How to Sight in a Crossbow

Let’s presume you have everything you needed and are ready to get started. You will then place your target or yourself at 20 yards (18 meters).

Tip: Remember to have a backstop, something behind your target that will stop your arrow if it gets through your initial target.

For better result, I suggest you put your crossbow on a fixed tripod or anything that can support the crossbow like a bench to minimize movements (for greater stability). You will then look into the scope and place the upper dot or reticle dead center in bull eyes of your target. Once you will set this one, the remaining dots or reticles will be automatically aligned at their respective distances. There are charts explaining the effect of distance on the arrow drop but the manufacturers simply resume it for you with others dots or reticles.

 Multiple Red dots Scope
 How to Sight in a Crossbow                      How to Sight in a Crossbow
Multiple Reticles Scope


For the scope with only one dot or one reticle, distance doesn’t really matter for the sighting-in. But let’s say that 20 yards, is less long to walk to see result then 60 yards.

Now that your setup is in place, cock the crossbow manually or with a cocking device and re-aim the upper dot or reticle dead center of your target. Press the trigger quickly without really touching the crossbow to keep testing the accuracy. Repeat the same steps until you shot 3 arrows.

Analyze your results by taking measurements from your arrows to the center of your target. If it is in bull eyes, don’t change a thing. If it is otherwise here is how you will fix your problem.

 How to Sight in a Crossbow

Barnett Crossbow Scope 4x32 w/Scope Rings

On your scope, you have elevation and windage adjustment knob which are meant to allow correcting your bolt trajectory upward or downward and left or right.  Some knobs are protected by caps, so you will have to take them off but be careful to not lose them.

 How to Sight in a Crossbow

Elevation adjustment knob:  This knob is meant for up or down point of impact adjustments.

Windage adjustment knob:  This knob is meant for the left to the right point of impact adjustments.

Notes: It is possible to have two windage knobs which make it easier to adjust because both sides determine their specific direction (left for left and right for right).


Adjusting the knobs

Most scopes are usually based on 100 yards for adjustments. To make changes you have to turn them clockwise or counterclockwise. One click is 1/4 of modification on 100 yards so you if you bring it to 20 yards, you must divide by 5. A click will be then 1/20 of modification on 20 yards, not 1/4 anymore. So at 20 yards, 1 click = 1/20 of modification, you would then need 20 clicks to move a full inch your arrow impact on the target.

Tip: If your scope uses another method of calculation it will be mentioned in the owner’s manual.

 How to Sight in a Crossbow


For example, you obtain that grouping, it would be one inch down and two left. So to adjust the grouping you will have to turn the elevation clockwise (go Up) 20 times/clicks and windage clockwise (go Right) 40 times/clicks to make it dead center. Remember, you will have some scope to take off the protective caps and please don’t lose them.

 How to Sight in a Crossbow

In the case it still off center like on this picture. Bring it back (counter clockwise) about 10 clicks each. Repeat the process of adjusting the right knobs until you reached the desired precision. 

Sighting-in and tuning your crossbow should be something you do here and there to keep your accuracy as sharp as your broadheads are.

If sighting-in is a difficult process for you, you might have to consider a crossbow shooting stick or a bipod to help your steadiness. Those tools are made to stabilize you aiming to facilitate the calibration.

After sighting-in, you are more than ready to shoot like a pro. Next step is simply to go get some fun with your crossbow!

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