Archery Sight Marks (Nail it like a pro!)


A sight mark in archery is very important. Any good archer should have a sight mark. I remember I went to a competition and set up my bow, but I couldn’t remember my sight mark. Safe to say, I nailed the six ring during sighters.

But what are Archery sight marks? Archery sight marks are the positioning of your sight on your sight bar in relation to your bow. A typical sight can be moved in six directions. Adjusting any of these will affect your aim. There are many factors that will affect your sight mark.

Here’s a list of the most important ones:

  1. Sight picture
  2. Weather
  3. Lighting
  4. Anchoring
  5. Arrow

In this post, you’ll learn all about the main factors that affect your compound bow sight marks.

Adjusting Sight Picture

When I say sight picture, what I mean is the picture you see when you look through your peep. It is determined by what hole you put your sight bar into. There is a correct sight picture for everyone, but everyone will be different, all dependent on the peep insert, anchoring, and draw length.

I’ll give you some examples of some sight pictures. Let’s say you anchor and look through the peep, and you can see your sight and the area around your sight.

That means your sight is too far away, meaning you have got to push your sight bar back in one hole, and that in turn will change your sight mark.
Let’s now say you anchor, and you’re only really seeing the lens and your sight pin. It means your sight is too close to you. You have to push your sight bar out, which again is going to change your sight mark.

You want your sight picture to be that you can see your sight but nothing else around it. How I would get a general sight mark is by just starting close to the target so I can’t miss. Then I adjust my sight. Then I walk back about 10m.

Then shoot again and adjust my sight and then go back another 10m, and keep going until I am at the correct distance.

How Weather Effects Sighting

There are some obvious ones like rain and wind, but there are also some not so obvious ones, so let’s talk about them.

Rain – Everyone’s favorite. Now depending on how heavy the rain is, your sight mark can change. If it’s just kind of drizzling, your sight mark may go down a few clicks.

But if it’s raining heavily, then expect your sight mark to change quite a bit. But no matter what kind of rain, your sight mark will always go down. When you shoot your arrow, the rain is hitting the arrow in the air and pushing it down.

If the rain is constant, then it’s just like shooting normally, but if it’s not constant, as in the rain is on and off, then you may need to gap shoot. Gap shooting is intentionally aiming your arrow in a different spot on the target in order for your arrow to land in the 10.

Here’s an example: Let’s say in the rain, your arrows go down and left, and when it’s not raining, you hit some 10’s. When it rains, you don’t have to move your sight. You aim high and right.

The same ideas apply to the wind as well. In the wind, however, it’s a lot harder to execute good clean shots, and sometimes even when you do, they may not end up in the 10. But if the wind is constant, then it is manageable, but unfortunately, it usually is not.

Sun – The sun is one that no one really thinks about. But if it is a nice day and the sun is beaming down on your bow, that can warm up the limbs of your bow. It’s not causing any harm to the bow, but it’s like it’s getting the bow warmed up by taking a couple of shots. So only slightly will change your sight mark.

How Lighting Effects Sight Marks

Here’s one that applies to both outdoor and indoor. For outdoor, it usually doesn’t matter. However, I have been in some cases where it does. The targets were in the shade by these big trees, and it made the target really dark for me.

Now how this affected my sight mark. Well, I felt I was over aiming. Making a very conscious effort to put my sight pin in the middle when I couldn’t see it. So I was doing all sorts of things to compensate, trying to gap shoot, moving my sight around.

The point is if you can’t see the target in good enough light, then you won’t be able to make clean shots. If you don’t do that, of course, your sight mark is going to change.

Now for indoors, it’s the same idea. But it affects you more. I have been to some shoots where the lighting in the hall is not great, and for indoor, there’s a lot more aiming needed as your ten ring is so much smaller.

It’s the same deal with over aiming making the conscious effort to try and put it in the ten ring. However, I have a small trick that I use indoors.

I carry with me all my inserts in a little box. If the targets are not bright enough, I move down in size to my inserts to try and get more light in my peep. The only downside to this is the target becomes a little fuzzy, but every little thing helps if the light is poor.

How Anchoring Effects Sight Marks

I’m sure almost every archer has heard of the phrase in archery, “Any small adjustment on you or on the bow is a big adjustment on the target.” So then you might be asking why we are not talking about execution rather than anchoring.

Here’s why. Us archers nine times out of 10 know if we had a bad shot, it usually has to do with releasing. So we aim to have the releasing the same every time. But more often than not, you’ll have an offshot thanks to releasing, and you don’t adjust your sight for a bad shot.

However, anchoring is the number one thing archers should nail down. Your anchor should be second nature to you. If something very important like your anchoring is inconsistent, then your sight mark will be all over the place.

You may have one anchor for one session and therefore have one sight mark. But in another session, you may anchor differently, and then you will have a different sight mark.

You can practice consciously trying to make your anchor the same every time. You can put your jawline between your knuckles as a good reference point.

How Arrows Effect Sight Marks

Now we all know that again, any changes you make on the bow affect your sight mark. But I think some people sometimes think arrows are just arrows and that they will group no matter what. But that’s not altogether true.

So let’s state the obvious. Shooting my alloy x23’s at 18m is not going to be the same sight mark as shooting my carbon ones at 18m. However, the sight mark would be similar but not the same.

But sometimes I go to outdoor competitions, and I see some guys shooting with some of their fletches halves on. Now, this might be because they hit it off another arrow, but in that case, you should have a spare arrow.


If your fletch is hanging off your arrow, it is going to fly a little bit different than the rest. Another time I say a guy shooting with some of his fletches on crooked. Again, the same story, they are going to fly differently. Don’t think just because you’ve got three fletches on your arrows. They will all fly the same.

You’ve got to make sure that when you are fletching your arrows that the fletch starts at the same measurement all the time and has the same angle on it.

Related Questions

Archery bow arm position? Most coaches will likely prefer a straight bow arm since a straight arm is more stable than a bent. What is more important is that the archer is comfortable and can replicate the stance consistently.

Arrows shooting left? Most aiming issues are caused by the archer’s technique, but if all your arrows are shooting left, adjust your sight to the left to correct it.

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How to adjust your bow release

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Rogan Cunningham

Rogan Cunningham is an archer and writer for shootingcabin.com. He's a proud member of the National Archery Squad. He writes about his archery training, archery shooting, travelling with the national archery team, he also reviews all kinds of archery kit. He only writes about archery, what can I tell you?..... He's an Archer!

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