The Importance of Proper Nock Fit for Bowhunting
As much as I wish shooting a bow consistently well was as simple as pulling it back, putting the pin on target and firing the shot, that’s just not the case. The truth is, if you want to be the best archer you can be, you have to pay attention to the tiniest details, such as the way your arrow nocks fit on your bowstring.
As with many of the topics I’ve discussed in this column, the majority of archers don’t pay enough attention to nock fit. If fact, most people just tie a nocking loop on their bowstring and call it good. But there are many factors to consider here, and all are critical: things such as how tightly your nock fits on the bowstring, how much vertical and horizontal play the nock has once attached to the bowstring and the amount of pressure (nock pinch) the nocking loop applies to your nocks at full draw. Each of these — if not properly calibrated — can dramatically diminish your accuracy.
First, let’s talk about how the nock snaps on the string. Obviously, you don’t want your arrow just falling off the string, but it’s just as bad when your nock snaps on too tightly. A good test is to nock your arrow and, with your finger, grab the nocking loop, pull the string back about half an inch and release. If the arrow doesn’t pop off the string, it’s too tight. To resolve thisissue, you can either replace your arrow nocks with something that fits better or replace your center serving with a different diameter serving thread that provides that perfect snug, but not too tight, nock fit. You can find instructional videos about serving on my Bow Life TV channel on YouTube.
The next thing to look for is after the nock snaps onto the string. You want to make sure that with very little pressure it will slide up and down the serving without binding. Then check and see if you can twist the arrow side to side. If there is sideways play, the nock fit is too loose, and if you have to really force it up and down the string, the nock fit is too tight. Remember, this is completely different than how it snaps on the string. This is the fit after the snap, while the arrow is sitting on the string. Now, if the nock snaps on correctly but doesn’t fit well after the snap, you need a different nock. Changing the serving material size will not help. In my experience, the best fitting nocks are Nockturnals if I am bowhunting where lighted nocks are legal and Gold Tip GTO nocks if I am shooting in competitions.
Lastly, you want to make sure there is no pinch or lift on the nock while drawing the bow. I always use serving thread to tie a small knot inside the bottom of my nocking loop to make sure there is some upward pressure on the bottom of the nock during the draw cycle. This presses the arrow down on my rest and makes sure it doesn’t lift up while I’m drawing. You also want zero gap inside your nocking loop above or below your nock when snapped on the string. The nock should be snug to the loop on the topside and to the knot on the bottom side.
When you’re setting up your bow, don’t overlook nock fit. This is the only connection your bow has to the arrow, and if it is not perfect, how can you expect the impact to be? Make sure the nock isn’t too tight or too loose when snapping on and off the string. Then check the fit after it is snapped on for slide and side-to-side twist. Lastly, make sure you don’t have any pinch while maintaining a snug fit inside the nocking loop. If you do, you will shoot better.