Best Bow Sight Aiming Methods Using Pins

Jan 24, 2022Sights

If you’re using pins, there are a couple bow sight aiming methods you should be aware of. These methods will improve your skills as an archer and set you up for success. If sights are new to you, they are simply aiming tools that assist you in hitting your target with consistent accuracy. Centering the pin in the middle of the target supplies a point of reference for shooting accurately.

The challenge that many archers face while using pins is shooting in-between and long-distance shots. If this sounds like you, we’ll get you started in the right direction, shooting any distance you like out to 100 yards!

Archery Pins 101

“Pins” is a term used to describe a small part of an entire sight. Each pin is used as a reference point for a specific distance. So, if you’re shooting 30 yards, you would place your 30 yard pin on the bullseye and (ideally) hit it! There are many different types of sights, but we’re focusing on sights with multiple “pins” to benefit from these additional aiming methods.

Pins generally come in 1, 3, 5, and 7 pin configurations. You can shoot any sight you prefer, but the NFAA (National Field Archery Association) limits you to a 5-pin fixed sight…7 pins and moveable sights are not allowed unless you’re shooting the “freestyle” class (the most competitive). 5 pin sights come in all kinds of different designs with many using fiber optics for improved clarity. Personally, I use a Spot-Hogg and while expensive, it’s solid and can last a lifetime if cared for properly.

Generally speaking, 5-pin sights are set to 20, 30, 40, 50, & 60 yards. That said, it’s not the only configuration, just the most common. These pins give you an exact point of reference for each yardage and a good estimate for distances in between, which we’ll cover shortly.

Adjusting Left & Right

When sighting in your bow, it’s important to first set your “windage”, or left/right impact. If you notice your arrows grouping to one side or another, you need to move the entire sight block to compensate. This will ensure your arrows are in-line with the bullseye at any distance.

When moving your sight left or right, you must always move your sight in the direction of impact. For example, if you’re grouping to the left, move your whole sight block to the left. If you’re to the right, move your entire sight block to the right. Always follow the arrow.

When dialing in your windage, it’s best to shoot on level ground. If your bow is not level, it may throw things to the left or right. Many of today’s modern sights come with a bubble level to help you with this issue. That said, it’s always better to sight in all distances on flat, level ground. Once you’re dialed in on windage, it’s time to set your pins.

Adjusting Height

When first sighting in, you should place your 20 yard pin where you want it within the sight housing. Once it’s in a good spot, move your entire sight block up/down until you’re sighted in at 20 yards. This gives you more control over where your pins are grouped within the sight housing. This is important because you want all five of your pins grouped together in the middle of your sight housing so you can clearly see them through your peep sight.

After you’re sighted in at 20 yards, you’ll move each pin individually to sight in 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. Again, always follow the arrow when adjusting your sights. If you shoot high, move the pin higher. If you shoot low, move the pin lower. Once you’ve set all your pins, you should be all sighted in! However, you can always continue making small adjustments to really dial things in over time.

Splitting Your Pins

What Is Splitting Your Pins?

So, you have your 20 – 60 yard pins all set, but what about distances in-between? You have to split your pins. Splitting your pins is when you have to shoot distances in between set distances, like 45 yards. Since you don’t have a pin for that, you have to split your pins and estimate. The more you practice shooting odd distances, the easier it’ll become to shoot any distance you like.

How To Split Your Pins

The best way to split your pins is to pick a spot on the target and aim using one pin. For instance, let’s say you’re shooting 45 yards. You could take your 40 yard pin and aim at the three-ring above the bull’s-eye, or something similar, so you focus on one pin. The reason you do this is to have a single point of focus. Trying to focus on two pins and the bullseye all at once is a little much. It’s always better to focus on one thing at a time.

When preparing to split your pins, figure out your aiming point before drawing down. To do this, simply hold your bow up and place your pins on the target (not at full draw). Now, split your pins over the bullseye and decide if you’re going to focus on the pin above or below and reference an aiming point for one pin. At this point, you’re ready to draw your bow and take the shot.

For distances that are not an even split, use the pin that’s closest to the distance. For example, if your target is 33 yards away, try placing your 30 yard pin just above the bullseye. Like we said before, this is kind of an estimation, but you’ll zero in on in-between distances with a little practice and dedication.

Stacking Your Pins For Long Distance Shooting

What Is Pin Stacking?

NFAA archery courses challenge you with an 80 yard target, which can be very difficult. How are you supposed to do this when you only have a 60 yard pin? This is when archers use a technique called “pin stacking”. Stacking your pins is when you have to shoot targets beyond 60 yards. Using a 5 pin sight, you can stack your pins and reach targets out to 100 yards away! That said, keep in mind that anything beyond your 60 yard pin will be somewhat of an estimate. Long distance shots also amplify any issues with form, so don’t expect perfect accuracy.

How To Stack Your Pins

To get started with pin stacking, the process is similar to shooting in-between distances.
For this example, let’s say you’re shooting 70 yards. What you do is hold your bow up to the target (not at full draw, simply hold it up to the target with your bow hand). Place your 60 yard pin on the bull’s-eye and see where your 50 yard pin is on the target. Let’s say your 50 yard pin is at the top of the target. What you do is use that as your aiming point using your 60 yard pin. All your pins are 10 yards apart and by referencing the 50 yard pin and using that as your 60 pin aiming point, you’re essentially adding 10 yards.

The same goes for 80 yards. Place your 60 yard pin on the bull’s-eye and see where your 40 yard pin is on the target. Then, place your 60 yard pin at that point. The same goes for 90 yards, but you use your 30 yard pin. Keep in mind, the further the distance, the more height you want to add because of arrow decay. The further the distance, the more wind drag will slow your arrow down. For example, you may not need to add much height at 70 yards, but 100 yards may require a bit more height.

Pin Stacking Breakdown

To give a visual, here’s how pins are laid out and how you can go about stacking them for further distances. First, you reference the distance you need and then place your 60 yard pin at that location, plus more because of arrow decay (”+” indicates the degree of additional height you may need to add).

  • 20 (100 +++)
  • 30 (90 ++)
  • 40 (80 ++)
  • 50 (70 +)
  • 60

Tip: Although not technically allowed by the NFAA, some people will use their sight housing or bubble level as an additional aiming point. I’ve heard many people say they use the top of their bubble level as an 80-yard reference. This is definitely a grey area and not technically allowed, but no one really knows what you’re doing, so a lot of people do it.


Whether you’re just getting started with pins or have been shooting for quite some time, these aiming methods should improve your accuracy. Once you’ve adjusted your windage and sighted in each pin, you can start taking advantage of splitting and stacking your pins.

It’s not easy shooting in-between distances and long-distance shots with accuracy. It takes a lot of time and practice to really hone in. With these two aiming methods in your back pocket, you’ll be well on your way to shooting any distance with complete confidence.

Bass pro vertical banner


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *