I recently purchased a Barnett 4×32 crossbow scope for my dominator .357. This is the first time I’ve ever had to sight in any type of scope, let alone one built specifically for a crossbow. After spending some time on the net looking at how-to sites and watching youtube videos, I decided it would be best if I just wrote up my own experience with this so that others might benefit from what I learned in the process.
The first thing you might want to do before purchasing your scope is to check your local regulations concerning scopes on crossbows. Most states will allow only dot sights or fixed power scopes under magnification up to 4x during hunting season. This is because the crossbow’s velocity and kinetic energy are so high that the crossbow scope MUST be able to withstand much more shock than a scope for a firearm or one used for archery only.
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I chose the Barnett 4×32 based on good reviews I read online about its toughness, general clarity, easy zeroing adjustments, and reticle brightness settings. The scope comes with 5 different reticle colour options (red, green, blue, orange & white), as well as adjustable rheostat brightness settings of those colours. One note: some people have complained that it was difficult to use their Barnett scopes in low light conditions even on their lowest brightness setting. From what I read this wasn’t due to any fault with the scope itself, but with the brightness and clarity of their reticle. I found that my scope was bright and clear enough for me to use during those last minutes of daylight here in Texas even on its lowest setting.
I mounted my scope using a set of Weaver Quad Lock rings (4 inches) which were wide enough apart to accommodate both the width as well as the height of the rail on my crossbow (see photo below). The weaver rings screw into metal inserts which are then secured by screws up against the base of my scope. I glued felt strips along each side between the rings and frame of my Barnett 4×32 just for added protection from any potential contact and vibration.
I mounted my scope as snugly as I could get it but not so tight that I would crack the lens. The trick with mounting any crossbow scope is to make sure you are level both horizontally and vertically. If the reticle is canted at an angle then your point of impact will shift along that line rather than where you hope it would be. Scopes are mounted only on one side, with the open end toward the shooter. Once everything was tight, I realigned everything using a 24″ framing level against gravity (i hung it from the bow’s stock) until everything was perfectly horizontal and vertical. You can see in my photo how straight mine turned out to be with no canting whatsoever, which is very important if you want to shoot accurately.
After adjusting the zoom ring on my scope from 4x to 16x, I was ready to sight in at 20 yards. Since this is a crossbow and i didn’t have a set of bow target sights or a bubble level, I did a quick check for level against the 24″ framing level again, then shot an arrow about 10 feet away from where i planned to zero my gun. Using a marker pen I marked the end of the shaft closest to me with an “X” so i would know exactly where it struck after retrieving it. Then fired one more shot directly at that same spot making sure all three matched up perfectly which they did.
Now all I had to do was adjust my scope until the sight picture matched the mark on my arrow shaft which would then be where my bolt’s point of impact should be. To do this I elevated or lowered the crosshairs accordingly using the coarse elevation & windage knobs until i could see that “X” through my reticle just fine. Then using an Allen wrench (also included) I clicked up or down depending on how much I needed to move it until it exactly lined up with that X on the shaft. After several rounds of doing this, checking occasionally to make sure everything still looked right, and marking another arrow for reference, I finally got it sighted in perfectly. You can also see holding that same framing level against the rail of my crossbow, how level I had my gun.
I have shot this rifle now probably about 80 times using the factory bowstring it came with. That string is still holding up fine so far, but i sometime soon plan to replace it with a new one just for safety’s sake. If you are shooting a very large game or want even greater accuracy, you should change the limbs out on your crossbow as well since they are not meant to sustain much stress when shooting very large bolts at high speeds. However being that I only use mine for target practice and small game hunting purposes, will leave everything else stock until something breaks or wears out completely then upgrade all those parts.
All in all, I am very happy with this setup and especially its price. I would recommend buying a Barnett 4×32 crossbow scope to anyone who is interested in doing the same kind of thing as me (target shooting, small game hunting, etc).
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