How To Sight In Crossbow Scope? (All Types Explained!)

Before the start of hunting season, one of the crucial questions is how to sight in a crossbow scope. Many new crossbows are now sold with the scopes, but you have to double-check to ensure your bow is sighted correctly.
By Rebecca Rios | Updated On November 17, 2022
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How To Sight In Crossbow?

For a beginner, how to sight in crossbow can be a question. The process of sighting in the crossbow is relatively simple. But it can be bothersome if you do not know the exact way to sight in crossbow. So, learning and practicing is always a good option. The sight in the crossbow scope is crucial as it is the hidden key behind accurate and fatal shots. Understanding the correct procedure for sighting the crossbow is essential for beginners and intermediate hunters. Since some scopes are not easy to handle for sight in process. With proper knowledge, you can perform the job in several easy steps.

Before the crossbow hunting season starts, ensure accuracy by sighting in your crossbow. You must also check the accuracy between the shots and adjust your bow accordingly.

Related Article: How Far Will A Crossbow Shoot?

How To Sight In Crossbow Scope?

You have just pulled a new crossbow set out of the box. Craving to run toward the jungle after getting a new crossbow is real. You can smell the woods while hunting a whitetail deer. But hold on, you have to learn to sight in the bow first. The sight-in process will take little time and is easier than you think.

Three different types of scopes are used for hunting. The sight in the crossbow scope is changed according to the different functions. The procedure of sighting is almost similar in all three types. However, only a few changes are applied according to the crossbow scope. The types of crossbow scopes are:

  1. Red dot.
  2. Variable power scope.
  3. Multi-point reticle.

In this article, I will elaborate specifications of three different scopes and their proper procedure for sight in. So, read the article till the end.

Essentials To Sight In The Crossbow:

Before landing on the procedure, note down the items that will be required to perform the task;

  • Binoculars or spotting scope.
  • An owner’s manual or instructions book of your crossbow for guidance.
  • A chronograph.
  • Arrows with field points.
  • A set of screwdrivers for handling the windage and elevation of the scope.
  • Crossbow sighting stand. It can either be a tripod or a bipod.
  • Crossbow targets.
  • Stable shooting surface.
  • Rangefinder.
  • And obviously, your crossbow with the scope.

Elevation And Windage On a Scope:

Elevation and windage are two knobs on every scope that are used to sight the crossbow. These knobs are protected with plastic caps. The plastic caps are removed for the adjustments. Do not lose the protective caps of the adjustment knobs. Be careful and keep them in a pocket instead of a table or ground. These caps love to hide and seek, so they disappear suddenly without notice.  

  • Elevation adjustment knob:

It is used to alter the arrow point-of-impact up and down. The location of the elevation adjustment knob is at the top of the scope.

  • Windage adjustment knob:

It provides left and right adjustment of the arrow point-of-impact. The location of the windage adjustment knob is at the side of the scope.

You may also like: How To Build A Crossbow? A Detailed Guide To Homemade Crossbow

Identify Your Crossbow Scope For Sight In:

Before shooting and sight in procedure, verify the type of crossbow scope you have. Understand the requirements and specifications; in short, gather all the essential information related to your crossbow scope. Also, get to know the FPS with which your bow can shoot. You can seek help from the owner’s manual.

Before answering how to sight in crossbow with scope, let me briefly review types of crossbow scope. It will help you to know your scope in a better way.

Red dot scope:

Red dot scopes are also known as holographic scopes. Red dot scopes provide a wider field of vision. The broader view can help you keep both eyes open. As a result, you can easily observe your target and nearby view of the target. Red dot scope is best if your target is running or continuously moving. A magnification can restrict the peripheral view, but the red dot is not magnified at all.

Take the example of a running whitetail deer. Let’s suppose the deer is running towards a grove of trees. With a red dot scope, you can easily see the running deer and grove of trees. Therefore, you can hold the shot till the deer slows down. However, with a magnified view, you cannot see the grove of trees toward which the deer is running.

A red dot is the best crossbow scope for fast shooting. It gives more accurate shots even of the running animal or for the animals that spook easily. You can quickly raise your bow and focus the markings to give a perfect fatal shot in no time.

Another feature of red dot scope is that it allows you to see correctly in dim light. As red dot scopes are illuminated, according to some hunters, they cannot see clearly in midday or during a lot of sunlight. So, red dot scopes are effective during dusk, rain, snow, or early in the morning.

How To Sight In Crossbow With Red Dot Scope?

Check if your bow has three red dots or only one. Three red dot scope is more popular than the one-dot scope. If you have one dot scope, then any distance can be sighted in with that single dot. Sight in 20, 30, or even 75 yards is possible with a one-red dot scope. If you have three red dot scope, sight in at the top red dot that is at 20 yards.

Red dot scopes have both vertical and horizontal dials for the sight in modification. So, let’s begin with the easiest way to sight in crossbow;

  1. Examine your red dot scope. It should be properly arranged on the shooting rail of the bow. Check mounting screws too. They should be tightened.
  2. Set up your target at a distance of 20 yards or less. Shoot from a balanced and stable object.
  3. Ensure that the range is clear before loading the arrow.
  4. Load an arrow in the cocked crossbow.
  5. Shoot the first arrow, and it should hit the target.
  6. Shoot two to three bolts before adjusting the scope.
  7. Now, shoot multiple shots focusing on the top marking. Adjust the windage and elevation knobs until you target your bolt inside the bull’s eye.
  8. Shoot the bolts in groups of two or three until you constantly hit the required target.
  9. When you are done, the second and third red dot are successfully sighted in at 30 and 40 yards, respectively.
  10. Sight in your red dot scope at different distances from the target.
  11. You can check the sight in of second and third red dot at 30 and 40 yards by the suitable marking and keeping the target to its respective distances.  

Examine the red dot scope battery for the proper installation. Make sure to use the bolts approved by the crossbow manufacturers.

As a caution, place fingers and hands below the flight track. Also, wear eye protection while sighting in and shooting with the red dot crossbow.

Variable power scope:

Variable power scopes are also known as speed dial scopes. Variable power scope has a feature of adjusting the scope with different speeds by dialing in the scope. But before changing the scope’s speed, you should know the speed of your crossbow. Crossbow speed can be figured out from the instructions manual. You can even shoot your crossbow through a chronograph at a pro shop. So, variable magnification is an excellent feature of speed dial scopes. Variable power scopes are simple and easy to use. They offer great clarity of the targets even at a greater distance.  

How Does a Variable Power Scope Work?

A variable power scope is called variable power and speed dial due to changing magnification power with the adjustment of the speed dial. The exhaustive process is described below;

  1. The foremost step should be determining the speed of the crossbow. The process of finding the speed is mentioned earlier. A chronograph and manufacturer’s manual will help you in this regard.
  2. Now, adjust the dial on the scope according to the crossbow speed. The dial should be set close to the arrow speed or crossbow speed.
  3. Start the shooting by setting the target at 20 yards with a rangefinder.
  4. Utilize a 20 yards dot to hit the target from the rest to 20 yards. Modify windage (left or right) and elevation (up and down) of the scope; then again take a shot with the same arrow at the same distance.
  5. Repeat the process until your target is focused at the same spot. Strike the target at the same point, and then place the elevation cap back on the crossbow’s scope.
  6. Now, it is time to adjust the target at 40 yards with the rangefinder.
  7. At 20 yards, set your scope to zero with the windage and elevation adjustments.
  8. Shoot the bow at 40 yards with a 40 yards reticle.
  9. Observe the point where your bolt hit the target. Is the elevation of the crossbow high or low?
  10. If the arrow shows a high point, tune the speed dial to a higher speed. Alternatively, set the speed dial to a lower speed if the arrow is at a low position.
  11. Make sure to keep the elevation functions the same at this point. Only use the speed dial for adjustments.
  12. Now, check the accuracy of the sight in of the crossbow. Set the target back to 20 yards and hit with a 20-yard dot. Your arrow should strike the proper elevation if you have sighted the crossbow correctly.

Multi-point reticle scope:

The second name of the multi-reticle scope is drop-compensating reticle scope. The name multi-reticle is suggested as it contains lines, dots, and marks for accurate shots are different distances.

The favorable aspect of multi-point reticle scope is illuminated markings. While shooting in minimal light, such as early in the morning or dusk, the markings of this scope brighten up with green or red light. Hence, it helps you to see clearly in low-light situations.

How To Use a Multi-Point Reticle Scope For The Crossbow?

All steps should be done properly to achieve a high level of accuracy. The process of multi-point reticle scope is cited below;

  1. Place the target at exactly 20 yards.
  2. Test fire the crossbow by using the top horizontal dot. At this point, adjust the elevation and windage adjustments if necessary. The prime focus is to hit the bull’s eye continuously.
  3. After constant shots, now move the target close to the desired distance. If the desired distance is 40 yards, move your target to 30 yards. If the distance is 50 yards, move the target to 40 yards.
  4. Use a second horizontal line (from the top) to sight in the crossbow at 30 yards. Use a third horizontal line (same from the top) to sight in the crossbow at 40 yards.
  5. Test fire and then consistently hit the bull’s eye. You can make adjustments in the elevation and windage adjustments.
  6. 30 or 40 yards is zeroed, and it is time to check the 20 yards setting.
  7. Move the target back to 20 yards and test fire using the top horizontal line. Your bolt can hit high or below 20 yards, but your goal is to penetrate the bolt into the animal’s vital organs for a fatal shot.
  8. For the final step of sighting in the multi-line drop-compensating scope, you must verify your setting at the point where you have zeroed the scope.

Read As Well: How To Cock A Crossbow?

Effective Tips To Sight In The Crossbow:

Any process can be made easier and simpler by applying the beneficial tips from the experts. I am listing a few practical points to sight in crossbow scope;

  • If you are following proper procedure for sighting in the crossbow, but an increment from 10 yards is not happening. Then, you must be missing something. Consider the complete process again and make the changes if necessary to enhance the speed. You can change the adjustments on the speed dial.
  • For sighting in and shooting, always use arrow shafts and broadheads similar to the ones you will use while hunting.
  • Check and set the required speed before starting the sight in the crossbow scope.  
  • Use a razor-sharp broadhead for hunting purpose. If you are utilizing the same broadheads for hunting and practicing, then it is recommended to sharpen the blade again. You can even replace the blades before the next shot.
  • Many people use different targets for crossbow use, which is not recommended. Use the targets that have been designed for your crossbow. Since all backstops and targets cannot be used with every broadhead.
  • Always shoot at a farther distance of at least 40 to 50 yards.
  • For sight in the crossbow, it is convenient to use a shooting bench or support for perfect stability.
  • Make sure to keep the direction of the loaded crossbow downwards.
  • A locking ring is used to secure the scopes on the speed dial. You have to unlock the ring before the adjustment. Then, lock it again when you are done.
  • Target shooting should be practiced in a safe zone, such as a shooting range.
  • It is advisable to bring extra broadheads just for the sighting purpose.


Practice is what makes you an expert. Practice often. Practice safely. With improved expertise in shooting, sighting a crossbow becomes easier. Please focus on the limitations and requirements of your crossbow and its scope. Learn the broadhead combinations with which your crossbow shoots.

The practical sighting process can take more time than the procedures mentioned above. To achieve perfect accuracy and precision, you may have to make certain amendments to the knob adjustment.

I have elaborated on all the details of how to sight in crossbow. Hopefully, you find this guide helpful. Wishing you luck on your crossbow hunting venture!


Sighting the crossbow is easier than it seems. With practice and focus, the process can be made more accessible. Also, shooting aids made the whole process less complicated.

If you are a beginner, it will take a little longer to sight in the crossbow as compared to an expert. However, on average, 20 to 30 minutes are more than enough to sight in the crossbow scope.

There is no standard measured distance for the sight in the crossbow. The distance depends upon the expertise of the hunter and the type of crossbow being used. However, the estimated best distance to sight in crossbow for whitetail deer is typically 40 yards. The distance for a lethal shot can be 20-30 yards for small targets. And for giant animals, the distance increases correspondingly. So, 40 yards can be taken as an average distance. The primary goal of the target shooter is to sight and zero the crossbow at 20 yards.

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