By Cassie Gasaway
Let’s review your archery gear selection process. When you chose arrows for your bow, you probably carefully picked arrows with the perfect material, spine, weight, length, and fletching for your setup. You also probably analyzed broadhead options and found one you liked.
But did you give the same thought and consideration into choosing an ideal nock?
The nock is a plastic- or carbonate-based piece that inserts into the back of the arrow behind the fletching. This nock anchors the arrow into the “nocked” position on the bowstring. Many bowhunters use traditional nocks, but thanks to new technology, we now have more options.
Take lighted nocks, for instance. We talked to Teri Quinn, media manager for Nockturnal Lighted Nocks to understand how lighted nocks work and why they’re a great addition to a bowhunter’s arsenal.
Many companies sell lighted nocks, and most of them work similarly. We asked Quinn to break down the details of a Nockturnal Lighted Nock.
A nock must properly fit within an arrow. Most arrows come in one of five sizes, including X, H, S, G and GT. Therefore, most nocks have corresponding diameters or “bushings” that ensure a tight fit within the arrow shaft. This concept is the same for lighted and non-lighted nocks.
A lighted nock, however, has a small switch called a piston that sits inside the nock. When pushed, the piston activates a lithium battery that turns on an LED light. To turn the light off, a hunter must insert a special tool, or another pointy object, such as a broadhead or safety pin, into a designated hole on the nock’s side.
The piston is string activated, which means the bowstring’s momentum pushes it once an archer releases their arrow. However, it can be accidentally triggered, so bowhunters must use caution when nocking their arrows.
Many lighted nock companies offer nocks in multiple colors because people perceive colors differently. Quinn said Nockturnal offers strobing and solid-colored light options. The solid color options include red, pink, blue, green, orange or white. Meanwhile, strobing lights alternate between two colors, such as red and green, red and blue, or blue and green.
“For me, I see the green nock the best,” Quinn said. “My coworker can’t see green light in daylight, but he can see it well at night. He uses the red-green strobe nock so he can see the red light in daylight and the green light at night. Everyone sees differently, so hunters must choose a color preference that works well with their vision.”
According to Quinn, lighted nocks are beneficial for three primary reasons. One, they help archers track arrow flight. Two, they help bowhunters see where their arrow hits. And three, they help bowhunters find their arrow after the shot.
If an archer isn’t shooting tight groups but is confident they’re using proper form, their arrow might be to blame. Quinn said it’s much easier to tell if an arrow is flying erratically with a lighted nock. Watch the lighted nock carefully to see the arrow’s flight path, identify patterns, and tune your equipment accordingly.
For hunters, knowing your shot placement is crucial to determine when to trail a deer. If you made a lethal shot to the heart or lungs, the deer will likely die quickly and humanely. However, if you made a gut shot, the animal will die slower. A lighted nock can help you identify where your arrow hit, especially in low-light situations like dawn or dusk. Once you know where your arrow hit, you can make smart decisions regarding when to track it.
Buying arrows and broadheads can be costly. What’s more costly is losing an arrow altogether. A lighted nock makes it easier to find arrows, especially in the dark, which increases arrow recoveries and protects your investments.
While lighted nocks are a great option, they are not legal in all states. Check your state wildlife agency’s game laws and other area-specific regulations to ensure lighted nocks are allowed where you hunt.
Another potential drawback is accidentally activating the lighted nock when nocking your arrow.
“Bowhunters must be careful not to push too hard when nocking their arrow, otherwise they might turn their nock on at 5 a.m. when it’s dark,” Quinn said. “That’s not ideal, but when people practice using their lighted nocks, they’ll quickly learn the sensitivity of the switch so they can use the proper force and prevent that from happening in a hunting situation.”
Additionally, lighted nocks are more expensive than standard nocks. And, because lighted nocks have batteries, they’re bound to die out over time. A Nockturnal nock battery lasts about 20 cumulative hours. Quinn said most bowhunters can use one nock all season, but they’ll likely have to buy a new nock each year. She said the dead nocks are great to practice with because they weigh and behave the same as their new counterparts.
Ultimately, Quinn said, choosing a nock comes down to personal preference.
“I’ve used both standard and lighted nocks, and I don’t notice a difference in how they shoot,” she said. “Lighted nocks do have several benefits, but ultimately a user must decide what they like more. No matter what they decide, I always recommend people practice with their equipment, so they feel comfortable in a hunting situation.”
Will you stick with a standard nock or upgrade to a lighted nock? Tell us your decision on the Bowhunting 360 Facebook community.