What is a Nock in Archery?

When starting archery, one of the very first questions heard by all coaches is: How do I hold the arrow? I made that question at my first archery class. My coach pointed that small piece of colorful plastic at the end of the arrow. He said, “May I present to you: The Nock”. With a chevalier tone of voice and old wording, my coach explained us the use of the nock and all its history. So, you might wonder now: what is it? It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started, or a coach or trained archer; in this article we’ll cover all you need to know about this tiny little piece, with a huge role in archery.

The nock of an arrow is normally made of plastic and historically used to attach the arrow to the bowstring. It is placed on the nocking point and helps the archer to be consistent with every shot. Its proper placement is important for arrow flight and accuracy.

Nocks started as a small cut in the wooden arrow and evolve until they became these small pieces we now know. But… How did we get here? Keep reading and you’ll find everything you need to know.

What is a nocking point? Do I need one?

Yes! You do.

The nocking point is a reference in your string, where you should always place the nock of your arrow. It will ensure all your shots go straight to the target and that you became a consistent archer. It is normally placed with a special ruler when the bow is assembled.

The nocking point makes sure your arrow is always on the right place, and the nock makes sure your fingers won’t affect the arrow trajectory. Since its job is to keep the arrow attached to the string, your fingers should not touch the arrow, but the string only. Otherwise, each of your shots might be different and differ from the other depending on how much your finger touched or moved the arrow. 

Where is the nocking point on the string?

This is the easy part. To measure the nock location on the string you need a T Square ruler. There are special rulers made for this, you can find many models on amazon.

12 Inch T Ruler for Setting Nocking Points

The perfect lightweight T rule for setting your knocking point. Made of robust aluminium it’s both lightweight and strong, perfect for taking with you to competitions or your local club.

Just place the ruler on the rest, which is the place where the arrow will be in the bow and follow the straight line to the string. The ruler will show you the best place for the nocking point. Now you just need to prepare the references points on the side to make sure your arrow is always on the right place. Down below you’ll find how to make it.

How do you nock a bow?

Now you should know where your nock point should be. Once you have measured the right place, with some thread and glue, make the nocking point. It’s best to watch a specific tutorial about this, but if you happen to have someone with experience on the process, better to have their supervision. I was lucky to have some friends within the archery club with experience making nocking points (and the right tools).

  1. First, run your thread through some hot melt glue (this is optional)
  2. Place your ruler or a mark on the rest and use the lowest line as reference to place the bottom mark on your string, loop the thread around the string.
  3. Now tie a second knot, below the first, with the bulk on the opposite side. Repeat process until it is the desire size, then cut it.
  4. Leave some space above and repeat the process, so that the nock will fit between the knots.
  5. With a lighter heat the ends of the threads until they melt.

This video will give you a step by step from World Archery:

Types of Nocks in modern times

Nowadays, nocks are considered as a consumable on archery. This means that they are not as strong as a horn from the old ages, but they are as effective. Nocks became cheap, sold in dozens, with different colors, styles and with less resistance. They will break, but you can exchange the damaged ones as easily as charging your phone (depending on the type of nock and arrow you want to use).

“You’ll need a minimum of 100 nocks for every year” –Said German head coach Oliver Haidn.

It is recommended that you always place new nocks on your arrows before a competition. Just for security, as I said, they are considered a consumable item these days, and it would be awful to lose an arrow because an old one decided to break.

Let’s go ahead and check some types of nocks available in the market.

Press-Fit Nocks

They are the most common nocks in today’s archery. As the name says, it is really simple to install, just press the nock on the shaft and make sure it has clicked in. Most carbon and aluminum shafts will receive these nocks. These are my favorite. I have been using Press-fit nocks for over a year. For me, they are reliable and pretty easy to exchange if needed. Here’s an amazon link where you can find some reliable cheap press-fit nocks:

Standard Carbon Press-fit Nock

The perfect cheap and cheerful press-fit nock. Light weight and durable these are perfect to have a couple of in your bag so you never run out.

Pin Nocks

This are the nocks for shafts that have an aluminium pin on the back. This aluminium pin is meant to protect the shaft from other arrows, they may destroy the nock but not the expensive shaft. Although they are more expensive than Press-Fit nocks, these nocks are a lot safer. They are my recommendation for archers with more experience and who have spent more on arrow shafts:

Easton Pin Nock

Lightweight with a strong grip on the bow strong, the Easton pin nocks are a great addition for any shooter who prefers pin nocks.


These are the ones that let the arrow to slide inside the nock. In other words, the nock goes over the shaft to attach itself to the arrow. They are commonly used with carbon arrows. I personally don’t like them that much from an aesthetic point of view, it looks like a bigger nock than the others. But like I said, this is a personal matter.

Conventional Nocks

Used on aluminum arrows with a cone-shaped back. These nocks are recommended to have some glue before putting some pressure on the cone. Personally, I find this makes it a bit messy to assemble arrows with this type of nocks, especially when there are other options with no need of glue.

LED Light Nocks:

There are some nocks available in the market that have an LED light or a shiny material inside, which makes them easier to find, especially for the ones that enjoy shooting at night. I haven’t tried them yet, but it depends on the place where you’re shooting. If you’re shooting in a field with tall grass even the LEDs will be hard to spot. Nevertheless, if you’re shooting at dark places or indoors, this is an excellent option to try.

Here are some cheap reliable LED nocks on amazon:

LED Arrow Nocks

Tired of losing your arrows? LED nocks are a great addition to any archery who prefers an outdoor range, the long life LEDs will help you recover your arrows and have been a life saver for me on a number of occasions!

So, there you go. Now you know what a nock and a nocking point are, how to make a nocking point and some different types of nocks. Every single and small part of an arrow or bow is there for a reason. It is up to us, to understand it all and use it at its maximum capacity.

Keep practicing and stay consistent with every shot, and your nocks.

Happy shooting!