Sighting in a Bow With 3 Pins: Ultimate Guide

Sighting in a Bow With 3 Pins

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Sighting an adjustable three-pin archery sight on a compound bow will ensure success on early-season hunts.  The windage and elevation are covered, as well as adjusting the sight for longer ranges in the field for longer shots.  Pin gaping will also be explored to ensure the best results for a three-pin sight. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of sighting in a bow with three pins. We’ll explain how it works, and then take you through a detailed step-by-step process. 

How Does Sighting in a Bow with 3 Pins Work? 

How Does Sighting in a Bow with 3 Pins Work

The three-pin archery sight takes the guesswork out of the arc an arrow flies after leaving the bow.  The bow sight pins’ distances are set at exact distances, letting the hunter concentrate on technique while drawing and releasing the arrow.

By sighting the pins in the archery sight during the off-season, target acquisition is faster and more accurate for the hunter. Sighting the three pins on a bow takes time, patience, and practice, but the payoff is a successful hunting season.

How to Sight in a Bow With 3 Pin Bow Sight Distance: Step-by-step solution

Step-by-step solution

Step 1: New three-pin bow sight

If this is a new three-pin bow sight, mount it to your bow.  Check your attachments and hardware if you already have the three-pin sight mounted.  When the three-pin bow sight is mounted, it is time to go to the practice range.

When you mount the three-pin bow sight to your bow, you must expose it to various conditions so the bolts stay tight.  After your mount it on the first day, leave the bow in the garage overnight, then tighten the bolts if needed.  The next day leave it in the house, and so on until the bolts do not back off their tension. 

Step 2 : Set up your own range

set your own range

It is best to set up your own range, if possible to sight in the three-pin bow sight.  You are going to spend many hours and multiple visits to get the three-pin bow sight squared away.  Start your sighting at the ten-yard line.  Before you set the pin height, you need to get the windage set correctly.

Step 3: Aim at the target

Aim at the target

Aim at the target, but leave the bowstring in place.  Point the arrow shaft directly at the center of the target, sight along the arrow for this part.  Look at the end of the three pins in the sight.  The end of the pins must be aligned with the arrow’s shaft.  If the end of the three pins is off the midline of the arrow shaft, the shot will go right or left accordingly.

Adjust the bolt to move the pins left or right until they align perfectly with the arrow shaft.

Step 4

Now, it’s time to shoot.  Pull the bowstring back, sight with the top pin end in the center of the target, and let it fly.  At this time, do not worry about the elevation; you are making sure the windage, the left and right are correct.

This is the part where patience will be your best tool. Since this is not a bench rest rifle, you must shoot this target at this range twenty times. You will see if the arrows are grouped in the correct windage or not.

If you have to move the three-pin bow sight to adjust the windage, always remember if the arrow is shooting left, move the three-pin sights to the left.  The same goes for arrows shooting to the right.

Step 5 : Set the bow sight pins distance

set the bow sight pins distance

Once the windage is dialed in, it is time to set the bow sight pins distance.

Step back to the 20-yard line.  This is the standard three-pin bow sight distance for the top pin.  Take an initial sighting, and make sure the three-pin bow sight distance will not shoot over the target.  

Place the end of the pin right in the middle of the target, and let loose.  If the arrow hits a little high or low, that may be the shooter.  Take a short rest, let the muscle fatigue relax, then take another 20 shots.

When the 20 shots are finished, you will know the average grouping of arrows, and the three-pin bow sight distance can be adjusted.

Step 6

arrows land in the bullseye

When you get the top pin of the three-pin bow sight distance at 20 yards and all of the arrows land in the bullseye to your best ability, it is time to move back to the 30-yard line.

The middle pin is the one you use now to square away the three-pin bow sight distance at 30 yards.  The yardage is automatically adjusted for the arrows arc by the manufacturer of the three-pin bow sight.

Again, shoot the twenty shots into the target; after twenty shots, you will know the three-pin bow sight distance at 30 yards is dialed in.

Step 7

Now back up to the 40-yard line.  This is the same drill as the other two distances, so I will not repeat it.  The 40-yard pin is the bottom pin, which is a bit different.  The sighting is the same, but the bottom pin is the only pin in the three-pin bow sight distance used when adjusting the sight in the field for a longer shot.

If your three-pin bow sight can adjust, the sight will have a scale along the mounting plate.  The three-pin bow sight will adjust downwards, the scale will show the new distance; this distance is only good for the bottom pin.

The top and middle pin for the three-pin bow sight distance use is gone when moved from the original set point.  To use the top and bottom pin again, return the sight to home and you are good to go. 

Pin Gap

Pin Gap

This is not a true pin or aiming point in the three-pin bow sight, it is the “pin gap.”  This means you use the gap between the pins of the three-pin bow sight for a distance shot of, say, 25 yards.  Since the top and middle pins are set for 20 and 30 yards, put the target right between the two, and let the arrow fly.

Pin gap shooting will take even more practice than sighting in the pins, but you don’t want to miss the target due to lack of practice.


What are the distances for a three-pin bow sight?

The distances for a three-pin bow sight are:

1. The top pin is set for 20 yards for most shooters.
2. The middle pin is set for 30 yards for most shooters.
3. The bottom pin is set for 40 yards for most shooters.

How important is the 3rd axis on a bow sight?

The third axis is critical for a bow sight.  If the windage is not correct, the arrow will completely miss the target or, worse, severely wound an animal, and that is unethical.

Is a single-pin bow sight better?

Single-pin or three-pin bow sight is strictly a shooter’s choice for preference.  If you are proficient at judging distance and have years of hunting with a bow, then the single pint is better for you.  If you are new to bow hunting, the three-pin bow sight is the way to go.


In this article, we walked you through a detailed step-by-step guide explaining how to sight in a bow with three pins. 

When you use a three-pin bow, sight distance will become less of a hurdle, so you can focus on other archery hunting skills, like stalking, calling, and camouflage.

Sighting in a three-pin bow sight will take many trips to the range, and long days of practice, but it will pay off in the end.

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