How to Use Compound Sights – 8 Tips to Improve Aim

You’re still new to archery and thus don’t expect to be perfect, but after a few months of regularly practicing, you’re not thrilled with your aim. You’ve decided to outfit your compound bow with a sight so you can improve your accuracy. How do you use the sight?

Here are 8 tips for using compound bow sights for better aim:

  • Start with a longer bar length 
  • Select between one pin or multiple pins
  • Consider pin fibers 
  • Sight-in your bow
  • Practice basic shooting form
  • Use a magnifying lens
  • Fire a few arrows before adjusting
  • Adjust to the direction of the arrow

In this article, we’ll elaborate on the above 8 tips, providing much more detail and actionable information so you can begin using compound sights and feel like a more accomplished archer! 

8 Compound Sight Tips to Try Today to Improve Your Aim

Start with a Longer Bar Length

Compound bow sights include bars with selectable lengths. The longer the bar, the further away the sight housing is from your bow. These long bars can often be shortened or raised.

An adjustable bar length is ideal so you can shift the bar depending on why you’re using your bow. For example, if you’re hunting, a shorter bar length is preferable so branches and brush don’t get caught in your compound bow. 

For archery beginners like yourself, we’d suggest a longer bow length. Why? The shorter the bow, the less aiming precision you have. You also won’t be able to see the pins as they move; we’ll talk more about pins in a moment.

You can always shorten the bar length as you gain more archery experience and feel like you don’t need to use a compound sight as a crutch anymore, but don’t start with a shorter bar. You’re only making archery more difficult for yourself, and who needs the extra hassle? 

Select Between One Pin or Multiple Pins

Okay, as promised, let’s talk about compound sight pins. Your sight housing will include pins, either a single pin or a series of them. If yours is a one-pin housing, you can adjust the positioning of the pin; that’s not the case for multi-pins. Those are instead stuck in a fixed position.

What do the pins do? They refer to distances. For instance, let’s say your compound sight had housing with up to four pins in it. The pins denote distances of 20 yards, then 30 yards, and so on up to 60 yards. 

Bowhunters often take the multi-pin approach to hunting, as their aiming reference will be fixed. This way, when an animal wanders into their sight, the bowhunter can retain their aim and then fire. 

A single-pin compound sight comes in handy for other purposes, namely, target archery and some bowhunting. If you need a reference for your aim and you care less about the distance, then a single pin is great. As you’ll recall, you can set the position of the pin, adjusting it between 10 and 100 yards. 

When setting the distance of the single pin, you must accommodate the flight speed and the weight of your arrow. 

You can buy compound sight pins in a variety of sizes, some that are as small as .010 inches and the largest which are .0129 inches. Larger pins are more visible, but they also obstruct part of your target. Smaller pins will require more precision to detect but leave your target free and clear. 

Consider Pin Fibers

Another disadvantage of small pins is that as you lose daylight, the pins are practically impossible to see. That’s why, when considering your compound bow pins, you’ll want to mull over the fiber length.

Longer fibers make sight pins easier to see, as they can hold onto more sunlight and transfer that to your pin head. If you’re an archer who regularly practices early in the morning, after dusk, or in a deeply forested area, then you want longer pin fibers. We’d also suggest them for beginners regardless of the time of day you most like to practice. 

For those archers who usually fire in the bright light of day as well as more experienced archers, shorter fibers are okay for you. 

Sight-in Your Bow

Another facet of good aim is sighting in your compound bow. To sight in the bow means you level your sight and tune your bow for better accuracy. You’ll know you’ve correctly tuned the bow if the nocking point and the rest are aligned. Your arrows will also shoot reliably straight.

Okay, so how do you sight your bow? It differs whether your compound bow uses a single-pin or multi-pin sight. 

Starting with sighting in a single-pin sight, the first step is to void the sight tape. Sight tape is often included with single-pin sight bodies, acting as a guide to the yardage you’ve customized. By voiding the sight tape, you can reset it to 20 yards.

Then adjust the sight pin, pushing it up until it resists. You should have a target that’s 10 yards away to help you set up. Shoot at that target, aiming right for the center. If the arrow is firing lower, then the pin is in the correct position for now.

Next, move the pin both horizontally and vertically so your arrow is behind the pin. Shoot another arrow, this time from 20 yards away. Set your sight tape to your indicator, then shoot an arrow from 30 yards, making another mark of your location on the tape. Do the same from 40 and 50 yards.

Shoot one more time from 60 yards and add that mark to the tape as well. Now that you have the yardage marks in your sight tape, you’re sighted in.

Okay, so that’s how to sight in a single-pin bow, so now let’s discuss what to do for multi-pin compound bows. 

Begin by firing at no further than 10 yards, selecting a big target with a bullseye in the middle. Rely on the top pin to help you aim. The next pin for 20 yards should be higher on the scope so each pin has room. Lock the pins in one at a time. 

Then fire an arrow from 30 yards, aiming for the center of the target but using your 20-yard pin for aim. Rather than shift the scope as you did the first time around, you only want to move the pin. That will continue to be the case for every pin in the rest of the sight.

Once you’re standing 40 yards away, you should see a space between the 20-yard pin and the 30-yard pin. By shifting the pin that will become the 40-yard pin, that gap will decrease. Repeat the steps until you set your 50-yard pin and the 60-yard pin. 

Practice Basic Shooting Form

Here’s a tip that will improve your compound bow aiming accuracy regardless of whether you use a sight. Take the time to practice your form. 

We really can’t stress this enough. If your posture is slumped, then how can you expect to fire an arrow straight? If you’re standing incorrectly, that can absolutely impede your accuracy as well.

Most important when practicing your shooting form is designating your anchor points. We’ve discussed anchor points on the blog before, but it’s been a minute, so let’s do a little recap here. 

Anchor points are visual references you use to ensure your alignment and form won’t shift as you shoot one arrow after another. They’re critical in making accurate shots. Your anchor points have to be comfortable, accessible, and easily identifiable. Repeatable anchor points are also recommended. 

Whether you choose your peep alignment, string-to-mouth area, nose-to-string area, or your hand contact as your anchor points, you should start using them going forward. Having anchor points will make a big difference in your archery abilities! 

Use a Magnifying Lens

Here’s something else we recommend for beginner archers using a compound sight: try a magnifying lens. Target archers frequently reach for sight housings that boast these lenses, but you should as well even if you do archery for hunting.

What does a magnifying lens do, you ask? The lens allows you to more precisely see where your target aim is. The magnification can also help you improve your steadiness as you hold the bow since you’ll be clearly able to see what you’re doing. 

Magnifying lenses work best with single-sight pins, FYI. 

Fire a Few Arrows Before Adjusting

Even if you take the time to sight in the bow, you’ll have to resight it from time to time. You might decide as well to make other adjustments to your compound sight. 

Here’s what we’d suggest. Before you begin wildly tinkering, look at your sight marks or note the number of turns you make as you adjust. More importantly, don’t just shoot one arrow and then keep adjusting your compound sight.

Instead, shoot three arrows or more, then make an adjustment. If you’re still not pleased, then shoot three more arrows in the current compound sight configuration and then adjust again. 

Adjust to the Direction of the Arrow

This last tip comes in handy for recurve bows as well as compound bows. When making any sight adjustment, do so following the direction of the arrow as your guide. Shift your sight so it’s facing the same direction as the arrow does when it’s aimed at the target. Then let a few arrows fly.

Are you hitting the target on the lower left side? Shift your sight towards the left and down. Are your arrows hitting center down? Then just tilt the sight down. It might seem really easy, almost too easy, but this rule is key in improving your accuracy.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re struggling to shoot accurately with a compound bow, the 8 tips we compiled for you here today really ought to help. With some additional tools and a better understanding of the sight tools already at your disposal, you’ll begin hitting targets in no time!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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