You may be getting good groups, but you can't seem to get near bull's-eye.
What do you do? You keep adjusting.
Next thing you know, you've run out of adjustment room whether it's left, right, up, or down.
Bow sights come with plenty of adjustment travel to get sighted-in and you hitting dead-on, so when your sight bottoms out, it's most likely not its fault.
Hear us out and check out a few things you may need to adjust before you trash your sight.
- Check Peep Height
- Check Arrow Rest Height
- Checking Nocking Point Position
- Check Center Shot
- How to Walk Back Tune Your Bow
- How to Paper Tune Your Bow
- Check Cam Timing
- It Could be the Sight
How to Fix a Bottomed-Out Bow Sight?
Have you maxed out adjustment room? Is your sight windage at max? Is your bow sight adjusted all the way up?
These are common issues that are of the same kind. They can come up when you've bought a new bow sight, have serious form issues, are experimenting with different arrows, or there's something off with your bow settings.
Before making any drastic changes to your bow sight, there are various factors you can check out and adjust to get to hitting bull's-eye. You may need to incorporate a number of our suggestions to build proper anchor points and access your sight's full range of adjustment room.
Bow Tuning Tips
Everyone always assumes they have a "tuned" bow, but whenever you change something with your setup, including getting a new sight or using new arrows, you're going to have to check your form and bow settings. If any of these issues go unaddressed, a new bow sight won't make a difference except to maybe band-aid tuning problems and encourage bad, habit-forming techniques.
Here's some detailed trouble shooting methods to run through if your bow sight has bottomed-out!
- Peep sight position
- Arrow rest height
- Nocking point position
- Center shot
- Cam timing
These trouble shooting methods may seem like extreme measures to take, and you may not want to mess with anything on your bow. However, if your bow sight truly has a lot of adjustment room, and it's just you that seems to be having this problem, you might want to check if correcting tuning issues is what gets you dead-on at the end of the day.
1. Check Peep Height
Is your sight housing all the way down? Are your pins far too close to the bottom? Are you tilting your head down just to see through the peep and the sight?
Your peep sight may be set too low.
Conversely, is your sight housing all the way up? Are your pins far too close to the top? Does it feel like a strain or struggle to keep your sights on the target?
Your peep sight may be set too high.
Improper peep location is a common issue among beginners because they're still figuring out their natural and comfortable form with correct anchor points. They may not know enough to determine if a peep sight is positioned correctly.
- If your sight is all the way down, you can first try raising the peep sight ensuring proper alignment with the sight housing. Lower the peep sight if your sight is all the way up.
- Get on paper at 10 yards.
- The idea is to see your arrow hit high if you're bottomed-out. Why high? You want to raise the sight "up" to chase the arrow. If you're all the way up and by lowering the peep, hopefully your arrow hits low so you can adjust the sight housing to come down.
- Shoot at 20 yards, make the adjustments and dial in.
Raising or lowering the peep sight has solved these issues for many shooters. One way to determine if your peep sight is in the correct position is by coming to a full draw with your eyes closed. Open your eyes at full draw with your anchor points in place and you should be able to see through to the bow sight through the peep, or at least this is a great starting point for where your peep should be.
2. Check Arrow Rest Height
Moving the arrow rest is usually a last resort for many shooters, but it could be the culprit. Checking arrow rest height is usually done when you're building a compound bow since most bow manufacturers will have it pre-installed.
Typically, you want the arrow rest to be as low as possible and close to the hand for more error-forgiving room if you have torque problems. When the arrow rest is positioned too high, torque issues will be magnified.
With that said, you'll know if it's in the right height position when you nock an arrow and center it into the rest.
- Visually determine if the arrow is properly aligned by looking at the arrow on its side.
- Arrow must be centered, meaning, it must appear to the going through the Berger hole. The Berger hole is the hole that allows the arrow rest to be mounted to the bow.
- If the arrow appears to be tilted upwards above the Berger hole towards the front end of the riser, the rest is too high.
- If the arrow appears to be tilted downwards below the Berger hole towards the front end of the riser, the rest is too low.
- Simply loosen the rest and move it up or down to center the arrow with the Berger hole.
Of course, this setting can only truly be accurate if your nocking point is in the right position, which brings us to…
3. Check Nocking Point Position
If your nock point has already been installed, it shouldn't be a big deal to double check if it's perfectly perpendicular to the string. Without the need for a bow press, you can use a bow square to get this done quickly.
- Insert the bow square into the rest and attach it to the string.
- Ensure it's perfectly aligned as your arrow would be with the Berger hole.
- Note where the "0" is on the vertical side of the bow square.
- The "0" should be in alignment to where your nocking point will be.
4. Check Center Shot
Many assume their bow is tuned for center shot, but is it really? With a correctly positioned arrow rest height and nocking point, you can check to see if your center shot is aligned correctly.
The center shot is the left and right position of your arrow rest. It's usually set to manufacturer specs that starts from the inside of the riser to the center of the arrow shaft.
You want to measure this distance at two points of reference: one at the front end of the riser to the center of the arrow shaft and the other at the back end of the riser to the center of the arrow shaft.
The two distances should be the same per manufacturer specs. If it's not, the arrow rest will need to be adjusted left or right to correct for this.
You can also confirm your adjustment settings by walk back tuning your bow.
5. How to Walk Back Tune Your Bow
The rule here is something far different to when you sight-in your bow. Normally, bow shooters are used to "chasing the arrow." This time, you'll need to move the arrow rest left or right in the opposite direction of where your arrows are landing. Here's how to get it done.
- You need a large target/backstop with tape to mark a plumb "T."
- Get sighted-in at 20 yards with the T intersection as the aiming point/bull's-eye.
- Use the same 20-yard pin (if using fixed-pin setup) for the rest of the shots for the walk back tuning test. Leave your pin in the same position if it's a slider/single-pin sight.
- Once sighted-in, step back in 5 or 10-yard increments to 50 or 60 yards if possible.
- Always aim for the intersecting point of the T.
Naturally, the arrows will drop alongside the vertical line of the T. It's now time to analyze on which side of the T the arrows have fallen.
If they've fallen along the left side of the T, you'll have to move the arrow rest to the right. If the arrows have fallen along the right side of the T, you'll have to move the arrow rest to the left.
Only very minute adjustments are required here. It's easy to over-shoot the adjustments, and you could be there all day.
6. How to Paper Tune Your Bow
Doing the paper tune test is another way to check if your arrow rest, nocking point, and bowstring are all correctly aligned. It also helps to determine if your arrows are appropriate for your setup.
Paper tuning kits are available for easy interpretation of the results. You can easily rig your own setup together if you have a suitable backstop to catch the arrow.
- Stand 4-6 feet away from the paper.
- Ensure you are using proper form without torque to eliminate the possibility of user-influenced, erratic arrow flight.
- Release the arrow.
- Examine the tear in the paper the arrow made.
Ideally, you want what is called a "bullet hole" where it looks like a rounded hole with slices extending from the hole. The number of slices will depend on the number of fletchings on your arrow.
Everything short of a bullet hole will require adjustment. Exaggerated tears in the paper are called tail tears, and they provide clues in how your arrow is flying and what you can do to adjust it.
For example: if you see fletching tears above the hole, you know the arrow is flying nose down. This is a tail high tear.
- Tail left: move rest to the right.
- Tail right: move rest to the left.
- Tail high: raise rest or lower string nocking point.
- Tail low: lower rest or raise string nocking point.
Additionally, left tails can also indicate the spine is too weak on your arrow. It might be beneficial to use arrows with stiffer spines. Right tails can also indicate the spine is too stiff so you may want to switch to arrows with weaker spines. You’d be surprised to learn that some tuning issues have cleared up just by using different arrows.
7. Check Cam Timing
The way your arrows tear in a paper tuning test can also be indicative of cam timing issues. Those with dual cam systems should check cam timing to ensure it's not contributing to trouble shooting problems.
The thing with dual cams is they must come to a full draw at the same time. It's possible for cams to be faster than the other, and it may be difficult for you to spot this unless you have a bow press. Because this fix requires a bow press, it's best to take it in to a professional repair shop.
8. It Could be the Sight
Some bow sight manufacturers might not cater for a full range of adjustment travel. You might find that a sight comes with "extra windage" or "windage extension" accessories to give you that little bit more adjustment leeway.
Most of the time, a sight that maxes out in elevation or windage can usually mean something else is off about the bow. It might be tedious trying to figure out what the cause may be, but in the end, you'll have a well-tuned bow and high-performing bow sight for the hunt. Is it worth it? When you're hitting the bull's-eye or filling your tag this season, you know it is!
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Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. When not glassing the local wildlife, you can find him in the garden with his German Shepherd.