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Re: Crossbow Sights - Multiple Questions(Very Long response!)

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  • D Humberson
    Hi Sigfried! I m a crossbow shooter, I use a rear sight, and have also shot without one. Of the Aethelmarc GMB crossbow shooters I know at least somewhat
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 1999
      Hi Sigfried!

      I'm a crossbow shooter, I use a rear sight, and have also shot without one.
      Of the Aethelmarc GMB crossbow shooters I know at least somewhat personally,
      two shoot without a rear sight and one other shoots with a rear sight. Most
      Ludicrous crossbowmen with which I am familiar shoot with some form of rear
      sight, of which more later. I'll try to focus my comments, so expect some

      >>The main problem I have found myself to have - is the 'immediate'
      >on a new range. That is to say, it takes me a while each time I approach a
      >new range to get my sighting points down ... and often enough, you don't
      >have time to shoot multiple ends at each range to get yourself feeling
      >confident ...

      This sounds like you may be gap shooting with the crossbow. Are your aim
      points specific terrain features?

      >a) Probably a silly question, but how period were sights? I've never seen
      >pictures of them, in fact, the only 'evidence' I have is the Renaissance
      >sight that Iolo sells for his crossbows. They seem to be a fairly simple
      >idea though ...

      Depends greatly on what period in history and where. 'Die Armbrust', a
      German work on crossbows, shows things at the rear of the bow which pretty
      well have to be sights. Iolo has probably handled more period bows than
      most of us put together will ever see, so if he says he can document such a
      sight I believe him.

      >b) How period (probably NOT is my guess) are the 'standard SCA sights' that
      >I see people using. Which are the sheets of metal punched with holes (or
      >the more adjustable 'tracks' with screws in them that can be moved up and
      Left to those with better docs. The tracks I've seen were either straight
      mounts of compound bow hunting front sights, or such sights with a small
      washer soldered or brazed on the pin to serve as an adjustable peep. Straps
      with one or more holes drilled in them are also usually peep sights, and you
      will see a third type of rear sight which is a strap with a long vertical
      slot in it.

      >c) How exactly are these sights used? meaning ... I had assumed that one
      >looked through the hole in the screw (or peep point, etc.), and lined it up
      >with the tip of the arrow, lining both of them up with the place on the
      >target you wanted to hit.
      Almost. A peep sight uses the eye's natural tendency to center itself on a
      light source, so you actually look through the peep and not at it. The tip
      of the bolt becomes your front sight, and you put it on your aim point like
      any other front sight. Note that the human eye can't focus near and far at
      the same time, so either your sight is fuzzy or the target is fuzzy. You
      want the sight to be sharp, and deal with whatever lack of focus that
      imposes on the target.

      >(snip on aiming issues)>

      Here is where even sight shooters diverge. Basically, you have 2 choices,
      for RR shooting: use 1 peep and move your point of aim for different
      ranges, or use 1 peep per range and keep the same point of aim. I used to
      do the former, and now do a variant on the latter.

      I'm going to digress a moment, on the topic of bolt length. A longer bolt
      lets you aim at the target at 20, as opposed to aiming 2 feet below the
      target at 20. Conversely, a short bolt forces a sharper angle to get the
      same sight picture, and so will shoot higher( and higher still due to lower
      weight). Very good shooters use 12" - 14" bolts, and very good shooters use
      21" - 24" bolts. The very best crossbow shots I know shoot 21" to 24"
      bolts. I moved to long bolts about a year ago, and haven't looked back.

      Back to sighting. What I teach target shooters differs slightly from what I
      teach someone mostly interested in roving, mostly about aiming at the center
      of a target (roving) vs. aiming at a defined point on the target which
      provides good contrast to the front sight. What follows assumes you have
      decided to shoot a 3 peep sight.

      The first task is to pick a bolt length, weight, point weight, and fletch
      style/size that suits you, then stick to it like glue. Every change in one
      of these factors will change where you hit in relation to where you aim, so
      pick it and stick to it for a long while. As an example, I presently shoot
      a 21", 5/16 shaft with a 125gr point and 4" hiboy fletches set at 180
      degrees with a hint of helix.

      Find your point of aim at 20 - this is the point at which you aim to hit the
      center of the gold. For me. this is 6 o'clock at the gold. A note -
      whatever this point, it should be directly in line with the center of the
      gold. If you group right or left, move the sight until your group lines up
      vertically with the center of the bull. If your sight is visibly off center
      then, and you are neither canting the bow nor cocking it out of tiller,
      check the bow's squareness. You can shoot well with a viciously warped bow,
      but they tend to magnify flaws in your technique.

      Assuming you have a good point of aim at 20, you now find a height for your
      peep which allows you to use the same sight picture. Again, for me the
      ideal is that i always look through the rear sight, lay the bottom of the
      gold on the dark crescent of my bolt point, and squeeze until I'm surprised
      by the release. After you have a good 30 yard peep, you go to 40 and repeat
      the process.

      Some misc. notes follow.

      Make cardboard sights first, then cut metal when you are sure of the
      heights. The 20 yard peep will be the lowest hole on your sight, and a
      slightly larger hole will help a good deal for speed rounds.

      Remember, you look through, not at, a rear peep. You always put the stock
      at the same place on your shoulder, and you put your face at a specific
      place on the stock for each distance. All of those places should have your
      shooting eye directly in line with the peep and the bolt.

      >Anxiously awaiting a reply ...
      (bet you wished you'd never asked...

      Ragnar Ketilsson
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