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A nock. It’s one of those words that you often see or hear in archery. But what does it mean, how is it used and what are people referring to here? I spent some time researching the terminology and its several uses to find out. Here is what you need to know.
So, what is a nock in archery? A nock is a purposefully created notch that allows the use of a bow. Nocks appear at both ends of a bow, to attach the bowstring and draw it tight. They also appear on the feathered end of an arrow, which allows the arrow to rest against the bowstring, balance, and secure it in place before firing.
Nock and notch.
You may see these two terms referenced quite a lot.
Sometimes, they are used interchangeably.
But the easier way to remember it is this. Nocking is the process, whereas the notch is the physical indentation either in the bow or the arrow.
You need notches to nock, essentially.
But it is these notches in the arrow that the term ‘nock’ is typically applied.
Either way, let us now take a closer look at how the ‘nock’ term applies and is used in archery.
This way, you’ll know exactly how it all fits together!
What Does It Mean To Nock An Arrow?
Nocking an arrow is the process of holding the arrow against the bowstring. It involves fitting the arrow to the bow, by the notch that has been cut into the feathered end of an arrow.
As part of this process, one would need to check that the arrows index vanes are positioned accurately onto the bowstring.
This will allow the proper clearance of the arrow once it is released and fired.
In other words, notching an arrow is the first step, and preparation for shooting.
Nock size refers to the different size notches found on arrows. In other words, not every nock fits any string and any arrow.
Instead, different archery manufacturers will produce different sized fittings which is why it is commonly advised to purchase a nock and arrow shaft together, from the same manufacturer.
Nocks are actually comprised of four different parts: the fitting, mouth, throat and ridge.
Each are crucial to ensuring that an arrow fits securely onto the string and that accuracy is not reduced when the arrow is fired.
There are generally three different nock sizes to consider:
- Press in,
- Fit over,
- Cone nocks
Each will attach the arrow to the bowstring in a slightly different way, with the press in being perhaps the most popular.
At the same time, different nocks will suit different styles and preferences. Bows with thicker strings for instance, will require larger sized nocks.
As such, its always best to test the nock fits your string before any purchase; visit archery shops – enquire and test.
Perhaps even purchase a few different nocks to test out at home.
Can Arrow Nocks Be Replaced?
Arrow nocks can be replaced. In fact, this is recommended if the nock is showing any signs of damage – such as the arrow does not attach firmly to the string or you experience ‘dry-fire‘.
Nocks can develop cracks, nicks or generally degrade which affects their performance and should be replaced at the earliest opportunity.
Thankfully, replacement nocks can be found relatively easily online, with hundreds of different options being available on Amazon.
At the same time, specialist archery shops (both online and retail) will commonly stock replacement nocks.
Some of these physical retail stores will be able to replace the nocks on your arrows on your behalf – often charging a small fee on top of the replacement nocks.
For those purchased online, or those not able to do the replacements, you will need to follow a guide and tutorial.
Thankfully, it is not too difficult to do.
A very simplified overview of the process is as follows:
- Carefully cut the old nock off the arrow (being careful not to damage the arrow shaft).
- Once the nock has been removed, fix the new nock by pushing it on firmly.
- Make sure the the string groove is positioned 90 degrees to the index fletching.
Although, there are plenty of great videos on YouTube for this.
In fact, I would advise checking them out if a replacement is required.
Nocks are pretty important.
In fact, they are essential in archery.
Without them, we wouldn’t be able to attach the string to the bow.
Or, we would not be able to fire our arrows.
This is why finding the right notches for you, and for your bow, is essential.
And with different manufacturers offering different options and sizing, its a little more difficult than one might have hoped.
So, be sure to do your research, investigate the options, and perhaps try out a few.
Your accuracy depends on it!
Archers have been known to say nock throughout history as an order, and means of preparing fellow archers to take aim and to shoot their bows. To nock is to prepare the arrow, so this command was often given just before ‘fire’. The nock order essentially gives an archer the go-ahead to rest their arrows to their bowstrings and line up the shot.
Have other questions about the sport of archery or archery terms? Then my following guides may be of help:
- What Is Archery Tag?
- What Was The Name Of The First Archery Club In America?
- What Is An Anchor Point In Archery?
- What Is A Robin Hood In Archery?
- What Is A Quiver In Archery?
- What Is IBO In Archery?
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.