BY: JOHN DUDLEY
It’s amazing to me how important I have found the last inch of the arrow to be. The nock of your arrow has so much control on your groupings downrange in more ways than one. The first is how your nock fits onto your bow string. Proper “nock fit” is critical. If the string is too tight on the nock, it will cause the arrow to pull the string forward past the resting point of the string when the bow is shot. If this happens, the accuracy of your setup quickly deteriorates and you are also more likely to hit your arm. Tight nock fit will also cause more string noise because when the string travels too far forward of the resting position, your bow will have a louder “twang” when the arrow releases. Another problem a tight nock fit can cause is that the string won’t be able to spin freely in the throat of the nock. Oftentimes, as a string gets worn in, it will want to rotate slightly as it is drawn back. If the string can’t rotate freely in the throat of the nock, it can cause the arrow to push against the side of the arrow rest launcher arms instead of sitting perfectly center.
The adverse problem to a tight nock fit is a nock fit that is too loose. If this happens, the most likely negative effect will be the arrow coming off the string when you are at full draw or trying to let the bow down. I remember the first time I found this out the hard way as a bowhunter. I drew on a buck and he didn’t give me the shot I needed, so I had to let the bow down and wait for him to turn. As I let the bow down, the arrow slipped off the string and skipped through several rungs of the metal ladder stand I was in. I’m sure you know how that story ended.
Perfect nock fit contributes to perfect arrow flight.
So, what is the correct nock fit? I have a simple way of measuring that. When I clip a nock on a string, I like to be able to hear a “click” more so than a “snap or twang”. Then, it’s important that you are able to rotate the string freely in the throat of the nock. This will guarantee that the arrow will stay on the string yet offer no resistance to the string if it wants to rotate. To check if the nock fit is too loose, I simply nock an arrow on the string and turn the bow so the string is horizontal with the arrow pointing down. Then, I tap the top of the string with my finger. If the arrow easily falls off the string, I know it’s too loose. Remember, click, spin and tap. If your fit isn’t optimal, you have a few options. First, try different nocks. Some nocks fit tighter than others. Some lighted nocks actually have a better fit than some standard nocks. Another option is to re-serve the center serving on your string with a slightly different diameter serving thread. Companies like BCY make a serving thread in a .018, .021 and .025 for this exact reason. You can also try a custom string maker that gives you the option to tell them what nocks you are shooting and let them build the center serving for the perfect nock fit.
Ensuring that the string will rotate inside the throat of the nock when the arrow is nocked is vitally important.
Finally, really pay attention to indexing all of your nocks perfectly so they are all passing over your rest in the exact same position. If your nocks are really tight in the back of your arrow shaft when you try to index them, do not use your teeth to rotate them and do not snap nocks to the string and twist the whole arrow to rotate the nock. Doing these things will bend the ears of the nocks and cause them to all fit differently. Always use a nock tool. Trust me, this is very important! If you do experience a really tight nock fit in your arrow shaft, you can apply a small amount of string wax on the end of the nock prior to installing it to help it turn more freely so you can index it properly.
Taking the time to properly index each of your nocks is a must for ultimate arrow accuracy and consistency.
Remember, nocks are a wearable item that are fairly fragile, yet absolutely critical to accuracy! Spending the time properly evaluating, installing and adjusting your nocks can be the difference between connecting on that buck or bull of your dreams or going home empty handed.