How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope

How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope in 2023

Don’t know how to sight in a crossbow scope? Well, don’t worry, you aren’t alone because many searched for that too, that’s why we came up with this step by step guide, so keep reading it.

Sighting in any level of weapon can be a daunting task, but it’s just as important as cleaning and lubing your crossbow to ensure accuracy once you’re out seeking prey.

This is critical because incorrect markings on your scope’s view may throw off your aim, making it difficult to harvest the game effectively with your crossbow.

Crossbow scopes are sights used to improve accuracy and prolong the distance over which a crossbow can be effectively aimed in the sport of archery.

In popular culture, where modern accessories may be implemented for dramatic purposes, crossbows are more often portrayed as using optical sights than their historical equivalents.

Sight-in processes are almost identical across each scope. There are, however, a few minor changes to be made in that the sight-in process for any particular scope will vary based on the type of scope used.

It’s wise for hunters – and the savvy hunter-to-be, to pay attention to all of the details involved when putting a bow together. A crossbow is no different. You want it to fetch its prey swiftly and confidently every time. To do this, you need to follow proper protocol in confirming that your scope is calibrated appropriately.

We know that you are eager to start using your crossbow in the field, but not so fast! Before you start firing away at some targets, it’s important to have a proper understanding of how the sighting process works and what type of scopes are most effective for hunters.

First Notice What Type of Scope You Have?

When sighting in a scope, it’s important to first determine what type of scope you have. You may need to find out from the manufacturer if your scope is a variable power or not because there are different techniques for each exercise.

Information provided directly from the manufacturer will include info on the scope’s magnification, usually around the 4x mark. You should also find out what FPS the scope is calibrated to (or capable of reaching).

How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope

How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope?

Multi-Point Reticle Scope:

A multi-target scope makes use of multiple aim points on a reticle in order to shoot targets of varying distances as long as each point is properly set for the distance at which it’s being utilized. These lines on your multi-reticle scope allow you to shoot at a distance without having to compensate for the drop of a projectile in the form of gravity.

The reticle is the thing that you should definitely focus on when using a scope. You’ll have to make sure that your target’s in its line of sight, and also match it with the right marking on the scope according to how far away it is.

For instance, a scope can have horizontal and vertical crosshairs or markings indicating the pre-determined distances of 20, 30, 40 yards. Note that if your scope does not have variable power zoom capabilities (i.e. 1x-3x magnification) then keep in mind that the pre-set distance markings are adjusted to the speed of a specific type of crossbow bolt.

The scope you pick for your crossbow depends on what FPS rating you want. If the arrow will be traveling at 300 feet per second, then the scope needs to be dialed in just below that at 295 feet per second. Anything within 5 FPS should suffice as well. 

It’s advisable to check the sight of a crossbow before making a purchase. Most crossbows come with pre-installed sights, but you must double-check this.

How to Sight-In a Multi-Point Reticle Crossbow Scope

You should have elevation and windage adjustment knobs on your multi-reticle crossbow scope but no different levels of speed dial. You will be adjusting the dials at a series of distances by turning them inward or outward just enough to account for the distance you are aiming.

The elevation adjustment knob is found on the top of your scope, allowing you to adjust your bolt’s accuracy up or down.

The windage adjustment knob is used to adjust your scope’s accuracy from left to right. You will easily find it on the side of your scope. 

Regardless of the scope you choose, there are knobs to adjust and there are adjustments that need to be made during the sighting process.

To sight-in a multi-point reticle crossbow scope, follow the steps below.

Step One: First, it is important to find your target. Do this by having the crossbow in its sights and at a distance of 20 yards. Once you have located your target, aim for the center bullseye on the chest with five shots in rapid succession without moving off that spot or adjusting elevation or windage adjusters on the scope. After doing this multiple times successfully, move on to step two.

Step Two: You’ll need to know the distance of your deer stand or deer blind for this step. Assuming you will be hunting from a tree, it’s important to pace out the maximum distance that you could shoot. One yard is equal to about 1.2 paces (approximately). This means if 24 paces equal 20 yards, 36 strides would equal 30 yards and 48 steps would make 40-yards wide!

After determining the distance which is maximum covered by you. You can now move forward to the step three. 

Step Three: It takes a certain distance to get the perfect shot. If you are within your maximum shooting range, try taking multiple shots and adjust your windage and elevation knobs as needed until you land on target once again. To make this task easier, place your target on the ground where it will be approximately 30-yards away. Using a sight that has knobs for windage and elevation, adjust these until you are consistently hitting your target once again.

Step Four: Move the target back to 20-yards and repeat the entire process from there again. When you are able to hit it consistently at this distance, move your target back once more. Once you’ve achieved success with that range, then go for 40-yards one last time before ending the practice.

Step Five (The Last One): The target should be placed at the hunter’s maximum distance of 40-yards from them and aimed within a few inches. To make sure it is in an animal’s vital zone for when hunting, you should check before beginning the process to see where its head will be located if your shot were to miss.

If it is off by a lot, then start over again with placing another target on top of that first one and marking out new aiming points.

Red Dot Scope:

red dot scope

Red dot scopes tend to be preferred by soldiers, whether they’re in a helicopter or on the ground. This type of scope doesn’t magnify but rather offers a wider field of vision and provides the user with a heads-up display that allows for ease of aiming. This can give one an advantage when being attacked from multiple angles and is especially useful when you’re on the move!

For instance, if you were stalking a whitetail deer that was moving toward a small copse of trees, the red dot scope will help you identify that and therefore decide on waiting for the right moment to make sure that your shot hits its mark.

What seems like the ideal solution to one problem may create a new set of complications because it may overlook some other factors that could lead to consequences you would rather avoid.

Red dot sights are best for hunting in the early morning and dusk, as well as when it is raining or snowing. When you look at the red dots during low light, they are usually illuminated. However, some hunters complain that it is difficult to see them if there is a lot of sunlight or midday.

If you need long-range precision, scopes with red dots are perfect for raising your crossbow and especially for hunting animals that spook easily. It will allow you to get instant shots on your target and still raise an accurate shot within seconds.

How to Sight-In a Red Dot Crossbow Scope

Sighting-in a red dot crossbow scope is not as difficult as sighting in a multi-point reticle scope, although the process is fairly similar.

Step One: Can you see three red dots below the top dot? If so, then your scope has a multi-point red dot sight and the distance to each point is marked in 10-yard increments. If you only have one red dot, like a rifle sight, it is recommended to sight-in that first at 20 yards.

Otherwise, if you are using multiple red dots for a shotgun or hunting rifle this should be done with the top dot. If these two recommendations sound confusingly similar – don’t worry; that’s because they’re similar. 

Step Two: Place your target at the 20-yard marker. Then, take multiple shots using the top marking and adjusting both elevation and windage screws until you are getting tight groups inside of it. Once this is complete, sight in on the second red dot with a scope for 30 yards and then do that same process for shooting out to 40 yards.

Test your second and third dots at 30-yards by placing the target at its respective distance. Likewise, use a black dot for 50 yards.

Speed Dial Scope:

speed dial scope

These scopes have a dial, which can be adjusted to change the power and also turn on different reticle patterns. They may or may not have an unlimited number of points like variable-power rifle scopes do in that they are multi-point reticles only with no dots (a single crosshair). These are also known by variable power scope. 

Variable power scopes are a feature that allows crossbows to be adjusted for different shooting speeds by setting it for your particular firearm.

If you are not sure how fast your crossbow shoots, the first thing to do is try it out. You can also figure it out by looking at the manufacturer’s specifications and reading up on what a chronograph is in order to get better information.

How to Sight-In a Speed Dial Crossbow Scope

Getting your speed dial crossbow scope sighted-in is similar to getting your red dot or multi point reticle scope sighted-in.

There is one major difference to note between a crossbow and an ordinary bow: the bolt must be fired before it can hit its target.

Crossbows don’t fire their bolts at a constant speed. They have an FPS, which is basically how many times they can be shot per second. Crossbow manufacturers recommend checking your crossbow’s FPS in order to determine what the optimal speed of firing it should be since each one will vary based on a number of factors.

 The best way to do this would be by using a chronograph, or if you’re not sure exactly what that is – simply looking up online and consulting handbooks for your specific model!

Step One: Start by adjusting the scope’s speed dial to match your crossbow. When you do this, it is possible that you’ll need to adjust it again later on, so right now make sure it is as close a match as possible.

Step Two: In order to adjust your scope, you need to set up a target at 20 yards. Then group the shots with the windage and elevation knobs until your bolts are hitting inside the bullseye. Once this has been accomplished, move onto step three.

Step Three: Now, you should move the target to 40-yards and take multiple shots. Next, if your bolts are not shooting straight in terms of right to left because your scope was sighted-in at 20 yards and it is now off left or right, go back and re-sight in at 20 yards.

Step Four: if you are experiencing the flying shoots you can adjust your shots, increase or decrease the speed on the speed dial. A good general way to do this is by aiming for center of the bullseye and testing shot placement until you are grouping your shots into it.

You should also make sure not to change anything with regards to elevation knob setting-just use only the speed dial when adjusting fire power.


If a crossbow’s scope is not calibrated for the desired FPS, then the ballistics pre-set by the manufacturer will be wrong.

Actually, Most recurve bows have an FPS of near 300. If your bow has a higher FPS, say above 330. The recommended distances are roughly 30 yards for the 20-inch rule, 40 yards for the 30-inch rule, and 50 yards to maintain better accuracy using the Traditional Archery Target standards than with the NFAA or ASA standards.

After taking into consideration important aspects like whether you plan to hunt from a tree stand or sitting on the ground, type of game you’re after such as smaller varmints or big game like deer and elk, one has to decide which specific brand of scope he’d rather purchase.

Additionally, if you’re a frequent hunter who finds yourself outdoors practicing your marksmanship skills at a variety of different times, chances are you’ve experienced having to hunt during the evening hours.

This can be more challenging as there’s usually not a whole lot of light out at that time, but that can be handy for predators – it gives them an advantage over humans because most people are weary about going out in low-light conditions. 

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