Sight-In Strategies - August 2010

Question: My bow is shooting low and left. I am a beginner. What do I need to do to sight in my bow correctly? Also, should I practice shooting in the rain, wind, etc. so that I will be prepared for the upcoming hunting season? -- Jeremiah Phillips, Shreveport, La.

Answer: Ideally, you will sight in your bow over the course of several days, even weeks. Because your shooting form changes a little bit from day to day, you need the advantage of time to average it out and arrive at your best pin location that yields the greatest accuracy. The goal is to average out those small changes by spreading the task over a longer period of time.

So, with that in mind, don't worry if you aren't perfectly tweaked in after the first few sessions. Just keep shooting and pay attention to trends. Once you have shot enough to see definite trends like, "I seem to be shooting a bit left more often than I am shooting a bit right," then it is time to compensate. Just be patient and the process will be much more accurate.

It is easy to remember the actual adjustments required to bring your groups to the center of the target. You need to move the sight pin in the direction of the arrow — you chase the arrow. So if you determine after a few sessions that you are shooting a bit high and left, simply move that sight pin to the left and up.

If you are using a sight with gang-adjustments, you will want to move the entire sight body to the left and possibly move the entire sight body up too, or you may choose to move just the one pin if you have not set the spacing of all your pins for longer shots yet.

I generally try to sight in my middle pin first. For example, if I have three pins set at 20, 30 and 40 yards, I will set the 30-yard pin first. I try to keep it in the center of my sight body and then move the sight body to adjust the location of the group. Then when I have that one more or less set, I'll set the 20-yard pin above and finally, after both of those are shooting well, I will set the 40-yard pin. This produces the best overall results for me and leaves me with a sight body in which the pins are more or less centered. That can be important depending upon how you aim. But that is a subject for another day. Just trust me on that.

You definitely need to practice in every situation that you will expect to hunt in. It is a very good idea to know how far your arrow drifts in crosswinds of various strengths. Not only will that help you to know where to aim, but it will also give you the feedback you need to know when a shot is too far based on the conditions. For example, on windy days, my maximum shooting distance is less than it is on relatively still days.

Good luck getting your bow sighted in. It is an important project and when done right will produce a lot of confidence.

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