How To Nock An Arrow The Right Way

By Moritz

Jun 23

nocking an arrow
This is the second technique you have to learn when starting to shoot with an arrow. It is vital to know how to nock an arrow the right way.

Before you continue make sure you read my introdution about the 10 Basic Archery Shooting Techniques and the first part of the training : The Proper Archery Stance.

What Does “Nock An Arrow” Even Mean?

If you are completely new to archery, you might not have heard the phrase “nock an arrow”.
It means that you load your bow with an arrow.
Arrows today have a notch, the so called “nock”, at its end that is curved and will pinch the bowstring slightly.
The nock prevents the arrow from getting lose from the bowstring or moving up and down unintentionally.
It keeps the arrow in place and makes an archers life much easier.

The nock goes way back in archery history. They were often just carved in the arrow shaft.
This can still be done today if you want to make an improvised arrow, but modern arrows mostly have a plastic (or made of other materials) nock that gets attached to the end of the arrow shaft.

The action we perform to load an arrow is called “nock an arrow”.

How do I Nock An Arrow The Right Way?

It is actually not very difficult, but still an important step.
Once done the right way, you will remember it easily and it will become second nature and you’ll do it without ever thinking about it.

The following two things are most important when you load the bow with an arrow.

  1. The index feather has to point away from the bow string
  2. The nock of the arrow is placed under the nocking point
nocking an arrow

Nocking an arrow.

Modern arrows have an index feather that has a different color than the other two feathers. This helps nocking the arrow the right way and is crucial, because if the index feather would not point away from the bowstring one of the feathers would touch the bow when flying forward and you would not be able to shoot straight.

Most bows nowadays have a bowstring with a nocking point.
You just place the nock of the arrow under this point. Push the nock against the string until you hear and feel it snap into the bowstring.

You have now nocked an arrow. You will notice that you don’t even have to hold the arrow with your hand now, as the nock holds it in place.

What’s next?

You have again finished a part of your training to become a great archer.
I hope you are enjoying your time here and on the archery range.
Whenever you have a questions, please let me know in the comments and I will help you with all my archery knowledge.

Follow along while I keep teaching you the archery shooting techniques.

In the next article I will talk about how to hook the bow string.
This is again a rather easy technique but has to be discussed so that you get the whole picture.

Talk to you soon.

Moritz

>> Next Step: Hook The Bow String – An Easy But Vital Step

<< Previous Step: The Proper Archery Stance – More Than Just Standing At A Line


About the Author

Hi, as a huge archery enthusiast I love sharing my knowledge about archery. Enjoy your stay and don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question.

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(18) comments

Richard U. June 26, 2015

I must say that I quite enjoyed reading about this great hobby and I am thinking of starting with archery, too.

It seems to be a lot of fun.

A quick question, though; How long does it take a new beginner to master the art of archery ?
What is a good bow to start with?

Richard

Reply
    Moritz June 27, 2015

    ​Hello Richard,
    archery is definitely a lot of fun. I wouldn’t want to miss it!

    In answer to your first questions I have to say that it is difficult to answer.
    You will see results quickly when you practice regularly and you will be able to increase the distance to your target after a short time, too.
    But if you really want to master archery, you will have to practice for many years.

    Read my ​training guide for archery​ and how to ​get started with archery​ to learn more about this awesome activity.

    Moritz

    Reply
Marc June 27, 2015

Great review for nocking an arrow. I have really enjoyed your site and have been looking at many pages. It is full of a lot of useful information and great reminders. When I was younger I loved archery. I was not very good at it, mind you, but I loved it. Now that I am a little older and maybe will be getting some more time I have been thinking about taking it up again. That is why I have been poking around on your site.
Thanks again for the reminders.
Marc

Reply
    Moritz June 27, 2015

    Hello Marc,

    thank you so much for your comment. I am happy that you are enjoying my site!

    Give archery another chance and try it again.

    Read my archery training to know what steps are important to become a great archer!

    Cheers

    Moritz

    Reply
Jean June 28, 2015

Hi Moritz,

So I was one of those kids that watched robin hood and really really wanted to be a fantastic archer! Well I never once picked up a bow and arrow lol…guess I let that one fall away. I remember the stories about the amazonians being great warriors and I kept meaning to get around to it. Guess there is always time!

Looking over the articles on your site this seems to be a great resource for beginning archers. Even though you say its super simple, nocking an arrow sounds kind of complicated though I am guessing its because I can’t think of the last time I have actually looked at a modern day bow (the ones in robin hood arent as fancy!)

I plan to keep checking back. When I finally get around to picking up a bow of any sort I will be sure to let you know =)

Jean

Reply
    Moritz June 29, 2015

    Hi Jean,

    I loved the Robin Hood movies and books, too! I am actually a big fan of the medieval area. I am not sure I would really liked to have lived at that time, as it’s only romantic in the novels. 😉
    Real life was much harder at that time.

    But this interest brought me to archery and I still love shooting a longbow without any technical stuff. Just me and the plain bow.
    I do shoot modern bows, too.

    At first, most people think that shooting a bow is easy. Just pull the string and let it go, right?
    Then, they suddenly notice that there is way more to it, and in the end, after some months, they got used to it and it seems to be more easy again.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you.
    I hope you will pick up archery one day. I wouldn’t want to miss it in my life!

    Moritz

    Reply
Debra June 28, 2015

I am very impressed with your instructions. I have read a few of your how to’s and have to commend you on being very thorough. I was an instructor many, many years ago and the sport seems to have a misconception that it is just shooting an arrow from a bow. Noching an arrow is an important part of getting it to fly correctly so I hope no one takes this instruction for granted.

Reply
    Moritz June 29, 2015

    Thank you Debra for leaving a comment and backing me up on this one.

    I can’t stress it enough that this and all of the other steps in my training are essential if somebody wants to become a decent archer.

    Some techniques are easier than others, but they are all important.

    Cheers

    Moritz

    Reply
Lynne July 1, 2015

The only experience I have of archery is when my sister and I used to make our own bows and arrows by ripping my mothers garden to shreds and then trying to shoot the chickens.
We never got a single one. Do you offer any advice on making your own archery equipment or do you focus on training only?

Reply
    Moritz July 1, 2015

    Hey Lynne,

    this is exactly how I started with archery, too! I didn’t try to shoot chickens, though. 😉

    At the moment I am focusing on the training, youth archery, and much more.
    I am planning to write about crafting survival bows and arrows, but this will happen in the future. Maybe in several weeks or months.

    Moritz

    Reply
Michael Hills September 11, 2015

I had no idea about the nocking an arrow. No wonder I’m not good at archery. Listening and feeling the snap into the bowstring makes perfect sense. Thanks for the tip. I’m pretty good at axe throwing, but I want to improve my archery skill, as I enjoy it more than axe throwing. What would you suggest is the best beginner bow?

Reply
    Moritz September 12, 2015

    Hi Michael.

    Yes, the right technique is really very important in archery. Even small mistakes can decrease your accuracy.
    Make sure that you read through my whole archery training.

    About the bow:
    This depends on what kind of bow you would like to shoot with.

    You can go through my reviews, or read my bow types guide, where I explain all the differences and link to several bows.

    Let me know when you need any further help.

    Moritz

    Reply
johnsonb September 30, 2015

I don’t know if archery could bring relaxation and based on your explanation I think this is a good sport too. It is not too heavy and could make us focus and fun.
I wonder if you always practice in archery range or have you try in other places ? Are there any safety regulation ? Good Luck!

Reply
    Moritz October 1, 2015

    Hi John,

    archery has many health benefits besides relaxation. Check out my article about that topic. 🙂

    I used to shoot a lot on archery ranges, indoor and outdoor.
    Now I have my own “archery range”. It is nothing fancy. Just a target that I can set up on different distances and a backstop netting.

    I am not really sure about official regulations and they could vary depending on where you live.
    But you do have to keep yourself and others safe when shooting a bow at home or in a forest.
    First, you need protective archery gear for yourself.
    Second, you need at least a backstop netting and need to follow certain safety rules.
    I talk about all this in my post about safety equipment.
    Please make sure you read those articles and follow along if you are planning to practice archery at home.

    Have a great day.

    Moritz

    Reply
Daniella November 23, 2015

Hi Moritz,

What a nice article, I really enjoyed reading it!

I always wanted to know how to use a bow, but to tell the truth, I am scared of this. It could be dangerous:)

One thing is certain, I am going to show this article to my husband, I am sure he will love it. I have a few questions, though, do women practice this kind of sport?

Can children practice as well and if yes from what age?

Thank you very much

Reply
    Moritz November 23, 2015

    Fred Bear Archery Montana LongbowHello Daniella.

    Welcome to My Archery Corner. I am happy you like my site.

    To answer your questions.
    Archery can be done by everybody! You just need to follow some safety rules and learn how to shoot a bow properly.
    It is not that dangerous when people handle the bow with respect.

    Women are more than capable of shooting a bow.
    Men have no advantage over women in this sport.

    Kids can start shooting early on, too.
    I would say that they are fine to start at an age of 4.
    Just make sure you get a children-friendly bow like this Youth Archery Set.
    For a bit older children I recommend the Bear Archery Apprentice 3 Compound Bow.

    If your husband wants to start shooting and maybe prefers a traditional bow, then he should have a look at the

    Let me know when you have any further questions. 🙂

    Moritz

    Reply
William Melgaard August 19, 2017

I recently read a novel in which the heroine drew back the arrow by pinching the arrow. That was purportedly more accurate than the alternatives.
The Occidental bow pull (most commonly taught) places the arrow on the knuckles side of the bow, colored fletching also on that side, and draws the arrow with the fingers curled around the string.
The Oriental bow pull draws the arrow with the thumb curled around the string instead of the fingers. Since the thumb is on the opposite side of the hand from the fingers, that means that the arrow must be nocked on the fingers side of the bow. I have heard that the Oriental pull is easier on the shoulder for very heavy bow pulls.

Would you care to comment on these alternatives?

Reply
    Moritz August 20, 2017

    Hello William,

    I have only used the technique I describe in this article here.
    While I know about the other ways, I can’t say which is really the best.

    But it is an interesting topic.
    I will do some research and write an article about it.
    Going to link to it here.

    Thanks for your great comment and insights.

    Have a great Sunday!
    Moritz

    Reply
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