35 yards away. You put the deer between the 30 and 40 yard pins.

By having several points of reference when it comes to distance – it becomes easier for some people to estimate a moving target’s range. NOTE: Like I said it was easy for some people.

Many archers say that they can’t use the single pin sight until they practice with it a bit. Some people find it easier to aim at moving targets with single pin sights, because the picture is so clear.

You’ll have to decide which is easier for you and fits best with your shooting style.

For multi-pinned sights, a good way to use them is to guess how far the target is from you, and to place the center of the target between the two closest distance pins.

How to Sight In Multi-Pin Sights

All of the aiming pins should be adjusted to the most central position using an Allen wrench.

You should obtain a very durable archery target to use when sighting in your sight. A multi-pinned sight may require many shots in order to accurately sight all the pins.

Using a rangefinder (such as this one), mark the ground every ten yards away from the target, up to fifty yards. Following this process, you will sight in your bow sight at twenty, thirty, and forty yard distances, respectively.

By following along with the steps below, you can sight in your sight at different distances, according to your own yardages.

Place your foot at the 10 yard mark. The top pin should be aimed directly at the middle of the target. Shoot three arrows of the same type, one at a time, aiming and shooting thoroughly.

Again, as described above you want to follow missed shots by adjusting the sight box itself in the direction of the missed arrow.

Continue doing this until the arrows are shooting in the same direction as where you’re aiming. Afterward, move to the 20 yard mark and repeat the above steps, raising the sight box if needed. Repeat the process until the arrows are aligned with where you are aiming again.

After that, if your arrows land to the right or left of where you’re aiming, you can make small adjustments horizontally. Now, stand at the 30 yard mark and shoot some arrows at the target, using the second pin this time rather than the top pin as you did before.

If needed, you can follow the misses again and make any vertical changes, moving the sight box itself as you did previously.Then, stand at the 40-yard line and shoot three arrows at the center of the target, this time aiming with the third aiming pin on the sight.

If your arrows are hitting too high or too low, use your Allen wrench to adjust the pin itself, not the sight box, as you did previously. If your arrows hit off vertically, either too far right or too far left, don’t make adjustments for it yet. Ideally, you should stand back at the 30-yard mark and make your left and right corrections from there.

Return to the 20 yard mark and shoot three arrows from this distance again. Now that your sight is off, you must adjust the aiming pin using your Allen wrench, without moving the sight box.

The sight should now be accurately set up for shooting at 20 / 30 / 40 yards. Whenever you need to adjust or fine tune your sight, just repeat the steps outlined above.


1 – When sighting in any bow sight, you must maintain a consistent anchor point. When aiming at a target at full draw, your anchor point is the point where your bowstring hand anchors.

The anchor point has to stay consistent, as changing it even slightly changes the point from where the arrow is released, which reduces accuracy.

2 – It’s a best idea to split up the process of sighting in your new sight over several days. You can do a little bit of sighting each day for a few days. The reason for this is that after a while of constant shooting, your arms and chest can become tired.

If you let fatigue set in, you will lose your shooting form and become less accurate. By splitting up the sight-in process over a few days, you can ensure that you have your bow and your sights properly set up.

3 – Do you ever feel like you’re just ‘in the zone’, doing something well, and everything is just flowing? Whenever you feel you’re not “in the groove” or “in the mood,” skip your sighting for the day!

You’ll have to wait another day. When it comes to getting your sight set up properly, it takes a lot of fiddling and tweaking, so don’t try to sight it in when you’re not feeling up to it.

Using Peep Sights

Depending on your shooting style, you may want to use a peep sight in addition to your front end bow sight. A peep sight is a small hole sight attached to the bowstring. When you draw your bowstring fully, you will be able to see the front sight through the string.

It is a simple matter of looking through the hole, which should look like a black tunnel, to line up with the bow sight. When you can clearly see your bow sight through your peep sight, align the correct aiming pin and your target so that they are directly in the center of the peep sight.

You may have to practice using a peep sight a bit to get it down, or you may choose not to use one.


I hope this has helped you understand the different types of bow sights, their uses, and how to set them up to work properly with your bow. It’s always best to practice anything you’re learning in archery.

It may take you a while to master a sight, but once you do it can be very useful. If you’re still not sure whether you want to go with a fixed pin or a single pin sight, try finding an archery store in your area that sells them.

If you have one near you, go out and grab your bow. You will be able to try both styles and decide which is best for you. If you have the budget for it, you can even get an entry level version of each.

There are numerous entry-level bow sights available from most online retailers for $20 to $30. So you’ll have the time to practice with each of them, and decide which you prefer using. Alternatively, you could use each on different occasions and for different types of shooting, which many archers do.

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