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How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope

Targeting with a scoped crossbow
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From a beginner’s standpoint, sighting a crossbow could seem very intimidating, but this is far from the case. There is an almost overwhelming variation in the sights and crossbows models in the market. Regardless, the basic design is similar to the point that learning how to sight one type of crossbow with a particular style can give you skills you can transfer to almost all other sights.


If you are a beginner, you should attempt to shoot anywhere between 50-200 arrows before considering having a sight installed on your crossbow. This is helpful in calibrating the adjustments you have to make to ensure your crossbow is effective.

You should be able to shoot tight groups from about 200 yards. A tight group refers to being able to shoot arrows that land close to each other, preferably between 2-3 inches. Beginners will not be able to sight their crossbows effectively if they cannot meet this requirement.

Dots and Reticles

The goal is to “zero” the topmost reticle or dot for a particular distance. You should have a distance of about 20 yards to properly work tune the sight.

Zeroing refers to having the top dot or reticle properly aligned to hit a target at 20 yards. Once this is achieved, all the other dots and reticles will automatically be aligned.

Adjust Knobs

Sights will typically have two adjustment knobs, one for elevation and the other for windage.

The windage knob will typically be on the side of the sight and is used to adjust the arrows point-of-impact, be it to the left or the right.

The elevation adjustment knob is typically located on top of the scope. This allows you to adjust the point of impact, be it up or down.

These knobs are usually covered in plastic for protection, so you will have to take off the lid when you decide to use them. You will see markings on them to direct the precise level of adjustment you would like to have on your crossbow.

You might need a screwdriver or a coin to turn the knobs. Make sure to have one on hand when taking your shooting outdoors. To turn the knobs to the right, you need to turn them in a clockwise direction and the anticlockwise direction for “left”. Make sure to have the protective caps back on after use.

When you turn the knobs, you will hear distinct “clicks”. Every click you hear represents a unit of adjustment. The rule of thumb is that each click represents 1/20 of an inch at a 20-yard distance. Make sure to study the instruction booklet from the manufacturer in case the scope you own has a different set of values.

Step By Step: Sighting Your Crossbow

When attempting to add a scope, you are advised to have a shooting aid. A shooting aid makes sure the crossbow does not move when you shoot, which would result in poorer accuracy overall.

Most shooting ranges should have one on hand that you can use to ensure your crossbow is attached perfectly to your scope. However, there is little worry if you do not have access to one, as fixing your sight without one will only marginally affect your accuracy when compared to not using a sight.

Here is a Step by Step Procedure to Installing a Sight

Make sure you are exactly 20 yards from your target. Cock the crossbow using a rope, seat the arrow, and align it to the topmost red dot with the bullseye. Squeeze the trigger with the tip of your index finger. Repeat the step three times.

Approach the bullseye and make a note of where the cluster of bolts is. Depending on where they are, you should make the necessary adjustment on the elevation adjustment knob and the windage adjustment knobs to guide the target towards the bullseye.

Line up again to make the shots about 20 yards from your target like before. Align the topmost reticle or red dot with the bullseye and fire again.

Walk to the target and above once again. The bolts should be a little closer to the target. Take note of how far they are to the bullseye, and then make the necessary adjustment on both the windage and the elevation adjustment knob.

Repeat this process until you have all three bolts firmly placed at the center of the bullseye. Once you achieve this, you can consider your scope properly sighted and can now automatically be sighted for their respective ranges.

Few Things to Keep in Mind

The sighting procedure above might take longer than you might anticipate. This is especially the case if you are a beginner; the more experience you have, the less time it will take to adjust the scope.

Always ensure to keep the plastic covers on the knobs. Ensure you do not lose track of them as they are known to just disappear.

If the scope is designed with just one dot, you can sight it for any distance you wish. However, if it has more than one dot, you should make sure to use the instructed specifics on distance as there is typically a special relationship between the sights and distance.

Keep in mind that for your crossbow to be accurate, you should shoot right arrow groups first. To have properly sighted sights on your crossbow, you first have to maintain good aim and technique. Otherwise, regardless of how much time you spend on the sight, the results will be less than stellar.

Getting a professional to guide you through the technique will yield considerable results. When you are well-versed with the techniques of using a crossbow, you will get a lot more out of a well-placed sight on your crossbow.


Having a good scope on a crossbow drastically improves its utility. Though installing a sight can seem daunting, especially for beginners, the more experience you have with the process, the easier it gets. Do not forget to read the instruction manual to see if there are any special specifications on installation associated with your brand.