A Beginner’s Guide to Sighting in A Crossbow
- Erik Himmel
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Since you’re on this page, I would assume you wanted to master the art of sighting in a crossbow. You might have fear or confusion whether or not the process is easy. Ask the experts; they would say it’s easy. Ask beginners; they would give you mixed opinions. So, how do you approach? Neither lightly nor indifferently! I’m guiding you through the actual process in the easiest and simplest manner. Keep reading…
Getting the right education
What’s the first step between having a fine crossbow and sighting in it? Standing away from the target, approaching it, lining up again and again and working to get a bulls-eye? No, my friend! I tell you what; the different components, such as dots, reticles, adjustment of elevation, and windage are what matter most when you attempt for crossbow sighting. Once you have got these points real clear; you’re good to move on to the step-by-step guide.
Dots and/or reticles
Look through your crossbow scope. Do you see some crosses, dots, or patterns? These are the markings that archers use for measuring the distance to the targets, aiming, and pointing them.
These are the dots and reticles! Confused! Well, don’t be!
Crossbow scopes come in two categories: Red dot (dots) and optical (reticles) scopes.
Kinds of dots
The majority of red dot scopes are available in two major variations.
- Single red dot (The typical representation is 20 yards. Hold the dot higher when you have to strike the target at a longer distance.)
- Triple red dot (Apart from the single dot, there’re two more spots to represent 30 and 40 yards respectively. These scopes are great for circumstances involving elevation, movement, and wind.)
Kinds of reticles
Optical scopes are available in both traditional and futuristic models for hunters and shooters.
- Basic reticle : (With the typical 20-yard spot, reticles come with crosshairs which when move upward indicate that you need to take a longer shot.)
- Duplex/Multi-X/Multi-Reticle/Truplex scope : (With tiny dots located at the crosshair’s intersection, these scopes facilitate one’s aiming. Both horizontal and vertical crosshairs are available)
- Focal Plane reticles : (Known as mil-based reticles, these scopes are widely recognized as tactical scopes. There’re both first and second place reticles.
- BDC reticles : (When accuracy is the foremost purpose, Bullet Drop Compensating reticles compensate for external/weather factors.)
Elevation and windage adjuster
Look at your scope. Maybe, you see adjustments knobs that stay protected by the plastic caps. Remove the caps and try to locate the windage and elevation adjustment options.
- Inspect the sides and you’ll find the windage adjustment knob. Use it to have the arrow point-of-impact adjusted in either right or the left directions.
- Look at the top of the scope and you may see the adjustment knobs for elevation which helps hunters adjust arrow point-of-impact in both up and down directions.
How can you adjust?
Uncap the knobs and start turning knobs. Do you hear a “click”? If you do, remember that each click tells the user how much of the adjustment (expressed in M.O.A.) has been made.
How can you calculate?
1 click indicates the adjustment for 1/4″ at a 100-yard distance. In other words, 1 click represents 1/20″ at a 20-yard distance. Some scopes use variable data during each click. If yours is one of that kind, I advise you to read the instruction manual for proper understanding.
Now that you got what an educated crossbow hunter knows about crossbow sighting, you can start reading the steps that show you how to sight in a crossbow.
Sighting in a crossbow: Steps to follow
In my opinion, the difficult part of the process is over. The actual sighting steps aren’t very challenging. Let’s go through each of them.
Prepare yourself and adjust the scope
Shooting arrows to land them closely to each other is what you should be able to do. It’s wise to shoot at least a few dozen arrows before sighting a scope. To rest assured that your scope is ready, you must ensure these,
- Your scope is clean.
- The mounting system fits your crossbow properly.
- The scope rings stay compatible with your device.
You already learned how to adjust the scope; I’m talking about the adjustment knobs that I’ve discussed above. So, you should be ready to learn how to mount.
- Clasp your scope onto your crossbow.
- Secure it and see that it has no interference with your crossbow.
- Mount it as low as you can, depending on your preference.
- Tighten the top rings of the scope while keeping them adequately loose, so you can move it if/when needed.
- Once you’ve determined that your scope is in the right position, you may tighten the screws of the rings to get the best fitment.
Fix your position and take primary shots
- Measure 20 yards from your target and stand right there. Standing at this distance is what the rule of thumb says. So, don’t do anything exceptional.
- Now, you have to cock your crossbow. You can do it in two ways, by using your hand or a rope. Some even do it using a crank aid. I’ve discussed how to cock the crossbow in another article. Please take a look if you don’t know how to do it already.
- Place an arrow from your collection
- Align the red dot/reticle (that stays on top) with the bulls-eye.
- Squeeze the bow trigger fast using only the fingertip (index finger only).
- Don’t move an inch. Otherwise, you’ll lose accuracy.
- After following the above steps several times (3-5 times would be enough), you may approach the target..
Approach your target and adjust your device
- Estimate the required gap (in inches) for your arrow group to go up and to the right side and for all your arrows to reach and accurately hit the bulls-eye.
- Remove the plastic cap to find the adjustment knobs and adjust appropriately. Use a screwdriver to turn the elevation knob clockwise as long as it takes you to hear 20 clicks which will be equal to 1 inch (as per the discussion above).
- Do the same for the windage knob for 40 clicks. This time, the adjustment will be made by 2 inches.
Repeat the steps
- You should take a series of shots again while standing at the same place that is 20 yards away from the target.
- Now, align the dot/reticle (the top one) with the bulls-eye on again
- Fire at least 3 arrows and see how you do.
You’re done! But don’t go elsewhere right away! Read the following cautions.
- You can always make a few more/less knob adjustments to suit to your individual hunting situation.
- Don’t lose the protective caps (of the adjustment knobs) after removing them. Keep them safely in your bag.
- Don’t take the matter ‘shooting tight groups’ lightly as it represents your focus and skills as a potential crossbow shooter.
- For scopes with one dot, sighting for any distance, from 20 yards to 100 yards isn’t a bad thing. But, those with multiple dots require that you follow the exact value because the correlation among the dots is critical to your accuracy.
Growing as a crossbow shooter and doing well in a real game require skills and coordinated efforts. While this discussion may seem somewhat difficult for beginners, you’ll certainly get the better of the sighting procedure with time. Remember you can’t get the most of your hunting glory unless you can shoot and hit accurately, and sighting in a crossbow is just the beginning of your becoming a sharp shooter.