How important is the bubble level?

Crystal Gauvin sets you straight on whether your scope’s bubble level being, well, ‘level’ while shooting is important…

Do you really need to keep the bubble level and in the middle of my sight for short and long distances?

Q. I shoot compound and my wife shoots recurve. We’ve talked about and debated the importance of the bubble level in my scope. I am wondering how important it really is to keep the bubble level and in the middle of my sight for short and long distances?

A. Great question! Having a bubble is one of the many advantages compound archers have over recurve archers when it comes to aiming and consistency. Just like your anchor point or your scope lining up with your peep are points of reference to help you shoot tighter groups, the level in your bubble is a very similar tool for you to use.

First, let me start by explaining what exactly a level bubble does. A level is placed inside (or just outside) your scope, and it does exactly what its name indicates. The level on your scope contains a bubble of liquid, which tells you if your scope/sight is level to your bow. You can think of this just like a level that you would use to hang a picture in your house. A bubble in the middle of the level will produce arrows that land where the sight is pointed. A bubble that is left of centre will produce arrows that land right of the sight pin, and a bubble that is right of centre will make the arrows land left of the sight pin. The further the distance to the target the further from the centre the arrow will land.

Second, it is important to always calibrate your level to your equipment whenever you change your scope or sight on your bow. If you do not properly “level” your sight from the beginning, you will get false readings in terms of whether you are holding the bow level or not. This becomes VERY important for field and 3D shooters who will be shooting at various angles, instead of simply on flat ground. In this case it is important that all three axes (1,2, and 3) on your sight are properly leveled.

When the bubble is left of centre, as shown here, the arrow will impact right of where you aim

Once your scope and sight are on your bow, and you have correctly calibrated the level so it reads level when in fact they are level, it is time to go out and shoot your bow. It is important when shooting to always take a glance at where your bubble is inside the level, once you are at full draw. If you find that the level tends to be to one side, that is a sign that you are canting your bow (the bow is at an angle), most likely due to the pressure in your grip. This can be fixed by adjusting the pressure in your bow hand, by modifying your stabiliser setup, or simply by twisting your wrist. This will allow you to get the bubble to centre itself while you are at full draw, which will lead to more accurate groups down-range.

For archers shooting on slopes of any kind, the bubble in your level can be a lifesaver. Because our minds can play tricks on us, many times when we are standing on a hill or shooting at a target on an angle, we may subconsciously angle our body or the bow to compensate. In doing so, we cause a cant in our bow, which can easily lead to misses. This is where the bubble comes in. Just like when you are shooting on flat ground, if you make sure to check to make sure your bubble is level when you come to full draw, you can save yourself a lot of headaches. In this case, it’s best just to tip your bow hand so the bubble returns back to the middle, in a level position before releasing the arrow.

There is one exception to the wanting a level bubble rule. When shooting in windy conditions, some archers prefer to “bubble off” versus aiming off. In this case, you will want to adjust how far your bubble is from the centered, level position in order to fight the wind drift your arrows are experiencing. How much to bubble off is different for every setup, so like anything else, it takes a lot of practice to master, but it will allow you to adjust for the wind while still aiming at the centre of the target.

This article originally appeared in the issue 120 of Bow International magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store:

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