Improve Your Aim: Using a
Sight Improve Your Aim: Using a Sight

What if your local archery store could hook you up with a device that helps you to improve your aim, and even the accuracy of your shots? Luckily, there is such a product, and it’s called a sight. Archery bow sights are devices that use a pin/pins, circle, lens or other marker to help archers hit the target. Archers generally center the sight in the middle of their target to provide a reference point for aiming.

Sights must be adjusted for the bow and distance being shot, and help you figure out how high or low, and left or right to hold your bow arm when releasing the string. They can make a huge difference in accuracy when used correctly, getting you to the center of your target faster. Here are four tips to get the most out of your sight:

Technique is tops

Basics like the way you stand, and pulling your string back to the same place on your face every time, are important to master before using a sight.

This archer isn’t using a sight, and that’s okay; she might be a brand new shooter, or may have chosen to shoot without a sight. Either way, basics like the way you stand, and pulling your string back to the same place on your face every time, are important to master before using a sight.

The basics of good shooting form – how you stand, your posture, and especially your anchor point (the place on your face that you draw the bowstring back to each time) – need to be consistent before you can get the most out of a sight. That means your draw hand must stop in the same place every time. Using a recurve bow as an example, the distance you pull the bowstring back determines how much energy your arrow carries as it leaves the bow. If the length you pull differs each time, you will see huge up and down variations in your shots. A similar idea applies for left and right hits. If your hand or the bowstring touches your face when you release one arrow, but the next time your hand or the string is 4 inches from your face, you will see lots of left and right variations in your shots. This is why it’s important to shoot properly before using a sight.

Follow your arrows

This sight, with three pins, is perfect for a compound bow, whether shooting backyard targets or bowhunting. The pins can each be moved so that they're accurate for a specific distance.

This sight, with three pins, is perfect for a compound bow, whether shooting backyard targets or bowhunting. The pins can each be moved so that they’re accurate for a specific distance.

Use the adage “Follow the arrow” to remember which way to adjust your sight, whether you shoot a compound bow or a recurve. Move your sight in the direction of your arrows on the target. If your arrows hit low, move the sight down. If your arrows hit right on the target, move your sight to the right. If your arrows hit low left, move your sight down and to the left. This is a simple rule that everyone forgets at least once, and some archers will say it seems counter-intuitive. However, if your arrows are hitting low, and you move the sight down, in which direction will you need to move your arm to center your sight on the target? (Hint: up). In other words, “following the arrow” helps you to move your arm in the correct direction. That’s the sight doing its job.

Be smart about your adjustments

As you become a more skilled archer, you'll be able to take advantage of sights with greater functionality. Like these recurve sights, many brands offer different color options and many different features.

As you become a more skilled archer, you’ll be able to take advantage of sights with greater functionality. Like these recurve sights, many brands offer different color options and features.

Don’t just grab the sight and move it without looking carefully. Count the turns or watch the marks on your sight. If you’re shooting at a bullseye target and three arrows hit high in the outermost ring, move your sight up (following the arrow that’s high) 10 lines. Shoot again. Let’s say three arrows hit low in the 1 ring. If you’re paying attention, you know to move the sight back five lines. In other words, split the difference between your first attempt and your adjustment.

Don’t stop at one

It's important to shoot several arrows to make sure your sight adjustment is truly accurate. Here, an archer practices using compound bow, and a sight with multiple pins. Image: Bowhunting.com

It’s important to shoot several arrows to make sure your sight adjustment is truly accurate. Here, an archer practices using compound bow, and a sight with multiple pins. Image: Bowhunting.com

Shoot several arrows before making adjustments, unless you’re dangerously off target. If your arrows are on the target, but not hitting the spot where you’re aiming, shoot at least three arrows or perhaps more before adjusting the sight. Look at the entire group, find the middle, and use that point to adjust your sight. For instance, if half your arrows are above your mark and half are below it, don’t adjust your height. But if every arrow is right of the mark, adjust your sight to the right.

With practice and some thinking, you’ll be hitting your mark in no time!

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