Bow Hunting: Tips for Sighting-In, Tuning Your Own Gear

Bow Hunting: Tips for Sighting-In, Tuning Your Own Gear
Take control of your bow shots and shoot with confidence. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

You've been dependent on friends and bow shops to tune your bow and heads. Why? This is your season to take control.

By Dan Beraldo

Do you rely on a pro shop or friend to sight in your bow because it seems too difficult? Really?

Grab a pair of Allen wrenches and follow these simple sighting-in and tuning tips. You'll take control of your bow shots and shoot with confidence.

We bowhunters are an independent bunch. You'll feel better carrying a rig that you've tuned into the field. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)


After arrows have been selected, cut and built for my specifications, the first thing I do is paper tune my bow using arrows tipped with field points. Season after season, I am always glad I do.

By shooting through paper from a few feet away and evaluating the paper tears, I can quickly dial in my rest and nock height. That way, my arrows launch straight out of the bow so the nock-end perfectly trails the point-end. The arrow should punch a perfect bullet hole through the paper.

If the tear is torn towards the left or right side, that means the arrow rest needs to be adjusted. If the tear is high, the nocking point should be lowered or the rest can be raised. If the tear is low, the nocking point should be raised or the rest can be lowered. A right tear requires the rest be moved to the left and a left tear requires the rest be moved to the right.

Tears can also indicate an arrow spine is too weak or stiff. And when dealing with a dual tear, always adjust the vertical tear first. Making small, tiny adjustments will promote level nock travel and consistent accuracy.


After paper tuning, it's time to hit the range. One of the most common methods for sighting-in your bow is walk-back tuning. This ensures your horizontal or windage is tuned and set correctly. I first use a Sharpie to number the fletching on my arrows to better keep track of each arrow's flight patterns.

Put a number on each arrow so you can identify ones that fly true. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

Grab a few arrows, and use that Sharpie again to draw a line top to bottom, in the middle of your target. Be sure to utilize your sight's bubble-level, which helps ensure a consistent anchor point.

To start, use your top pin and stand 10 yards away from your target and shoot at the line. Don't worry about hitting your aiming-point now; just focus on hitting the line. If your arrow hits to the left of the line, you can move your rest to the right. And if your arrow hits right, move your rest to the left. These should be fine adjustments — moved just a slight touch in most cases. Because you have already paper-tuned the bow, these adjustments should require very little movement. Shoot a few times to make sure you hit the line every time before moving on.

Next, step back to 20 yards. Using the same pin and aiming point as you did at 10 yards, shoot another arrow. It will be lower but should be in line right below your first arrow. If not, make the same small adjustments mentioned above.

Step back to 30 yards and repeat, and then 40. Be sure your target is big enough to allow for the drop at longer distances. After ensuring your rest is tuned and your windage is set, now step to 20 yards and sight-in your top pin so it hits the vertical point you are aiming at.

Once your top pin is sighted-in, proceed to sight-in your other pins and distances. After sighting-in, you can shoot through paper once again to see if any adjustments made in the field affected the tears. Occasionally some bows inherently produce very small high or right tears, even when shooting straight arrows. These small differences typically aren't enough bowhunters will notice when practicing.

After field points have been dialed in and shot regularly, it's time to transition to broadheads.


I spend hours shooting my hunting arrows. While it does take a small investment to purchase an extra pack of broadheads, I consider the cost to be minimal for the confidence it provides. Done right, I can utilize a three-pack of broadheads specifically for practicing for multiple seasons.

Take control of your bow shots and shoot with confidence. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)

Many manufacturers advertise that their broadheads fly just like fieldpoints. Well, don't count on it. Some do. Some don't. Far too often, bowhunters head straight into the season without shooting their broadhead-tipped arrows. You can't use most mechanicals with most targets. You just won't get them out. But many companies make practice-style heads that look and fly like real broadheads but don't open and have dull edges.

You really need to shoot your hunting heads and arrows. You'll want to tune, inspect and re-shoot, over and over again. I even go as far as shooting the expandable-style heads into a layered target to check flight. I can get them out and use them again with that style target.

Re-sharpenable broadheads give you the advantage of making them like new again after a practice session.

A few modern fixed one-piece designs, like G5 Outdoors Montec and NAP's HellRazor, are durable and deadly accurate.

If you get a flier, that is, an arrow that consistently hits outside the pack, simply unscrew the broadhead and retighten it, or even swap out a tip from another arrow to bring that arrow right back into the group.

We bowhunters are an independent bunch. You'll feel better carrying a rig that you've tuned into the field. You'll also have complete confidence that you will hit the spot you aim at. And that's invaluable for a hunter.

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