Explained: Nock Fit

Professional archer and bowhunter John Dudley, host of the Nock On television show, covers proper nock fit in this third installment of Nocked and Ready to Rock.

Dudley is covering all aspects of finding and shooting the proper arrows in this season’s, 13-part series of Nocked and Ready to Rock.

Having your nock fit correctly on your bowstring is important for arrow accuracy, Dudley explains. If it’s too tight or too loose, accuracy will suffer. Dudley explains how to determine if your nock fits properly, and what to do if it doesn’t.

A basic guide to arrow nocks

It was in 1991 that the “Iceman” was discovered by hikers high up in the Italian Alps near the border with Austria.

Among the artifacts recovered alongside his mummified corpse were an unfinished longbow, a quiver and a handful of arrows, only two of which were ready to be shot. They had leaf-shaped flint heads held in place within a notch by wood pitch and sinew; three trimmed feathers for fletchings; and notches cut into the back end to receive the bowstring.

So archers have been using nocks of some fashion for more than 5,000 years, because the Iceman is believed to have died 5,300 years ago. Today, arrow nocks are much more sophisticated, but they still serve the same purpose.


Press-fit nocks arguably are the most common nock today, as they are used with nearly all but the skinniest carbon shafts. They’re also used with many aluminum shafts, too. As the category name implies, to install a press-fit nock, you simply slide the nock post inside the arrow shaft, and press down until the shaft end contacts the actual nock.


insert nock


No glue is required with press-fit nocks. You just stick them in, and pull them out, as needed.

They are completely indexable, which means you can turn them to any position to align properly with your fletchings and to achieve rest and/or cable clearance for your fletchings.

With press-fit nocks, it’s critical to know what shaft you’re shooting, since not all shafts have the same inside diameter. Naturally, all arrow manufacturers make nocks to fit their arrows. Aftermarket press-fit nocks bear the common sizes G, F, X, A, H, S and GT.

G and F nocks fit shafts with a .166-inch inside diameter.

X and A nocks fit shafts with a .204-inch inside diameter.

H and H.E. nocks fit shafts with a .234-inch inside diameter.

S nocks ‑ also called Super Nocks ‑ fit shafts with a .244-inch inside diameter.

GT nocks fit shafts with a .246-inch inside diameter.

Some archers will put aluminum Uni-bushings into the nock ends of their arrows in order to help protect the shafts from being damaged by other arrows. They then must find press-fit nocks that fit those bushings.

Also, bowhunters use certain press-fit nocks with battery-powered lights inside that light up when an arrow is released. The lighted nocks help bowhunters recover game and/or their arrows in poor light.


Pin nocks are tiny nocks that fit onto an aluminum pin that’s installed into the nock end of the shaft. The pin bushings are meant to protect shafts from being damaged by other arrows. Any nock labeled as a “pin” nock will fit any pin insert, since all pins are a standard size.

pin nock

Pin nocks are popular among competition archers, who shoot expensive shafts they don’t want to get damaged. Also, target archers believe the smaller, more fragile pin nocks tend to be more accurate and they minimize deflections of their own arrows, which could result in an arrow getting pushed into a lesser scoring ring.


The overnocks are those attached to an arrow by sliding the arrow inside the nock. The nock fits over top of the shaft.


Overnocks are most commonly used with carbon arrows and they come in nearly two dozen sizes to fit a host of shafts. They’re also used with shafts made of other materials. Easton’s X10 Overnock, for example, can be used with the company’s X10 aluminum/carbon shafts.


These nocks are used on aluminum arrows with the cone-shaped back ends, called the swage. They come in several sizes which correlate to shaft diameters. You can simply press these nocks into place and tighten by hand, or you can lock them in place with a non-cyanoacrylate glue.

conventional nock


Some other nock references you need to be aware of are “small groove” and “large groove” sizings. The groove is the opening between the nock posts or ears. The small-groove nocks are meant for the skinnier bowstrings, like you’d find on low-poundage recurve bows. The large-groove nocks are meant for compound bows and for recurves with thicker strings.

You want your nock to make an audible click when you seat the nock on the bowstring. Usually, you’ll only hear that click when the nock fits perfectly. You don’t want your nock to be too tight or too loose on the string.


Crossbow nocks, obviously, are the nocks used with crossbow bolts. There’s the flat nock, the half-moon, the Omni-Nock – which features six micro-grooves that form three bowstring channels – and the Capture nock – which closely resembles a traditional arrow nock.

crossbow nocks

From left, flat nock, capture nock, Omni-Nock and half-moon nock.

Different crossbow manufacturers recommend different nocks for their bows. Check to see which one is recommended for the bow you’re shooting.

The nock is the critical connection between your arrow and the bowstring. Know which one you need to get the job done right.

DIY Arrow Repairs

There’s nothing finer than taking home a brand new set of arrows. The shafts are clean. The fletchings are crisp and pristine. They’re visions of beauty.

Spend a couple weeks on the range with those arrows, though, and they might not look so pure. They can take a beating, and get damaged. Learn a few simple repair tricks, and you can keep those arrows flying for a long time.


At some point, whether you shoot arrows fletched with feathers or vanes, you’re going to either lose a fletching, or one or more is going to be damaged and need to be replaced.


Of course, you can take such arrows to your local pro shop, and they’ll take care of them for you. But with a fletching jig of your own, this is an easy fix you can do at home.

Let’s say you take a shot with an arrow, and one fletching flies off or partially separates from the shaft. Some archers like to take such an arrow, strip off the remaining fletchings, and put three or four new ones on. Nothing wrong with that. And, in fact, if your nocks are glued in place, this is the easiest solution. Otherwise, you’ll have to cut off your nock, put a new one on without gluing it, and then follow the steps below.

With movable nocks, you can replace only the missing fletching. Use a stripping tool to remove any remaining vane material and glue. With carbon arrows, be careful not to gouge the shaft with the tool. You only want to remove extraneous surface material.

arrow stripper

When finished, the shaft should feel smooth where the fletching had been. Wipe the spot with a lacquer thinner to remove any remaining glue, followed by 100 percent denatured alcohol – 91 percent isopropyl works too.

Place your arrow in the fletching jig and spin the shaft, while holding the nock in place, until you line up one of the remaining fletchings in the spot it would be if you had just glued it in place in the jig. Now turn the arrow rotation dial one click toward the missing-fletching section. When it stops, you should be in the right spot to glue on a new fletching.

Clamp a new fletching in place without any glue on it to see if the spacing between it and the adjacent fletchings looks equal. Also check the distance between the nock and fletching to make sure the new one will match the others. If everything lines up, you’re ready to glue.


(If you’re using a jig that clamps all of your fletchings in place at one time, simply line up the remaining fletchings in the jig and glue the missing one using the empty slot.)

Those of you shooting the curly tape-on vanes can put your arrow in a jig like you’re going to fletch it. Using a pen, mark the spot where the replacement vane should go, then install the vane by hand.

Or you can use one of the tools specially designed to help line up these vanes. There’s the Beiter Tri-Liner Tool and the Spigarelli Spin Wing Fletcher. Both allow you to mark the shafts where you want to install the curly vanes.



It’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking your arrows for cracks. This can be done by visually looking over the shaft or slightly flexing an all carbon shaft. If your arrow is cracked, there’s nothing you can do to save it in its present condition. Cracks compromise the structural integrity of an arrow.

arrow cracked

Assuming the crack is confined to the end(s) of the shaft, you can cut off the shaft at least 1 inch beyond the end of the crack. That arrow is likely too short for your use now, but maybe you can pass it on to someone with a shorter draw length.


Carbon arrows don’t bend, so here we’re talking strictly about aluminum, and – to some degree – aluminum/carbon combo shafts.

Provided the bends aren’t sharp, aluminum and aluminum/carbon arrows often can be straightened. To do it right, you’re going to need an arrow straightener, such as the AAE Arrow Straightener or the Grayling Perfect Arrow Straightener.


With this tool, you can spin a shaft, and an indicator tracks high and low spots. Set the high spot under the indicator and press down on a lever that bends the shaft back into place. Some straighteners allow you to fix bends all the way out to the very ends of a shaft. Others will only work on bends more than about 4 inches from the ends.


Nocks crack and break frequently. It doesn’t take much of an impact to render them worthless. In most cases, all you have to do is pull them out and put a new one in place. Keep several with you at all times, and you’ll never be in a jam.

Sometimes nocks break off down inside the shaft and there’s nothing sticking out to grab onto with pliers. Pick up a drywall screw with a set of pliers, heat the pointed end and stick it down inside the shaft into the back of the broken nock. You should then be able to pull the nock remnants out.

If your nocks are glued, you’re going to have to cut a damaged nock free. Remove all of the plastic bits from the shaft end before gluing on a replacement nock.

Nocks can be prone to cracking from repeated use. As with checking your arrows for cracks, it’s also a good idea to check nocks periodically. If a nock no longer snaps on the string, it’s a good idea to replace it.


Hit something hard inside a target, or strike a rock on a pass-through or miss, and you can easily flatten or bend an arrow point.

With an aluminum arrow, you can heat the point to soften the glue holding it or its insert in place, and pull it out of the shaft.

You can do the same with a carbon arrow, but you run the risk of making the end of the shaft brittle, due to the heat. Overheating a carbon arrow can damage it beyond repair. If you’ve got a glue-in point, hopefully you used a hot-melt glue. Just heat the tip and pull the point free with a set of pliers as quickly as possible, using as little heat as possible.


Sometimes points bend inside the screw-in inserts in a shaft, making it impossible to unscrew the point. Slide something relatively heavily inside the shaft from the nock end. (Drill bits work great for this.) Hold the arrow in your hand with the point-end in the air, and then whip the shaft downward, so the drill bit slams into the back of the insert. This should break it free from the glue.

Be careful when you do this. That bit and insert can fly out of the shaft and injure you or someone standing nearby. So wear safety glasses to protect your eyes, and make sure no one else is in the room with you.

Now you can glue in a new insert and install a new point.

Gold Tip GTO Nock

Lancaster Archery Supply TechXPert Randy Groff reviews the Gold Tip GTO Nock. This is a new arrow nock introduced by Gold Tip in 2015. Using the appropriate bushing, the GTO nock can be used in just about any Gold Tip arrow.

Groff points out that the GTO nock is short, so it doesn’t flex, and its throat is rounded, which enables the string to oscillate when the nock is attached. Allowing the string to oscillate aids in arrow flight, and helps to mask imperfections in shooting form.

Nockturnal Lighted Nocks

The Nockturnal Lighted Nocks are described by Lancaster Archery TechXPert Justus Leimbach. The nocks function like any other arrow nock in holding the arrow on the bowstring. At the shot, a battery-powered light is activated. Leimbach describes how to turn off the light after the arrow is recovered.

The light makes it easier for the archer to follow the arrow’s flight. Also, it helps a bowhunter find the arrow after it’s been shot at game – especially after dark.