I impulsively purchased a gently used crossbow from a neighbor for deer season this year. I calibrated the scope today with mixed results.
The Barnett Jackal is an entry-level crossbow. It comes with a 3-dot sight, which looks like 3 vertical dots. Because an arrow loses velocity much faster than a bullet, crossbow archers use three dots which are each calibrated at different yardages.
- Knowledge of the four rules of firearm safety
- Crossbow bolts
- Field tips
- Cocking rope
- A backstop that won’t destroy your tip or bolt
- A rest for the crossbow (I used my rifle bench)
I began at 10 yards. With the crossbow securely in the rest, aim at the target using the top red dot sight. Look where the bolt actually went. Now adjust the scope. There are two knobs on the scope. The top one is called the elevation adjustment and the one on the right is called the windage adjustment. The elevation knob moves the scope vertically, and the windage knob moves it horizontally. While keeping the crossbow on the rest where you fired it, use the knobs to get the scope aligned with the bolt in the backstop, rather than the center where you were aiming. Repeat as many times as you need until the bolt is reasonably close to the bullseye. I was able to shoot a nice grouping at 10 yards after 3 trials of adjustment.
Things that happened at 10 yards that I am not proud of
The bolt has to be inserted into the Barnett Jackal so that the notch is horizontal. This is indicated by one fletching on the bolt which is a different color (this needs to be facing down). If you don’t insert the arrow this way, you will not able to move the safety into firing mode. This took me 5 minutes to figure out.
Make sure you are actually securely holding the crossbow when firing. I am experienced with firearms but I didn’t realize the crossbow had some kick to it. Since I was using an ill-fitting rifle rest, it kicked back and the scope knocked me in the head, cutting my brow pretty deeply. I look like a red-neck Harry Potter now.
I moved back to 20 yards and aimed at the target using the middle red dot. I barely hit the target and was about 10 inches off from the bullseye. I didn’t make any further adjustments as adjusting the windage and elevation for 20 yards would change my settings for 10 yards since the spacing of the red dots is fixed. I am going to take it out one more time. Even if I can get it sighted in at 20 yards, I will likely buy another scope since I was really having a hard time seeing with this scope at dusk and, since most deer are likely to be encountered in low light, the standard red dot sight on the Jackal is probably not good enough. I actually had a fawn run behind my target one time tonight.