How To Nock An Arrow: A Step-By-Step Guide

by | Aug 8, 2023

Archery, a sport of precision and skill, involves numerous intricate steps that contribute to the perfect shot. One such crucial step is learning how to nock an arrow. This seemingly simple act of placing the arrow on the bowstring plays a significant role in your shooting accuracy and safety.

Once you’ve located the nocking point, the arrow should be positioned perpendicular to the string. Hold the arrow shaft below the nocking point with the cock vane facing up or away from the bow, depending on the type of bow you have. Next, slide the arrow onto the bowstring. It should click into place. Check that your arrow is securely fastened to the bow and perpendicular to the bowstring.

Mastering the art of nocking an arrow correctly is, therefore, an essential skill for every archer, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shooter.

Understanding the Nocking Process

Nocking an arrow refers to the process of setting the arrow onto the bowstring, ready for shooting.

The arrow is placed on the string at the nocking point, a specific spot marked on the string that ensures consistent arrow placement for every shot.

The arrow’s nock, a small plastic or metal piece at the end of the arrow, is what connects the arrow to the bowstring.

The role of the arrow nock in archery is vital. It not only connects the arrow to the bow but also transfers the energy from the bowstring to the arrow upon release.

A correctly nocked arrow ensures that this energy transfer is efficient and consistent, leading to accurate and reliable shots.

How to Nock an Arrow: A Step-by-Step Guide

Nocking an arrow correctly is a skill that can be mastered with practice. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get it right:

  1. Identify the Nocking Point: The nocking point is usually marked on the bowstring. If it’s not, you can use an arrow square to find the right spot. The arrow should be perpendicular to the string at the nocking point.
  2. Position the Arrow: Hold the arrow by the shaft and position the arrow’s nock below the nocking point. The cock feather or vane (the one that’s a different colour from the others) should be facing up or away from the bow, depending on your bow type.
  3. Nock the Arrow: Slide the arrow’s nock onto the bowstring. You should hear a soft click when the nock snaps onto the string. The arrow should stay on the string even if you let go.
  4. Check the Arrow: Make sure the arrow is securely nocked and the cock feather or vane is in the correct position. The arrow should be perpendicular to the string and aligned with the centre of the bow.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Spend time practising nocking your arrows correctly, and it will soon become second nature.

The Importance of Correctly Nocking An Arrow

Correct nocking is a fundamental aspect of archery that significantly impacts your shooting accuracy and arrow flight.

When an arrow is properly nocked, it sits at the right angle on the bowstring, allowing for a straight and consistent flight path upon release.

Any deviation in the nocking position can lead to the arrow flying off-course, resulting in inaccurate shots.

Moreover, correct nocking is crucial for safety. An improperly nocked arrow can slip from the bowstring during the draw, potentially leading to a dry fire (releasing the bowstring without an arrow), which can damage the bow and pose a risk to the archer and bystanders. Therefore, always ensure your arrow is securely nocked before drawing the bowstring.

Choosing the Right Nock for Your Arrows

Arrow nocks come in various types and sizes, each designed for specific uses and types of bows.

The right nock for your arrows largely depends on your bow type, shooting style, and personal preference.

Some common types of nocks include the push-in nock, the pin nock, and the out nock.

Choosing the right nock is crucial for optimal performance and safety. The nock should fit snugly on the bowstring, neither too tight nor too loose.

A nock that’s too tight can lead to inconsistent releases, while a nock that’s too loose may not hold the arrow securely, posing a safety risk.

For a more detailed guide on choosing the right nock for your arrows, check out our article on how to choose the right nock for your arrows.

Nocking Arrows for Different Types of Bows

The process of nocking an arrow is generally the same across different types of bows, but there are some nuances to consider.

Nocking an Arrow on a Compound Bow

When nocking an arrow on a compound bow, ensure the cock vane (the one that’s a different colour) is facing up.

Compound Bow nocking point

This positioning ensures that the vanes don’t interfere with the arrow rest during the shot. Once the arrow is nocked onto the D-loop, it should stay securely on the string even if you let go.

Nocking an Arrow on a Recurve Bow

For a recurve bow, the cock feather or vane should face away from the bow when the arrow is knocked.

Recurve bow nocking point

This positioning ensures that the fletchings clear the bow without interference during the shot. As with a compound bow, the arrow should stay securely on the string once it’s nocked.

Common Mistakes When Nocking an Arrow

Even experienced archers can sometimes make mistakes when nocking an arrow. Here are some of the most common ones and how to avoid them:

  1. Incorrect Nocking Point: Nocking the arrow too high or too low on the bowstring can affect the arrow’s flight and your shooting accuracy. Always use the marked nocking point on the bowstring.
  2. Wrong Nock Fit: Using a nock that’s too tight or too loose can lead to inconsistent releases and potential safety issues. The nock should fit snugly on the bowstring, holding the arrow securely but releasing smoothly when the string is drawn.
  3. Incorrect Vane Positioning: The cock vane should be facing up for compound bows and away from the bow for recurve bows. Incorrect positioning can cause the vanes to interfere with the arrow rest, affecting the arrow’s flight.
  4. Not Checking the Arrow: Always check the arrow before nocking it. Damaged arrows or nocks can pose a safety risk and affect your shooting accuracy.

Practising Nocking an Arrow

Like any other skill in archery, nocking an arrow correctly requires practice. Here are some tips to help you improve:

  1. Repetition: Practice nocking an arrow repeatedly. The more you do it, the more natural it will become.
  2. Use a Mirror: Practice nocking an arrow in front of a mirror. This allows you to see if you’re positioning the arrow correctly on the bowstring and if the cock vane is in the right position.
  3. Check Your Equipment: Regularly check your arrows and nocks for any signs of wear or damage. Using well-maintained equipment is crucial for safe and accurate shooting.
  4. Get Professional Advice: If you’re struggling with nocking an arrow, consider getting advice from a professional archery coach. They can provide personalized tips and corrections.

For more tips on mastering archery, check out our 11 steps for archery success.


Nocking an arrow correctly is a fundamental skill in archery that significantly impacts your shooting accuracy and safety.

While it might seem like a simple task, it requires understanding, precision, and practice. Remember, every detail matters in archery, and even a small mistake in nocking can affect your shot.

So, take the time to master this skill, learn from your mistakes, and always strive for continuous improvement. Happy shooting!