How To Sight A Crossbow

How to sight a crossbow? This is not an easy question to answer, especially when you are just getting familiar with this sport.

Indeed, there are steps to prepare for the crossbow before you can use and shoot the target.

Are these steps easy or difficult? How long do we have to practice before shooting a crossbow?

If you are going to be professional archery, the steps may be more complicated and require much carefulness, precision. However, if you want to know how to sight a crossbow for hunting animals or practising with stationary targets, then you are in the right place.

This article will share the best tips on how to sight a crossbow that anyone can learn and practice. Let’s find out now!

What Are Dots and Reticles?

Dots and reticles are the archery terms which indicate the parameter and allow the archer to measure things before taking a shot. So what can we measure through these dots and reticles?

These points are the marks that we use to measure the range to the target. For dots (or red dots), they are on a vertical line with different positions; each position represents for different distance to the destination. Dots only show in Red dot scopes.

In general, the top dot indicates the 20-yard range from the target, the second and the third one shows respectively 30 yards and 40 yards to the target. So, you will hit precisely to the target from the distance of 20 yards if it is on the top dot.

For reticles, they basically have the same function as the dots, but they only show in optical scopes.

Moreover, they are the small patterns that are placed in different positions to represent the varying distance to the target.

Adjust The Windage and Elevation

As you can see in the area near the scope, there are two knobs here: windage and elevation adjustment.

Elevation knob is placed on the top of the scope, which is to set the arrow impacting point upward and downward. Meanwhile, you can see a windage knob on the scope’s side that we use to adjust the arrow impacting point to the left or right. How to use these knobs?

It’s simple by opening a small cap on each knob and you can adjust the parameters as you want. On the elevation knob, rotate the knobs clockwise or anti-clockwise to turn the arrow impacting point upward or downward.

Similarly to the windage knob, turning it clockwise for right adjustment and anti-clockwise for left adjustment.

What is the unit on these knobs and how can we calculate the settings? Don’t worry much, you can refer to the following measurement, which is used widely and generally for most scopes.

This is called “Minutes of Angle” and we can convert every “click” to the unit of distance. Now you might ask yourself what the “click” is?

When you rotate the knob, you will hear a “click” inside and this sound stands for a unit of the adjustment. 1 unit you adjust represents for 1 unit of the actual distance to the target:

  • 1 click = 1/10 inch at a 40-yard distance


  • 1 click = 1/4 inch at a 100-yard distance

Also, you should bring an adjustment tool to work with it, which can be simply a coin or a screwdriver.

As I mentioned above, this measurement is used for most of the scopes in the market now.

However, some of them are not made with the same parameters and in this case, you should follow the instruction notes accompanied with the product.

How To Sight A Crossbow: The Easiest Steps to Follow

STEP 1: Prepare the crossbow carefully and take the first shot.

As this is just a practice, don’t be too nervous. Take a breath, follow these first steps and try the first shot on the target.

As we often use the unit adjustment at a 20-yard distance, let’s practice with a range of 20 yards to the target. Eyes on the target through the scope and try to align the top dot or reticle in the central point.

After aiming carefully, pull the trigger definitively with the index finger and try not to use the whole hand. Otherwise, your shot will deviate dramatically.

Repeat these steps two more times before coming to see your results. If your result is that the arrow points are gathered near the bull’s eye to the right and bottom, then it’s time to adjust the scope.

STEP 2: Adjust the scope

This result means you must turn the arrow impacting point to the left and upward a little bit. We suppose the adjustment should be 1 inch to the left and 2 inches upward.

Now, let’s remember the converting unit for a click mentioned previously and adjust the elevation, windage knobs.

For 20-yard distance, 1 click converts to 1/20 inch adjustment. We need to turn the arrow point to the left 1 inch, then rotate the windage knob anti-clockwise for 20 clicks.

We also need to elevate the arrow point 2 inches higher, then rotate the elevation knob clockwise for 40 clicks. It sounds easy, doesn’t it?

STEP 3: Retake the shots and repeat the steps for the best result

Now, let’s take the shots again after adjusting the scope following the basic measurement.

Remember to keep other steps, position, environment, etc., the same as previous so that you can compare the result clearly and effectively. If you see the result as below, then you are almost successful.

If you try for the best result, repeat the steps and calculate the adjustment more precisely.


How to sight a crossbow? This will not be your problem anymore after reading the article. We have just shared the best tips of how to sight a crossbow that everyone can apply and succeed.

Do you have any other suggestions for sighting the crossbow? Don’t hesitate to share your ideas now on below!