How To Adjust Crossbow Scope?

Setting and adjusting a crossbow scope is one of the major tasks to carry out before using a crossbow for hunting, shooting targets, or any form of shooting sports. 

For starters, it will be good to know what a crossbow and a crossbow scope are, what they are used for, and the importance of a scope on a crossbow. 

Crossbows are weapons that are ranged using an elastic launching device that is almost the same as that of a normal bow. They are used for hunting, shooting targets, and other forms of shooting sports.

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A crossbow scope, on the other hand, is a scope designed for a short distance of 20 to 50 yards distance. 

As the name implies, a crossbow scope works hand in hand with a crossbow which is also a short-ranged weapon. 

A good crossbow scope does not only aid in making a shooting activity fun but also helps it to utilize the features of a crossbow. Learning how to adjust a crossbow scope is something every shooter should do. 

Also, a scope helps to increase accuracy, especially in live target shooting. An accurate shot prevents an animal from getting badly wounded as much as possible. 

More so, a crossbow scope lengthens your shooting range. With proper adjustment, a crossbow can go far beyond 50 yards which is said to be the maximum range of a crossbow. 

Setting a crossbow scope is an easy task if you are at home with the weapon. However, for a beginner, it may seem tough because they probably do not know what is what on a scope. 

The major thing to know is the components of a scope such as reticles, dots, elevation, and windage adjustments. When you are at home with these, you can begin setting your scope. 

This article will address the step-by-step procedures that an entry-level shooter can leverage while setting a crossbow scope. 

Before you delve into setting a crossbow scope, you should get to know what it is made up of, to make your journey an easy one 

Components of A CrossBow Scope

The crossbow scope has dots, reticles, elevation, and windage adjustments which help in making striking a target an easy task

Dots And Reticles 

They are located inside the lens of the scope. When you look through the scope of your crossbow, you would see some lines, dots, or patterns. They are the marks used by shooters in measuring the distance, aiming, and pointing to the target. 

To differentiate between the two, the dots are the red dots, while the optical scopes are the reticles. 

There are majorly two kinds of dots. The single red dot is represented at 20 yards. However, when you may want to shoot a distance longer than 20yards, you will have to hold the dot higher. 

The triple red dot is the kind of red dot scope used for long distances. It works perfectly well when there are elevation, wind, and movement situations. 

The reticle on the other hand has different types. 

The basic reticle spots about  20 yards distance. It has crosshairs that show when you need to take a longer shot if moved upward. 

The Multi / Truplex reticle has tiny dots located at the crosshairs’ intersection. The scope aids your aiming. Also in terms of crosshairs, it has horizontal and vertical crosshairs. 

The focal plane reticle, also known as the mil-based reticle is popularly known as a tactical scope. It comes as both first and second-place reticle. 

Also, there is the Bullet Drop Compensating (BDC) reticle, which is mostly used for its external, weather, and accuracy features. 

Elevation and Windage 

They are found in a close section of the scope. Again, when you take a look at your scope, you’d see some adjustment knobs that are covered by caps for protection purposes. Within the caps are the elevation and windage adjustment options. 

Look closely at the side, you’d find the windage knob. It is used for making the POI (point of impact) move either right or left directions. 

Also, take a look at the top of the scope, you’d find the adjustment knobs for elevation. It helps the shooter in adjusting the bolt of the crossbow’s point of impact in upward and downward directions. 

The Adjustment processes of An elevation and windage. 

Remove the caps covering the knobs and turn them in any direction. In doing so, you’d hear clicks. Each click helps in telling the archer how far they have gone in the adjustment. The clicks are usually expressed in MOA( Minutes of angle). 

How to Calculate The Click of Windage and Elevation

When you turn the knobs, one click shows that it has adjusted for ¼ inches at a distance of 100 yards. Therefore it means that one click stands for 1/20 inches at a distance of 20yards. 


However, this calculation varies from scope to scope. It is therefore advised to go through the instruction manual of your scope properly before you start your adjustment. 

How To Mount A Crossbow Scope

When mounting a crossbow scope, clasp it on top of the crossbow. After that, secure the scope and make sure it has no interference with your crossbow. 

Next, mount the scope as low as possible, depending on your choice, then tighten the top rings with a screwdriver. But, endeavor to keep them a little bit loose to enable movement when needed. 

After you have ascertained that your scope is in the right position, you can tighten the screw with a screwdriver to enhance the result.

Things To Take With While Setting a scope For A Target shooting Practice 

  • A Crossbow 
  • A crossbow scope 
  • Arrows: It is very important to go with arrows while setting a crossbow scope. You would use it to test your accuracy. However, it is more important to go with arrows of the same make or at least of a similar make. It will make your work easy. 
  • A binocular: This object is optional. However, if you prefer to see your performance on the target board from a distance, you can take it along with you. It will save you the stress of going up and down.
  •  A target: It is the tool you practice on. You use it to achieve your distance from where you are. A four-sized target is very much preferable. It gives you space and allows you to utilize the scope properly.  
  • Screwdriver: it is a handy tool that becomes useful easily. While mounting the scope on the crossbow, you can use the screwdriver to tighten the screws. It saves you the stress of manual labor. You can use it to adjust any of the knobs.

Steps On How To Set A Crossbow

Scope: A Beginner’s Guide

1. Prepare Yourself and Take a position 

Most people shiver when they are about to do what they have not done before. That may be your case as a first-timer bow shooter.  But, that should not be your case. 

Do not forget to go with arrows of the same make or at least a similar arrow for your test.

There is nothing to be tensed about in setting a crossbow scope. Therefore, comport yourself, take a position and be ready to take your basic shots. 

2. Take a position and take the primary shots: 

Before adjusting a scope, it is advisable to take some preliminary shots with it. It enables you to know the next line of action. 

To start with, make a measurement 20 yards away from where you stand and place your target (Get a good size target, preferably a four-size target) right there. 

After that, cock your crossbow using either your hand or a rope. Make sure the red dot is aligned to the bullseye. Squeeze the trigger as fast as you can making use of the tips of your index finger. 

Do not shake or move while you take the shot otherwise, it would affect the accuracy. It is advisable to mount your crossbow on a stable stand or a rest to ascertain the accuracy of the shots because it is hard to correct a human error. 

Take the shots at least three to five times before you begin to adjust the scope. 

It gives you a heads-up on what to do at the next stage. 

3. Go Look at your target to know how to adjust your scope

After the shots, go to your target and estimate the inches it would take your arrow group to go up and also the right side to hit the bullseye. 

Usually, after the initial 20 yards shot, you won’t miss again. 

Also, you may prefer to go with a binocular to observe your performance from a distance. It takes away the stress of walking to your target board and coming back. It also saves the time that you would waste walking to your board and coming back. 

To adjust the knobs, Go back to your crossbow, uncap the plastic cap covering the adjustment knobs. Go ahead and adjust them following your initial estimation. 

If for instance when you took the shot at 20 yards, it went high, follow the instruction on the adjustment knob for elevation to bring it down. 

Also for the windage, if at 20 yards you are hitting to the left, turn the knob to the right. 

You can use a screwdriver to turn the elevation knob in a clockwise direction for how long it would take to get 20 clicks. 

Move to the windage knob and do the same for it for 40 clicks. 

Adjusting the elevation and the windage prepares you for the next stage. 

4. Take the shots again 

After you have reset the crossbow scope to a finer adjustment, take the shots again following the setting of the scope, the distance at 20 yards, and dot aligned to the bullseye. Go through the process of cocking your crossbow and squeezing the trigger. 

This time, the arrow should hit the target correctly. 

Also, remember that if you are using a reticle with multiple dots or cross hairpins, you would want to set it on the uppermost dot or pin before you take the shots.  

5. Adjust your scope for the next range and take some shots. 

Having gone through the first stage, it is advisable to try to work on other ranges too. All you have to do is adjust your target to a distance of say 40 yards away from where you are. After that, you align the dot to the bull’s eye and take some shots. 

That is all it takes to set a crossbow scope. 

However, some scopes are usually calibrated differently. After the 20 yards distance, the next distance may be  28 or 34 yards instead of 30 yards. 

The best thing to do would be to shoot with a guessed adjustment after which you will go ahead estimate the inches, take the shots again and write it where you can always see it to enable you to use it the next time. 

Note that the process of sighting a crossbow scope varies from one scope to another, but the primary process is the same for the scopes that have decent optics.


An awesome scope should have outstanding magnification. It shouldn’t be heavy (if you avoid a heavy scope, avoid the long scopes). Also, go for scopes with nice illumination you can use for hunting from dusk to dawn. Get a scope that does not have a stray light to you will regret ever buying one. Look out for scopes that have a moderate field of view, good center tube diameter, and exit pupil. More so, get a waterproof scope and weatherproof. Look out for a scope that has a good warranty and durability. 

Most crossbows usually begin at a range of 20 yards or 10 yards. Therefore it is advisable to start from the least range on a crossbow. After that, you can gradually increase the yard distance. 

When it comes to reading the lines on a crossbow scope, the first thing you should know is that in most scopes, the first line is usually 20 yards distance. For such scope, the next line will be 30 yards, because scopes increase at a range of 10yards. Therefore, the formula is Line1 =20 yards, line 2= 30 yards, line 3 = 40 yards, and so on. However, some scopes are calibrated differently following a certain speed. For a bow that shoots at a range of 350 fps, 30 yards would be 27 yards. This is majorly because of speed frequency.


Setting a crossbow scope is a task that can be considered relatively easy for a beginner. This is because they may not have been conversant with the major components of a scope. 

For a beginner, you need not fret even if you have not seen a bow before. All you have to is to follow the simple steps one after the other. 

First of all, go through the process of mounting the scope on the crossbow, it is part of the setup. After that, remember to find out the components of a scope which are dots, reticles, elevation, and windage adjustment knobs. 

Also, remember how to calculate the clicks and how to adjust the elevation and windage knobs. 

Similarly, do not forget that crossbows and arrows shoot at a different speed. On the other hand, a crossbow scope may be calibrated differently. Always look at your instructional manual before any form of adjustment to avoid errors. 

Moreso, remember to set your distance, along with the dot to the center of the target, aim, and shoot. 

If you can adjust your knobs properly and align your dot to the center of the target, you will be able to keep your crossbow and scope calibrated for as long as you want. 

Furthermore, do not forget to go with arrows of the same make or at least a similar arrow for practicing. A binocular will also be in handy as it would give them access to see your performance on a target from a distance, saving you the stress of going to and for.

A screwdriver should never be found wanting around you. You would need to tighten the screw when mounting the scope on the rails. You will also use it in making some adjustments during the adjustment of elevation and the windage. 

If you adhere to all these, setting a crossbow scope won’t be a chore for you.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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