How to adjust a bow sight

How To Adjust A Bow Sight? Set Windage, Elevation, and Level with 2nd and 3rd axis

Have difficulty hitting the target even in sight? Well, maybe that is because you have just installed it and haven’t adjusted it. This is like having a guitar that is not tuned so it would produce music that makes you cry.

Sights are the fun of archery, and so we need to get yours fixed quickly so you can have an enjoyable day. To set the sight, there are a few necessary adjustments with the horizontal, and vertical axes and leveling of the case that we need to solve.

Here are the general rules,

  1. Move your sight in the direction where your arrows are grouping.
  2. If arrows group to the left, move the sight to the left; if arrows go high, move sight up; if arrows group to the right, move sight right; if shots go low, move the sight down.
  3. Smaller adjustments are needed for longer distances.

With that said let’s start this experience. Be careful with the bow sight setup and don’t go too hard at once. Follow along.

Parts Of The Sights

Before we start making any changes, let’s familiarize ourselves with the main components of a typical bow sight. Also, refer to your sight’s manual and find your knobs. A bow sight consists of the following parts:

Sight Housing: The sight housing is a protective casing that houses the sight pins.

Sight Pins: These are the small metal or fiber optic pins that you align with your target. Multiple pins are used to set for different distances.

Elevation Knob: This knob allows adjustment of the vertical alignment of the sight.

Windage Knob: The windage adjustment knob allows for correcting the horizontal alignment of the sight.

What to Consider Before You Begin

Before starting to adjust your bow sight, it is important to note the following points:

  1. Ensure your bow is properly tuned. This includes checking the bow string alignment, and arrow rest position, and ensuring your arrows are the correct length and weight for your bow.
  2. Ensure that the bow sight is properly installed.
  3. All the pins of the bow sight are in line with the bowstring and are aligned with the arrow.
  4. Make sure your peep sight (if you use one) is at the correct height for your eye when at full draw.

Types of Adjustments To Make

Before starting you should know the types of adjustments you need to make:

Elevation Adjustment: This involves adjusting the vertical position of the sight to compensate for different distances.

Windage Adjustment: Adjusting for windage involves moving the sight’s horizontal location to prevent horizontal drift brought on by the wind or poor form.

2nd Axis: Second axis adjustment is the correction made to ensure that the sight pins remain perfectly vertical even when the bow is tilted left or right

3rd Axis: The 3rd axis adjustment corrects the sight’s horizontal canting, ensuring accurate shots on uneven terrain. This adjustment ensures the sight remains level when the bow is tilted forward or backward.

Adjusting Pins: Multipin sights have an extra process of adjusting the sight pins individually. This fine-tunes individual sight pins to match specific distances.

Elevation and Windage Adjustment

windage and elevation adjustment

To adjust for elevation, shoot a group of arrows at a target. If the bow is shooting higher than the target, move the sight up. If the bow is shooting low, move the sight down. For windage, if the arrows hit to the left of the target, move the sight left. If arrows hit to the right, move sight to right. Remember the adage “follow your arrow” when making these changes. 

This might seem a little odd to move the sight opposite where you want your arrow to go to make it go there, but if you give it a thought after moving your sight or pins to the right, the next time you shoot, the sight will make you aim further to the left.

How to Adjust the 2nd Axis

The 2nd axis adjustment is crucial for ensuring that your sight is level with the bow. For 2nd axis, you’ll need a bow vise and a level. 

second axis adjustment guide
  1. Start by placing the bow in the vise and adjusting it until the bow’s string is perfectly vertical. This can be checked by using a plumb line or a level. 
  2. Once the bow is vertical, place the level on the sight’s level. The sight’s level is usually a small bubble level incorporated into the sight. If the bubble in the sight’s level is not centered, move the 2nd axis. 
  3. A screw or screws on the sight are normally loosened to enable you to rotate the sight till the bubble is in the center. 
  4. These screws are at different places for various types of sights, check the manual for location.
  5. Tighten the screws to hold the sight in place when the bubble has been centered. 

This process ensures that your bow sight is perfectly level with your bow, which is good for shooting at a tilted angle.

How to Adjust the 3rd Axis

The 3rd axis adjustment is important for shooting on uneven terrain or at extreme angles. 

Third axis adjustment guide

To adjust the 3rd axis, you’ll need a level that can be attached to the bow. 

  1. Start by drawing the bow, and tilt it forward as if you were shooting downhill. 
  2. If the bubble in the sight’s level is not centered, adjust the 3rd axis.
  3. This is typically done by loosening a screw or screws on the sight, allowing you to tilt the sight until the bubble is centered. 
  4. For a right-handed archer, press the sight outward if the bubble runs to the left. If it runs to the right, rotate the sight inward. The case will be the opposite for left-handed archers.
  5. Repeat step 1 to verify if the third axis is corrected.

Repeat this process with the bow tilted backward as if you were aiming uphill. The correct third axis ensures that your bow sight remains level even when shooting at extreme angles.

2nd and 3rd axis.

How to Adjust Multipin Sight Pins

Adjusting sight pins is a process of trial and error that involves shooting arrows and making adjustments based on where they hit. 

For multipin sights, the process begins by adjusting individual pins. You must first move the entire sight for height and windage before making any movement of the pins. Once the sight is set, tune each pin for distance. 

Remember to start with the top pin and work your way down, setting each pin for a progressively farther distance. The top pin is for the closest distance like 20 yards and the bottom pin is for the greatest like 50 to 70 yards.

Start by setting the top pin at a distance of 20 yards shoot a group of arrows and move the pin upwards if arrows are hitting above the target and vice versa. Similarly, move the pin leftward if arrows are hitting left and vice versa. 

There are knobs for moving these pins horizontally and vertically on the side of the sight. These can be rotated with the right tool that came with the sight. 

The top pin should remain in the upper third of the sight ring; if there is no space left, move the entire sight again and adjust the pin. Move a bit back like 25 yards and check if there is any discrepancy in accuracy. If so, adjust it again; otherwise, move to the next pin at 30 yards and repeat the process. 

A similar process goes for all the pins, moving 10 yards back for each. Move each pin up and down until it is adjusted for its specific distance.

Caution: Offset pin grouping refers to the misalignment of sight pins, resulting in uneven spacing or clustering of arrows on the target. Address this issue by paying attention to the gap between the pins, aiming for uniform spacing to achieve consistent grouping. Regularly practice with different distances to refine your aim and ensure reliable arrow placement.

Pro Tip: Record your settings by using a piece of paper and highlighting the position of the pins on it. You can use this as a reference for setting up a new sight.

Single-Pin Sight Adjustment

For single-pin sights, the process is a bit different. Start by setting housing for a specific distance, such as 20 yards. Shoot a group of arrows at the target. Adjust the sight If your arrows are not hitting the target where you’re aiming. This is typically done by using the sight’s vertical slider, which allows you to move sight housing up or down. And for horizontal, use the sight’s horizontal slider by turning the knob.

Once the pin is set for 20 yards, use the sight slider to adjust for different distances. Shoot a group of arrows at each distance and adjust the slider until your shots hit the target. This process ensures that your single-pin sight is accurately set for a range of distances.

Pro Tip: Use a sight tape and stick it onto your sight. Make adjustments for different distances and mark them on the scale. This way you will be able to quickly adjust for different ranges.

Learn more about sighting in a bow sight.

Do Adjustments To Sight Cause Misalignment Of Center Shot Or Bowstring Alignment?

No, adjustments to your bow sight, including windage (left/right), elevation (up/down), and second/third axis corrections, typically do not cause misalignment of the center shot or bowstring. These tuning processes primarily focus on aligning the sight pins with your target and ensuring accuracy in various firing conditions. Center shot and bowstring alignment are usually set separately during the initial setup of your bow and remain relatively stable when tuning the bow sight. It is because these aspects of bow setup are designed to be independent of sight modifications.

How Often Do You Adjust Your Bow Sight?

You don’t typically need to adjust your bow sight very often. Once it’s properly set up, it should remain stable unless something significant changes, like replacing your quiver or sight, or if something becomes loose or damaged.

If you are requiring frequent adjustments then something might be loose or moving, try to tighten all screws. There is also a chance that the problem is not the bow sight but other parts like the peep sight or the bowstring. The movement of peep sight can cause a need for sight tuning. Make sure these parts are not moving.

Environmental factors also cause you to adjust the bow sight often. You will have to dial windage and elevation in windy or hot conditions.

Common Errors to Avoid

While adjusting your bow sight, be mindful of the following errors:

Rushing the Process: Take your time and make small variations to achieve optimal accuracy.

Neglecting Proper Form: Ensure that your form remains consistent throughout the adjusting process to obtain accurate results.

Overcompensating: Avoid making large adjustments at once; instead, make incremental changes until the desired alignment is achieved.

What to Do Next

After adjusting your bow sight, it’s important to practice with the new settings. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the changes to ensure consistent results. Regular practice will enhance your archery skills and help you become more comfortable with the adjustments made.

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