If you’re a novice crossbow hunter, you probably haven’t put that much thought into what type of arrow nocks you’re using. However, your crossbow most likely requires a specific kind of nock to be fitted on all of your crossbow bolts to work properly. You should be able to find this information in the instruction manual that came with your bow or on the manufacturer’s website. Using the wrong kind of nock on your bolts will lead to insufficient contact between the bolts and the bowstring during the firing process, which will result in less accurate shots. Check out this guide to arrow nocks to get a better understanding of their purpose and which one will be right for you.
A Guide to Arrow Nocks
There are just a few categories of crossbow nocks on the market, so it’s not too hard to understand the differences between them and how they relate to your crossbow.
These are the simplest type of nock, consisting of just a hard, flat disk on the end of the bolt. Its minimalist design allows the bolt to be placed on the rail without any concern for orientation.
Moon nocks differ from flat nocks in that the back has a small concave cut to allow the string to rest inside of it. This prevents the string from slipping over or under the bolt while shooting, which could lead to an unintentional dry firing. However, the design also requires that the bolt be mounted in a particular orientation, typically with the one of the bolt’s vanes pointing straight down (the barrel will have a groove to accommodate it).
If you’ve done a lot of hunting or target shooting with a compound bow, you’re probably already familiar with the capture nock. It has an extra deep groove for the string to sit in, along with a small indent that keeps the string in contact with the bolt, no matter how you’re holding the crossbow. As with the moon nock, the orientation of the bolt matters, and the vane will probably need to be pointing down.
Hybrid Moon Nocks
This one is a combination of the moon nock and the flat nock, allowing for the best of both worlds. The flat nock has three indentations made at 120-degree angles, which allows you to mount the bolt in various configurations while still preventing slippage of the bowstring while firing. This can be useful if your crossbow does not have a track or barrel and instead uses something like a whisker biscuit. If it does have a barrel, you’ll still need to mount the bolt in the regular position, with the vane pointed down.
LED nocks have a similar function to the tracer rounds used in firearms; the nock lights up soon after leaving the bow, allowing you to more easily see the path of your arrow in low light conditions. They function for about 30-40 hours before you need to replace the batteries.
This short video gives you an idea of what it’s like to fire bolts with LED nocks.
Listen to the Manufacturer
No style of nock is necessarily better than the other, which means you should normally buy the type that’s recommended by your crossbow’s manufacturer. As you switch between bows, however, it’s important to understand how they differ and how to use each style properly.