How to Sight in a Crossbow Scope Without Shooting (Shooters Guide)

If you just went out and bought a brand new scope for your crossbow, there is one step before you can get out shooting. You first have to zero your scope! However, if you don’t have a range nearby, or just don’t want to shoot your arrows into the ground, there are other ways to do it. In this post, we’ll share some tips on how to sight in a crossbow scope without shooting. There is some very simple equipment that makes this process quick and easy!

Can You Sight A Crossbow Without Firing An Arrow?

picture of a crossbow and scope

The short answer is…yes, you can definitely sight in your crossbow scope without shooting a single arrow. Of course, we have already covered how to sight your crossbow the standard way. But there are two major benefits to using this “no firing” zeroing process.

  1. Save Time – Aligning your scope reticle with the arrow point of impact can take some time. It takes even more time if you adjust your scope & shoot test shots, then repeats that process over and over again.
  2. Save Money – If you’re like me, then you do NOT have an unlimited budget. Arrows cost money. If you are losing and breaking arrows while trying to zero your scope, then you’re also throwing money down the drain.


However, I will say that I always recommend testing before using my crossbow scope. There is just no way I am going to go out on a hunt with a bow that I haven’t tested & know to be accurate.

This process is made possible by a tool called a bore sighter. In the sections to come, we’ll teach you exactly what a bore sighter is and how you should use it to make your zeroing process much easier.

What Is Bore Sighting?

The trick to zeroing your crossbow scope without firing an arrow is using a laser bore sighting tool.

What is it? Laser bore sighting is a process of aligning the barrel of your gun with the sight or scope. Or in this case, the arrow release point on your crossbow. This can be done with a standalone tool. The goal is to ensure that when you pull the trigger, the bullet or arrow will hit the target dead-on.

This tool can save you a lot of time and frustration at the range. It’s a great idea to learn how to laser bore sight your scope every time you make major adjustments or buy a new night vision crossbow scope.


If you don’t have access to a range or just want to save time & money, then zeroing your crossbow without firing is the way to go. Follow these instructions to get your scope sighted.

  1. Setup – Grab your laser bore sighting tool and place your crossbow on a table or other stable platform.
  2. Pick Your Zero Distance – Some shooters go with a 36-yard zero distance, but I generally recommend zeroing your scope from 10-20 yards to start.
  3. Take Aim – To start, make sure you have a target with a defined center. Without a center aiming point, you will not be able to accurately align your scope. Next, Align the laser of your bore sighter on the center of your target.
  4. Adjust Your Scope – The final step is to make your crosshairs align with your laser. Use the windage and elevation settings to make the scope overlap directly with the aiming point of the laser.

The laser bore sight will project a laser that is meant to exactly replicate where your arrow will land on a target. By aligning your scope with the laser, you will make sure your scope is dialed in from a certain distance.

Benefits of Zeroing A Scope Without Firing

There are a few benefits to zeroing your scope without firing:

  • First, it will save you money. You won’t need to buy any arrows or go to a range, and you can do it right in your own backyard.
  • It will save you time. You can zero your scope in just a few minutes, and then you’ll be ready to start hunting or target practice without wasting any time.
  • Finally, it’s just easier to do. You don’t need to worry about hitting anything, and you can take your time to make sure that everything is aligned properly.

As we learned in our post about hunting coyotes, you want to get your scope zeroed correctly to hit the coyote kill zone every time!

What Do I Recommend?

There are several situations in which sighting your crossbow without firing an arrow is the best option. No matter if you’re learning how to sight in a rifle or crossbow, saving money and ammo is always a good thing! In fact, we just covered many of the main benefits.

I still recommend confirming your zero by firing a few test shots.

If you’re a hunter, then you know the importance of a well-calibrated scope. After all, there’s nothing worse than taking a perfect shot only to watch your prey RUN AWAY because your bullet went wide. From an ethical perspective, I also won’t take a shot at a living animal without knowing my scope is dialed into perfection!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use a laser bore sighter for red dot sight?

Yes, you can use a laser bore sighter for a red dot sight. The laser bore sighter will help you to properly align your firearm with the red dot sight. This is important because if the firearm is not aligned correctly, the shot will not be accurate.

How close will a laser bore sighter get you?

Laser bore sighters are great for getting your gun sighted in, but they are only accurate for about 25 yards down range. So if you're planning to take your rifle out hunting, you'll still need to do some final sighting in at the range before you go out into the field.

How far should you bore sight crossbow?

10-20 yards is the optimal distance for sighting in a crossbow. Beyond that, the accuracy of the shot begins to deteriorate. For best results, make sure to take into account the wind speed and elevation changes when sighting in your crossbow.

Which is better red or green laser bore sighter?

Green will be more visible because red light is less visible in daylight than green light. However, green laser bore sights are also more expensive.

The Bottom Line

Now you know everything there is to know about sighting in your crossbow without having to fire a single arrow. This method can save you valuable time & money. However, the best method is still to verify your scope’s zero with a few test shots. But if you’re short on time or don’t have access to a range, then this can be a great method for you.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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