Goof-Proof Tips For Sighting-In Your Bow
January 25, 2012
Start by attaching the sight to the bow. Next, loosen the screw that locks the horizontal adjustment of the sight head and place an arrow on the rest. Move the sight head in or out until the pins line up with both the string and the nocked arrow. Often, the pins will end up slightly to the left of the arrow, but start with everything lined up.
Since I center my round sight housing inside my peep sight, I like to set my sight so that the middle pin is right in the center of the housing. This looks the most natural to my eye. Then, I sight in the 20-yard pin by moving the entire housing up or down.
The only problem with this strategy occurs if you have a high anchor point such as up by your earlobe (mine is down by the corner of my jawbone). A high anchor point will force your sight pins downward and your primary vertical dovetail will likely run out of adjustment room before you get the pins low enough. When that happens you will need to move the pins down inside the housing.
If you are hitting above the intended spot, move the sight body up. Move it down if you are hitting below your intended spot. If you are hitting to the left of the spot, move the sight body to the left. Move it to the right if you are hitting to the right of the spot.
Personally, with the speed of today's bows, I would not set a pin at less than 20 yards unless you are a youth hunter with a slower arrow flight.
Once you get your 20-yard pin close, move back to 30 yards and repeat the process. Spend the time necessary to tweak that sight body at 30 yards so that the 30-yard pin is hitting perfectly. Now, all you should have to do to get the 40 and 20-yard pins perfect is to adjust the pin gap (the distance between the individual pins) by sliding the individual pins up or down. Don't touch the sight body again and don't adjust the location of the 30-yard pin. You already have that covered. If your 20-yard pin is hitting high, move it up slightly. If it is hitting low, move it down, same for the 40-yard pin.
Spread the project over several days; your form can change slightly from one day to the next, so you need to work the pins into the right place over time to get the best results. This has the effect of averaging your shots together. It may take five different practice sessions to get a bow sighted-in perfectly.
CHOOSING THE ALIGNMENT SYSTEM
After getting your bow roughly sighted-in, it is time to attach and tweak-in your rear sight. Without question, you need something to provide a second alignment reference when shooting your bow. Just as a rifle shooter would never consider shooting his favorite gun without a rear sight, your bow also needs a rear sight.
You have options. I am a big believer in using a large peep sight. To go a step further, I will now tell you why I prefer peep sights in general. I feel a peep sight locks me into my anchor point and assures a consistently aligned sight picture better than other methods I have tried. Also, I am a sworn minimalist. I don't like to attach a lot of stuff to my bow. I live by the statement Keep It Simple Stupid. In fact, I could be the poster child for a national Keep It Simple Stupid campaign. So that bias prevents me from using some of the other systems on the market. As I mentioned, however, you do have other options.
Several companies make systems that feature a conventional fiber optic pin sight body and an extension pointing rearward that serves as the rear sight. I have tried these and they definitely work, but they do add to the complexity and weight of the bow. On the upside, they eliminate the need for a peep sight and thus they increase your field of view and your visibility in low light.
A kisser button is another option. A kisser button is a small disk that attaches on the string at a point where it contacts your lips or touches the corner of your mouth at full draw. The kisser also serves to improve low light visibility and field of view.
I have hunted with only a kisser button on my string and it works great on short shots. If you practice often so that your anchor point and body positions are consistent, and limit yourself to shots of less than 30 yards, this system will work fine. However, I sometimes shoot past 30 yards and the kisser button doesn't cut it. In fact, a kisser button used without a peep is only slightly more accurate than shooting with no rear sight whatsoever.
Again, archery offers you the chance to experiment and personalize your equipment to match your exact style of shooting. My recommendations will serve as a great starting point, but you can take it from there. Unless you have a strong objection to peep sights, I would simply start with an inexpensive peep sight in the string. You can always change your system later.
Installing a peep sight: To keep your peep sight from rotating dramatically when you draw the bow, be sure to place it in the center of the string. When strings are made, the builder twists up two different bundles of fibers. You need to be able to separate these two bundles. Ideally, the string builder used two different color fibers so you can immediately identify the center. If not, finding it will be much more difficult, maybe impossible. You need to remove all tension from the string and see if you can determine the center by examining the way it looks and behaves right where it comes out of the end serving. This is a good reason to own a two-tone string.
After you put the peep in, take the bow out of the press, put an arrow on the string and draw it back. Through a process of small movements, line the peep up perfectly with your eye and your sight pins when you pull back to your most comfortable anchor point.
Once you have everything lined up, serve the peep in place. I use a simple wrap using strand material from a worn out bowstring and tie it off the same way I tie off my center serving. It may not be fancy, but it is quick and simple and stays in place.
Shoot the bow several times to set the string before you start dealing with peep rotation. When the peep appears to be rotating the same every time, remove one end of the string (using the bow press again) and add twists (or half twists) until the peep comes back square to your eye every time you draw.
This process will take place over a few days as the string settles and stretches, but once it stabilizes, the peep will not move for months — possibly even years. I have a bow with a custom string on it (custom strings typically are pre-stretched so they stabilize very quickly). The way the peep rotates has not changed for three years even though I shoot the bow for two solid months leading up the hunting season.