How do I sight in my
crossbow? What are the lines for on the inside of my scope? At what yardage should I start? These are all commonly asked questions when it comes to sighting in your crossbow for the first time. Sighting in your crossbow can seem confusing, but in reality, it really is
n’t that hard. It will also give you some quality time to get familiar with your crossbow. While there are some variations to crossbow sights, this article is written assuming you are using one of the two most popular types, a scope or a red dot. One last note. I am assuming you are already familiar with the basic elevation and windage adjustments on your sight. If not, it may be a good idea to review your owner’s manual before you start making adjustments.

With both types of crossbow sights, you will find by taking a quick peak through the sight that there are multiple aiming points. With scopes, you will have multiple cross-hairs or circles, and on some models, you may have the option to illuminate these aiming points. With the Red dot style crossbow sight, you will most commonly find three illuminated dots. On some red dots, all three dots will be the same size, while others will offer dots that gradually get smaller so they don’t cover as much of your target at farther distances.

In either case, most hunters will sight the top aiming point in at a distance of 20 yards. This is a good starting point because most modern day crossbows shoot flat enough that you won’t need an aiming point at any shorter of a distance. Some of the really fast crossbows out today shoot so flat, that you may be able to sight in the top aiming point starting at 30 yards. Only a few crossbows to date shoot these kinds of speeds, so we’ll stick with the 20 yard starting point.

Now, before you move your target out to 20 yards and start shooting, it is a good idea to take a few shots at a much closer range, say 10 yards, just to make sure you are “on the paper” so to speak. If your first couple shots are close, then go ahead and move back to 20 yards. If not, make some coarse adjustments to your sight until you are in the ballpark. Don’t worry too much about hitting the bull’s eye at this point, because things will soon change when you move out to 20 yards. Now move out to 20-yards and shoot a group. Using your elevation and windage adjustments, you should now make finer adjustments to your sight until you are hitting dead center. With a little practice, you’ll be hitting the center in no time.

Now that your 20-yard aiming point is set, lets take a look at the other aiming points. Most crossbow manufactures assume that the next aiming point will be set for 30 yards. However, because every crossbow doesn’t shoot the same speed with the same weight arrow, this aiming point along with the rest of them, may not fall on perfect 10-yard increments. As a matter of fact, I can almost guarantee they won’t. But, we’ve got to start somewhere, so lets walk on back to 30 yards. You’ll want to shoot a few arrows at this point to make sure you are grouping well. You may need to make a small adjustment to correct your windage, but for the most part it should still be inline like it was at 20 yards. Your elevation on the other hand, may be high, low, or it might be dead on. If you’re dead on, its time to walk back to 40 yards. If not, here’s what you do. If your arrows are hitting low, it’s time to move forward in one-yard increments until they hit dead center. If your arrows are hitting high, you need to walk backwards in one-yard increments until your arrows hit dead center. Once you achieve this, whatever yardage you’re at is what the aiming point is going to be. Write it down so you can keep track of it. Move out to 40 yards and repeat the steps until you’ve determined where your crossbow hits for each aiming point. It isn’t uncommon for your marks to read 20, 28, 36, and 44. This is just an example and you may experience different results. To help you keep track of what aiming point to use at what yardages, you should make yourself a small cheat sheet and tape it to the stock of your bow. This will come in handy when the moment of truth presents itself and you aren’t thinking clearly.

There are a few scopes on the market today that I’ll briefly discuss. These types of scopes let you sight your crossbow in for exact yardages. One type uses computer software to calculate the exact arrow weight needed for your sight to fall on perfect 10-yard increments. This will normally result in having to change the components of your arrow to match the exact weight recommended. Other types of crossbow scopes have an adjustment ring that is indexed to match the speed of your crossbow. The ring changes the magnification of the scope so that your sight picture actually adjusts to the right ratio for your marks to be dead on. The last style has only one aiming point, but has an adjustable turret much like a tactical rifle scope. This style scope will let you dial in your exact yardage in one yard increments, allowing you to aim right on every time.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you now understand the basic fundamentals of sighting in your crossbow using a scope or red dot. Once you get the hang of it, it won’t take you long to sight in and you’ll be off looking for something to shoot.