Why Can’t We Get Nocking Points Right?

I am busy getting another issue of Archery Focus magazine ready for posting and I ran across this image:

This may be a pet peeve of mine, but still . .  sheesh. The line is pointing to the nocking point locator. The “nocking point” is the point on the bow string where the arrow attaches, so in this diagram it is the section of the string under the orange-red nock of the arrow.

Part of the miscommunication is that we are a bit loose with our terminology. The word “nock” means “notch” in essence. The limb tips of recurve bows, for example, have limb tip nocks or limb tip notches. They are what the bowstring loop slides into when the bow is braced/strung.

Arrows have nocks, which began as a simple notch cut into the back end of the arrow shaft. And designated nocking points on bowstrings began, I believe, as a dyed spot on the string. Bowyers dyed a spot on the bowstring to give archers a guide as to where to place the arrow when shooting. This isn’t particularly precise, but remember the bows in question didn’t have grips, just a roughly tubular segment in the middle where archers grabbed the bow. The nocking point just needed to be slightly above the “arrow rest” which was the bow hand.

Other forms of nocking point locators were little pieces of string of a contrasting color tied onto the bowstring. Later when a more defined bow grip was built into bows was a more refined nocking point location more desirable.

Today, of course, we use “positive” nocking point locators that hold the arrow in a defined place.

The looseness of the term is amplified by people calling brass, clamp-on nocking point locators “nocks,” along with those on the arrows, so we end up placing a nock (arrow nock) next to a nock (nocking point locator). No wonder beginners get confused.

Now, it is not necessary to use long terms like “nocking point locator” but clearly referring to the section of bowstring the arrow attaches to as the “nocking point” of the arrow on the string will certainly clear up a lot of confusion. This is the implied meaning, the point on the bowstring where the arrow nock is placed.

Of course, “getting the memo out,” is always problematic in archery.


Filed under For All Coaches

2 responses to “Why Can’t We Get Nocking Points Right?

  1. Brass rings lined with a rubbery material then crimped onto the string are usually referred as nock sets in this part of the world. Perhaps lacking precision in definition but indicating they are used to set a nocking point rather than being a nock in themselves. I wonder what words are used in other parts of the world to describe these?


    • They are so referred to here, by a minority of the well informed, I believe. I just did a quick search of the Lancaster Archery Supply web site for “nock sets” and got 60+ hits, none of which were what we were talking about (except a kit in which they were used to increase bow speed). There were D-loops of various constructions, actual nocks, etc.

      We all speak in code when talking to others who are fellow travelers. Mostly we just save breath by not using full terminology, but shortened versions. At car mechanics we get “lube jobs.” At Butchers we get “pork butts.” And so on. Anything anywhere near where the arrow attaches to the string has been shortened to “nock” it seems.

      On Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 8:15 AM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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