Sighting in your Crossbow

The most popular sighting system used on crossbows today is the multi-reticle scope. For this reason we will focus our attention on how to properly sight in your crossbow using this optic. Assuming that you have a basic understanding of how to handle a crossbow, sighting it in is a very easy process.

Typical view through a multi-reticle scope.

Typical view through a multi-reticle scope.

First, close your eyes and shoulder the crossbow. Once the crossbow is comfortably shouldered open your eyes. You should now have a clear plane of sight throughout the entire scope. Never move your head to attain a better sight picture. If you don't have a clear sight plane through the scope, and instead have a dark or blurred view, the scope itself needs to be adjusted to find your proper eye relief. Most of today's crossbow scopes have a 3- to 5-inch eye relief range.

Using the supplied tool that came with your scope, loosen up the screws on the two scope rings. (These are the two rings that encompass the scope and attach it to the scope rail.) After loosening the rings, slide the scope slightly forward or backward. Close your eyes and shoulder the crossbow again. Depending upon the sight plane, continue to adjust the scope, either forward or backward, until complete clarity is achieved every time you shoulder the crossbow. Once this is accomplished, tighten down the scope rings.


Initial shooting of the crossbow should be done from some type of bench. Placing your target at a distance of no greater than 10 yards, align the top reticle (crosshair) on an aiming point in the center of your target and squeeze the trigger. If your arrow hits the target within 3 inches of the bull's-eye you can safely move back to 20 yards and begin the sighting in process. Your goal is to zero in the top reticle (crosshair) at a distance of 20 yards. Today's crossbows shoot flat enough that you won't need an aiming point at a closer distance.

Depending on how close you are to the bull's-eye, you will want to start making adjustments in accordance with the distance the arrow is from the bull's-eye. Adjustments are easily made by turning the elevation and windage turrets on the top and side of the scope. To do this, first remove the caps from the top and side turret. The top turret (elevation knob) will show an arrow pointing up and down, while the side turret (windage knob) will show an arrow pointing left to right. As you turn the elevation/windage knobs, you will hear a distinct click. Each click represents a certain unit of adjustment being made. Within a short amount of time you should have your 20-yard reticle (crosshair) dialed in. Once the 20-yard reticle (crosshair) is in the bull's-eye, the remaining reticles (crosshairs) will automatically be aligned for their respective distances.

Todd Bromley is a crossbow enthusiast and the founder of Crossbow Magazine.

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