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How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope – Full Sighting Instructions

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Are you confused about how to sight your new crossbow scope for accurate aim? Or maybe you are just tired of wasting all those arrows and finding ways to improve your accuracy?

Well, you are in the right place. In this detailed guide, I will tell you everything you need to do to sight in a crossbow scope the right way.

Hint: It isn’t as difficult as you think!

Before we begin, keep in mind that while the basic process is the same, sighting can vary from model to model as the position of turrets or other dials, buttons, etc., might be different.

How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope – Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Understanding the crossbow

If you have never fired before using a crossbow, the first thing to do is learn about the crossbow’s basic parts and the scope. For this, you can turn to either YouTube videos or read the manufacturer’s user manual. It will also give you an image description of the parts.

Understanding these parts and their functions won’t just make sighting easy. Still, there are tons of other things you can do to improve your scope and crossbow’s accuracy and durability.

Step 2: Install the Scope on Crossbow

 If you haven’t already, you need to install the scope onto your crossbow. Make sure you mount it to the tee. From the tightness of the screws to leveling the crossbow, it has to be perfect if you want to sight in the scope correctly.

In case you do not have an idea about installation, do check out some tutorials. The user manual should also have basic instructions along with all the tools and screws needed for it. 

Premium scopes come with the scope rings, but if your’s don’t, make sure you get the right ones as they are key to a good installation.

Step 3: The initial test

Once your scope is mounted, it is time to give a trial run. The first step is to cock the crossbow with either the integrated or external rope cocking device. 

Now, load up the arrow and keep the reticle or the red dot aligned straight with the center of your target. Hit the trigger but only with the tip of your index finger, as any major arm or palm movement means you can miss your aim.

Use this technique and shoot 3-4 arrows with minimal gap between them (as long as your reticle is aligned to the target).

So where did the arrows land? Are they more to the left or right? Are they too high or low?

Step 4: Measure the distance

Next up, you need to measure the distance by which all the arrows missed the center. Don’t worry; you don’t need to go with a measuring tape and measure every angle; an estimate should be good enough.

Though make sure you do it in inches. 

Once you know the distance, it is time for the elevation and windage knobs to come to the party. 

The windage knob adjusts the arrow sideways’ movement while the elevation knob alters the movements up or down. Depending on where your arrows landed, you will have to adjust one or both of them.

Step 5: Adjusting the elevation and windage

Most of the crossbow scopes come with a covering on the knobs. The covering does not just protect the knobs but also ensures they do not change positions accidentally as you mount the scope or make sudden movements.

Thankfully, it easily comes off when needed, like right now. To adjust the knobs, you can either use a coin or a screwdriver. The best crossbow scopes come with marking and numbers for precise adjustments, but your’s didn’t always keep an ear out for a click.

With most scopes, each click means your aim adjusts by 1/20″. This means if you wanted to adjust it by an inch, you would need to rotate it about 20 times or 40 times if you wanted to adjust it by 2 inches. 

Step 6: Test it again

This test is to be done in the same manner as the last. That means you once again shoot from a distance of 20-25 yards while pulling the trigger with the tip of your index finger while keeping the reticle aligned with the bull’s eye.

Fire 3-4 arrows and then check where they land.

Did you hit the bull’s eye? Perfect, you have successfully sighted your crossbow scope.

Or maybe you didn’t hit the bull’s eye, but we’re at least closer this time. In this case, go back to the previous step and adjust the elevation and windage accordingly and test again.

Do this till you get your aim spot on. 

But what if my scope gives you range estimations?

Well, in this case, the adjustments are a tad different. You will need to set up a chronograph a few inches away from the bull’s eye before performing the initial test. 

In case you don’t have a chronograph and aren’t sure which one to get, I would recommend going with the Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph.

Once you have shot the 3-4 arrows, you need to calculate the average velocity. To do this, add up the arrows’ velocities and divide it by 3 or 4 depending on the number of arrows you shot.

Then add in the total, and voila, all your arrows will hit the spot on.

Note: One big advantage of crossbow scopes is that they have a large eye-relief (some even unlimited) which means you can place them further down the crossbow based on your comfort. This isn’t a feature you get with most gun scope as they have limited eye relief. 

Few Things to Keep in Mind when Sighting Crossbow Scope

Give yourself time if you are a newbie. While we only wrote about tests, you could just as easily need 3-4 or even 5-6 trial runs before getting the elevation and windage spot on. Even taking 30-40 minutes to sight it right is normal at first.

In case you want to cut down that time, I’d recommend using a shooting aid (the right one will half the overall time).

Once you take the covering off the knobs, make sure you place them in your bag or pockets as you can easily misplace them. These coverings protect the knobs and prevent accidental changes, which means you will not have to adjust them every time you use the crossbow (hassle-free, just the way we like it).

Just sighting the scope doesn’t guarantee you’ll hit the bull’s eye. Your technique and skills have the most significant impact on accuracy and practicing to ensure your arrows land in groups. This makes it easier to adjust the windage and elevation.


Imagine if one arrow landed on the top right corner and the other on the button left corner. Do you shift the windage and elevation the right or left, or bottom, or the top? Confusing, isn’t it?

So if your first trial results in a scattered shot, grouping is what you need to practice first.

Lastly, if you are using a multi-dot reticle, the distance you sight your scope for has to be exactly 20 yards. On the other hand, with single dot or reticle scopes, you can sight the scope at any distance you prefer (20, 40, or 50 yards, whatever best works for you).

A final thought

Well, that’s all you need to know to sight your crossbow scope correctly. Just make sure you mount it right, and from there, it is pretty much a trial and error thing that should take you less than 15 minutes to sort once you are a pro.

But initially, do take your time. Learn about the scope and the crossbow, and always have a coin or screwdriver nearby so you can make the elevation and windage adjustments in an instant.

In case you have any questions about sighting the scope, leave them in the comments section below. You can also reach out to me via the contact page in case you need more details.

About Author

James Towndrow, a NRA-certified Firearms Instructor. During a career of 18 years had won several shooting competition including major leagues. Taking all those experience down the road, is now a successful Shooting Instructor in Texas, US.