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When setting up a new bow for the first time, one of the most important things you should do is set up your nocking point. This indicator helps you to know precisely where to nock your arrow onto your bowstring each time for the most consistent shots. For this, you’ll need to use a tool called a bow square.
But, how do you set your nocking point with a bow square? To set your nocking point with a bow square, you need to rest the arm of the bow square on your arrow rest. From there, you can use the measuring end of the tool to work out where to place your brass or string nocking points. Consider it will take some trial and error and experimentation before you are set up correctly.
A bow square is a handy device that helps to set your nocking point correctly.
So if you don’t have one already, be sure to invest in one.
This is the one to purchase from Bass Pro Shops, by the way.
But chances are, you already have one, or at least have one on the way.
Instead, you just want to know how to use it.
So let’s delve much deeper into working with a bow square and setting those important nocking points!
How Do You Use A Bow Square?
To set up the correct nocking point, you can use something called a bow square to measure incremental positions on your bowstring to find the best location for your nocking point. This takes a long period of trial and error out of your task, especially if you have an arrow rest already fixed onto your bow.
A bow square is also referred to as a T-square.
It is a metal measuring device with a long horizontal arm and a shorter vertical arm at the end, which has a pair of clips at the top and bottom.
Down the length of this vertical section will be a series of measurement markings in the form of increments measuring about a quarter of an inch.
The longer arm of a bow square is also marked with measurements that help you find your draw length and brace height.
To use a bow square to begin to work out where to put your nocking point markers, rest the longer horizontal arm on the bow rest on the handle of your bow.
You can then use the two clips on the vertical edge of the bow square to clip the device to your bowstring, giving you a stable method of measuring the correct place on the string to put your nocking points.
Using the measurement points on the vertical arm of the bow square, you can finely tune the location of your nocking points to suit your individual needs and preferences as an archer.
The markings are usually spaced in increments measuring a quarter of an inch, and a good starting point to work from is to try your first nocking point exactly at a quarter of an inch – which should be right in the middle of the marking lines on the bow square.
You can then experiment to see if this position works well for you and your bow.
You may find that your arrows are dipping up and down once you’ve fired them, which usually means that you need to further adjust your nocking point.
Some bows work best with a nocking point of about ½ an inch, while some archers will prefer to have their nocking points set right at a ¼ of an inch high.
How Do You Set Up Nocking Points?
By using the bow square and some trial and error, you can work out the ideal place to set your nocking points on your bowstring. You’ll need some extra tools to do this – some brass nocking point markers for the bowstring, a pair of pliers, and some test arrows.
Once you’ve attached the bow square to your bow, you can start trying out different nocking points.
Most traditional nocking point markers consist of brass roundels that are crimped into place on the bowstring with a pair of pliers.
The best starting point to work from is to place one of these brass markers at a ¼ of an inch above your bow’s arrow rest on your bowstring.
Your arrow’s nock will then be attached right underneath this marker.
When placing your initial nocking point marker, simply crimp a brass roundel loosely at your starting point.
By only pressing it onto the bowstring loosely, you will be able to easily adjust it if it doesn’t feel right.
You may find it easier to start with your initial marker higher up on the bowstring and work your way down, rather than working from the middle to start with.
Experiment and see which method feels best for you.
Once you’ve placed your first marker and are ready to try it, nock an arrow onto your bowstring and fire an experimental shot at a target.
Pay attention to how your arrow moves through the air.
If it flies straight and true, then your nocking point is reasonably good and is worth trying for an extended period of time.
But if the arrow waves up and down during its flight path, you’ll need to continue adjusting the position of the nocking point.
When you do make changes, don’t do so drastically.
Simply reposition the brass nocking point marker by making small adjustments of either ¼ or ½ of an inch each time.
Then loosely crimp the brass marker in place and make another test shot.
Where Should My Nocking Point Be?
The best place for your nocking point will vary depending on your individual preferences and how your bow behaves. Generally, you want your nocking point to be placed somewhere that gives you a straight and true arrow flight during every shot.
You’ll find your ideal nocking point location by experimenting with the position of your brass marker, making small adjustments using your bow square, and some test shots to make sure that the flight of the arrow is correct.
Some bows work better with different nocking point positions than others, although most will be within the range of ¼ or ½ of an inch above your bow rest.
When fixing a brass roundel onto the bowstring to set your nocking point, you’ll clip the arrow just underneath the marker during every shot.
Some archers may like to use two nocking point markers on either side of the arrow clip.
But for others, heavy brass roundels can negatively affect their shooting speed, which may be necessary for competitive archery.
For these situations, you can use some fine string such as dental floss or fishing line as your nocking point.
This allows you to draw and shoot faster on a consistent basis, and a version of this technique is used by Olympic archers.
Heavy brass nocking points can also scrape your fingers if you try to shoot too quickly with them.
But in most amateur or practice situations, they will be fine.
If you are using string, then the same method of finding your nocking point location with your bow square still applies.
Simply tie the string that you’re using in place each time you try a different nocking point measurement on the bowstring and adjust as needed based on the results of your test shots.
Whichever type of marker that you use, your nocking point should be in a place that you can use consistently on every shot and should also allow your arrows to fly straight and true during each attempt.
Wiggling flight paths indicate that your nocking point needs adjusting further.
How Do You Adjust A Nocking Point?
If you feel that your nocking point isn’t quite where you want it to be, you can adjust it relatively easily by loosening your marker and then trying a slightly different spot. By fine-tuning your nocking point position, you can find the perfect location for consistent and stable drawing and shooting.
Finding the correct nocking point position is very much a case of some trial and error.
Once you’ve placed your nocking point marker at your first location on the bowstring, make a test shot and see how the arrow behaves.
If it veers up and down during flight, then you’ll need to make some adjustments.
When trying your first nocking point position, fix your marker in place loosely so that you can easily move it if you need to.
Don’t crimp the roundel too tight with your pliers. If you need to adjust your nocking point, all you need to do is remove the marker and try a different location.
Again, only fix the marker loosely until you’ve found your preferred position, then fix it permanently by crimping it tightly onto the bowstring.
Keep your bow square handy during this process, as this will allow you to minutely adjust the position of your nocking point.
You may still need to adjust your nocking point later on or for new bows and bowstring, so simply repeat the process each time you set up a bow.
So there you have it.
How to use a Bow Square, and how to set your nocking points correctly.
Just be patient, mind.
These things take a bit of time.
Especially in the beginning.
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.