Table of Contents
First, What Types of Crossbow Scopes are in the Market?
When it comes to optics for crossbows, there are all sorts of scopes on the market. Some are not so good, and others leave you asking why it took so long to shoot with one. For magnification, you can choose from just about anything—0X to 9X. Inside the scope is the reticle, defined as some configuration of horizontal and vertical crosshairs, though for crossbows, it also includes any object projected or suspended across the field of view. Choices begin with a simple, single, or crosshair. You generally sight in for a fixed distance—typically twenty yards—but you must compensate for longer shots by holding higher. Multi-reticle scopes are the most popular these days, particularly those with three or four dots or horizontal crosshairs. The top one is sighted in for twenty yards, and the next is fixed at intervals that will be dead-on at 30, 40, and 50 yards, respectively, on most crossbows.
If you spend a your money on a crossbow, don’t skimp on the scope. It is best practices to get a quality scope.
Red Dot Sights For Crossbows
Red dot scopes are the most basic type of scope for crossbows with no magnification. All you need to do is adjust it to lie in the target and then pull the trigger. There is a wide range of brightness settings in most crossbow red dot sights. You may not need to adjust these settings for places where you have enough light.
Is a Red Dot Sight Good For Crossbow Hunting?
Red dot sights come standard with several crossbow manufacturers. Some companies refer to crossbow red dot scopes as reflex sights. Don’t let the name confuse you.
Red dot scopes are reliable and effective, and many shooters prefer this sight system instead of a traditional scope with crosshairs. They are small, lightweight, and available in multi-dot configurations, which act as aiming references when shooting at varying distances. Also, they often have low power magnification, which makes them one of the most effective scopes on the market.
A scope with a single dot can make it challenging to shoot at varying distances. It is hard, if not impossible, to be accurate at different yardages other than what the scope is sighted-in for. The scope with three dots takes care of that problem by allowing you to sight in for various yards. Without the three dots, it would be tough to shoot accurately out past where the first dot is sighted-in, which is normally 20 yards.
For fine-tuning, scopes have both horizontal and vertical dials for sight adjustments, just like a conventional scope with crosshairs that many of us already use.
How To Properly Mount a Red Dot Sight On a Crossbow
You’ll need a flathead or phillips screwdriver, a hex wrench, a vice, level, and scope rings to mount scopes.
Before you ever get to mounting the scope, you’ll need to purchase a pair of scope rings. Most crossbows have one of three types of sight rails: weaver, dovetail, or Picatinny. The type of scope rings you need will be determined by which rail your crossbow has.
The first step in mounting the scope is getting the crossbow level. The simplest way to do this is to mount the bow in a vice. Before you tighten the vice, place a level on the bow’s flight rail and adjust it until you have the crossbow perfectly flat.
The next step is to mount the scope rings (sample scope rings can be found here). It’s a pretty simple process that involves tightening the ring’s mounting hardware to the sight rail on the crossbow. If the scope rings still have their top and bottom connected, unscrew them using your hex wrench. Then, use the screwdriver to mount the bottom half of the scope ring to the sight rail. Be sure to not tighten them completely, though, as you’ll need to move them the proper distance apart to accommodate the scope.
Now that you have the scope rings mounted, you can place them into the bottom half of the rings and move them apart until the scope fits perfectly. Then, screw on the top half of the scope rings, and you’re almost ready to go.
Take your crossbow out of the vice and look through the scope. Do the dots roughly line up with where you’re pointing the bow? If not, the rings may have been mounted incorrectly, and you’ll need to start over.
How To Sight In a Red Dot Sight On a Crossbow
Items you will need to sight in your crossbow scope accurately are items you probably already have, including a stable shooting surface, a bench or shooting rest, a screwdriver to change the dials on the scope, and a good crossbow target. Inspect your scope and make sure that it is correctly mounted on the shooting rail of your crossbow and that the mounting screws are tightened like how we discussed above. If you are not shooting from a stable platform, it will be hard to properly sight in your crossbow as you will not have an exact aiming point with every shot.
You will want to begin to sight in the middle red dot sight at a distance of thirty yards from the target. Shoot two or three bolts before adjusting the scope. If your crossbow scope needs to be adjusted, change the middle red dot toward the error. For example, if your three shots form a pattern that is right and below the intended target, move your middle red dot to the right and down to the shot pattern.
Not all crossbow scopes are the same when it comes to adjusting the dials, but a good rule of thumb is to turn the elevation adjuster clockwise to move the red dot up. Turn the horizontal adjuster clockwise to move the red dot right. Again, not each scope is to be alike, so be sure to check out your owner’s manual. Also, most dials will have arrows indicating how your dots will move with each turn.
Sighting in the middle dot of a three red dot scope at thirty yards should sight-in the upper red dot at twenty yards and the lower red dot at forty yards. But don’t take things for granted. Be sure to shoot your crossbow at various yards to see how it is shooting. The ten-yard increments for the three red dots will allow you to make quick adjustments in shooting distances. Forty yards is plenty to have your scope sighted in for when it comes to shooting at game animals. Shoot bolts in groups of two or three until your shot pattern is consistently hitting the desired target.