How to Use Your Sight's Bubble Level.
* Bright pins (fiber optic)
* Bubble level
* Ability to shoot to at least 60 yards without any adjustments (five or more pins)
* Gang adjustment
* Ability to aim spot-on at longer distances (a "floater" or "slider" pin)
* Ease of adjustment (individual pins, gang adjustment and the "floater" pin)
* 2nd- and 3rd-axis adjustment capability
I covered pin brightness in the last issue, so now we'll continue down the list and discuss bubble levels and their importance when shooting and hunting out West.
In order to consistently hit the bull's-eye, you must hold your bow at the same angle during each shot. Notice I didn't say the bow must be held vertically. Most archers default to a vertical position, but many archers cant, or lean, their top limb to the right (for right-handed archers). That's just fine. Canting the bow isn't a problem as long as it's done in exactly the same manner and degree for every shot. As long as you adjust your sights accordingly, you'll shoot just fine.
However, if you do happen to cant the bow a little differently from one shot to the next, you'll miss in the direction you lean the bow. You'll then be tempted to move your sight pins to get back on target, but these adjustments will only work temporarily --the next time you shoot, your arrows may strike the other side of the bull's-eye.
Incorporating a bubble level into your sighting system will prevent this from happening. Many sights offer adjustable bubble levels that can account for an archer's natural cant at full draw. So, once properly calibrated, the bubble will help you maintain consistent form regardless of the shot angle.
When I started shooting competitive archery, I shot in the NFAA Bowhunter class. Its regulations forbade us from using a level, which didn't make a lot of sense to me, but those were the rules, and we had to follow them. Looking back, though, that little cloud had a silver lining: Shooting without a level burned into my brain just how important a level is for maximum accuracy! Without this device to help me keep the bow at a consistent angle from shot to shot, I could spend much of my practice time chasing my groups from left to right across the target.
When we were shooting on a steep sidehill, for example, nearly everyone in the Bowhunter class shot to the downhill side of the bull's-eye. Some unknown force seemed to pull our top limbs (and arrows) that way.
I discovered one trick that seemed to help a great deal: If I drew my bow while canting the upper limb toward the uphill side and then, relaxing, allowed the bow to ease into a vertical position, I would consistently hit the middle of the target. However, if I drew the bow while canting away from the hill and then forced the bow back into a vertical position, I would shoot to the downhill side nearly every time.
I still use this trick even when my sight has a built-in level. I pull my bow back with it leaning into the hill and then relax until my bubble is in the middle of the level. If I do it the opposite way, pulling my bow back with it canted toward the downhill side and then muscling it to center the bubble, I seem to "spring load" my form. Once I shoot and the entire system is "free floating," the bow begins moving toward the downhill side, causing me to miss in that direction.
The next time you're shooting with your buddies on a sidehill, watch the bubbles in their levels as they shoot. Many people will ignore it completely. More often, though, they'll start out with the bubble centered in the level and then, as the shot progresses, eventually lose focus on the bubble as the bow begins to cant to the downhill side.
The biggest issue I run into is forgetting to use the level at all in the heat of the moment. That's been tough for me, so now when I'm on a stalk in steep mountains, I desperately try to remind myself before I draw to check my level.
One last thought: Simply placing a level on your sight and then using it in practice will train you to keep your bow in a consistent position. You must practice using the level on every training shot in order to make it an integral part of your shooting routine. Even if you forget to look at your level when you're shooting at game, your training will most likely take over and keep the bow in the proper position.
In summary, learning to use your bubble level in practice will help you consistently shoot with the same bow angle. Again, this training will carry over into your hunting shots even if you forget to check the level during the moment of truth.
Caption: Canting, or leaning, your bow to the right or left at full draw isn't a problem--as long as you do exactly the same way on every shot. If you do cant the bow a little differently from one shot to the next, you'll miss to the right or left, depending on the direction of the cant.
Caption: Incorporating a bubble level into your sighting system will prevent you from canting your bow; all that needs to be vertical are your sight pins (or sight bar if you're using a slider).