How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps)

Here I will walk you through the process of how to use compound bow sights with 25 years of archery experience. I cover the types of sight including pin and peep, what they do, and how to use them.

Compound bow sights come in many varieties, and each has its own characteristics and advantages. I will help you chose the right compound bow sight for you and walk you through the proper steps for using a bow sight.

You can learn to use a compound bow sight following these five easy steps:

  • Decide Which Type of Bow Sight You’d Like
  • Mount the Pin-Sights to the Bow
  • Using the Sight
  • Adjusting the Bow Sight
  • Practice and Correct Problems

Step 1: Decide Which Type of Bow Sight You’d Like

There are a lot of different models of bow sights out there. It can be difficult to know which one would be the best for you. Selecting the right bow sight can be a daunting task because of the sheer amount of models and types out there.

Type and Advantage of Bow Sights

Compound bows allow you to fit two basic kinds of bow sights; the movable single pin sight and the 3-pin sight. Both of these types of bows are made of extremely light materials such as plastic or aluminum. Hence they do not add much weight to the bow. (1, 2)

Bow sights also have both elevation and windage adjustments allowing you to fine-tune your pin to hit the target every time. Sights also come in both standard size and youth size. All the hardware you need to mount them is included in the sight, so you do not need any extra equipment to mount them. Here are the fundamental types of bow sights discussed in detail.

3-Pin Sight

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 1

The 3-pin sight is one of the most common sights archers use with their compound bow. It has a horizontal shape and a rounded hood which has a spirit level attached. The hood also has three fiber optic pins. The spirit level allows you to keep your bow upright, so your elevation and windage adjustments do not get mixed up and work properly.

The hood is usually brightly colored for better visibility against the background. The pins are also thin but brightly colored to ensure that you can aim perfectly while still being able to see the target clearly.

Single Pin Sight

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 2

The single pin sight appears quite similar to its 3-pin cousin, having around the hood and a spirit level. But the hood only has one pin placed vertically, usually of green color. Some of these are equipped with a light source that illuminates the pin making it visible against the background.

The primary advantage a single pin sight has over a 3-pin sight is the increased visibility. The single pin does not disturb much of the background, allowing you to see the target clearly.

Peep Sight

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 3

You might also want to attach a rare sight called a peep sight to your bow set. Peep sights are not included in bow sights and have to be bought separately. They work with your existing 3-pin or one-pin sight to offer extra alignment. A peep sight is attached to the string, and when you draw, they allow you to see through them. A peep sight helps you align your eye, allowing you to target the target from the right angle.

Apart from these, it’s also common to find 4-pin and 5-pin sights. The next steps walk you through the steps for using your bow sight properly.

Step 2: Mount the Pin-Sights to the Bow

Once you have decided which bow sight works best for you, it’s time to mount the sight on the compound bow.

You can find two sets of mounting holes, each with three holes, at one end of your bow sight. The screws that go into these mounting holes are included with the bow sight. You can use a Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew these screws and place them.

Place your compound bow horizontally such that the outside is facing towards you. In the middle of the bow, you’ll see a mounting plate with screw holes. This is where you screw in the bow sight.

With the bow lying horizontally, place your sight over the mounting plate and screw it in such a way that it is sticking upwards. Lift the bow vertically and make sure the sight is level with the help of the spirit level.

Step 3: Using the Sight

On the 3-pin sight, each pin is used to shoot at a different range. The rages depend on the sight and other factors specific to your bow, such as the draw weight. The top pin is used for shooting the closest target, the middle pin for midrange targets, and the lowest pin for faraway targets. You will have to determine the exact range for each pin yourself.

Using the single pin, you’ll have to adjust for different distances yourself. The sight includes a distance selector, and you can only adjust the pin for one range at a time.

Table for Yardages

For the 3-pin sight, you will use each pin for roughly the following ranges.

  • Top pin: 15 yards
  • Middle pin: 20 yards
  • Bottom pin: 25 yards

You can also increase the distance between these ranges. Another common configuration is;

  • Top pin: 15 yards
  • Middle pin: 30 yards
  • Bottom pin: 45 yards

Step 4: Adjusting the Bow Sight

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 4

In order for the bow sight to work, it has to actually point to where the arrow is going to hit. It’s impossible to predict how the bow sight should be adjusted to hit the target consistently. You will have to make adjustments using the feedback method.

The next step describes how to know the right adjustments to make.

Step 5: Practice and Correct Problems

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 5

Shoot a group of arrows aiming at the bull’s eye. If the group is centered on some point that is not the bull’s eye, your site needs to be adjusted.

The bow sight should be moved in the same direction as you are missing. Say your group is hitting the bottom left of the bull’s eye, you need to move your sight a little downwards and a little to the left.

Keep shooting groups and using the feedback of these groups to make adjustments till you hit a perfect group.

Step 6: Stance

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 6

Stance is one of the most important prerequisites of a good shot. A proper stance allows you to use your right muscles as you shoot calmly at the intended target.

The spirit level on the sight can give you some feedback on your stance. If it’s not level, you’re probably not standing right.

Step 7: Sighting in at 20 Yards

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 7

Standing 20 yards away from the target, shoot a group as described in step 5. Depending on where the group focuses from the target, adjust your pin (or your top pin if you’re using a 3-pin sight) till your groups start centering on the bull’s eye.

You have successfully sighted in at 20 yards.


Are compound bow sights perfect?

It depends on your skill. There cannot be a pin for every range and an adjustment for every distance; you have to learn which pins to use and when to shoot in between the pin from experience. Unlike digital bow sights, compound bow sights are not perfect.

Can I use my compound sight for a 100-yard distance shooting?

Yes, you can. You just have to figure out the right pin adjustments.

How can I accurately shoot without a sight?

The only way to shoot accurately without sight is instinctive shooting, which requires a lot of practice.

It is hard to accurately shoot without a sight, but is it possible?

Yes, it is quite possible. Expert shooters today can shoot perfectly without using sight. It takes a lot of practice.


Compound bow sights are one of the most important components of a bow set. They allow you to focus on your target and aim accurately, which improves accuracy and consistency. They assist as navigational tools for the field. Compound bow sights may take some time to learn and to gain insight into their adjustments, but once you know how they work, they can allow you to hit the target every time.

(1) plastic –
(2) aluminum –

How helpful was this article?

Were Sorry This Was Not Helpful!

Let Us Improve This Article!

Please Tell Us How We Can Improve This Article.

About Andy Ryan

How To Use Compound Bow Sights (In 7 Easy Steps) 8Certifications: Sc. Kin. - Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
Education: University of Denver
Lives In: Denver

My name is Andy and I am the author and creator of Archery Power, I have been in the archery industry for many years and it’s my true love and passion. I am an instructor and maintain a Certification. It all started as a kid where me and my dad used to go hunting with a crossbow, since that time I have been obsessed with the sport.