How To Nock An Arrow On Your Bowstring

n this second lesson, you will learn how to nock your arrow to your bow string. This might seem incredibly easy, after all it’s just putting the arrow on the bowstring right? Nope! If you nock the arrow incorrectly then you will find you will completely miss your shot, or even cause an injury.  [/su_note]

It’s really surprising how many people seem to struggle with this process

What is Nocking The Arrow?

Nocking is when we hold the arrow and secure it onto the bowstring, once it’s nocked it snaps into place and should only fall off when we release the bowstring. At the end of your arrows you will notice a plastic part, this is what connects to the string and you should hear a “click” when it’s properly nocked.

As well as ensuring the arrow is fastened to the bowstring, you also need to make sure the arrow fletchings are on the right side so it passes the riser.

Image showing how to nock an arrow

How To Nock The Arrow?

  1.  The first step is to remove the arrow from your quiver, you should do this by picking it up on the shaft between the fletchings and the nock.
  2.  Position the bow so that it is facing downwards and place the shaft of the arrow onto your arrow rest. (We position it downwards in case of misfire)
  3.  On the arrow you will notice 3 vanes in the fletchings. The two that are the same colour are called hens and the single coloured vane is called the cock. You should position these so the cock vane is facing away from the bow.

If it’s the wrong way round then the vane will hit the riser when you release and cause the arrow to shoot off target.

(If you use a compound bow then you might position the arrow differently, depending on the arrow rest)

Once the vanes are positioned in the correct place, simply “Snap” the plastic nock on the bowstring. On a recurve bow is this positioning in between the nock locators if you use them, if you just have the one then it's often positioned below it.

And there you have it...pretty simple right?

Don’t be surprised if you see archer’s nocking their arrows a little differently, there is no specific way of doing it and you will soon develop a method that is easy for you. Some may simply use the one hand place into onto the rest and pill it back, others might use both hands.

The important thing to remember is safety, always nocking your arrows down to the ground and making sure you hear the “snap” before raising the bow.

Additional Tips On Nocking Your Arrow

Below are a couple of tips/things to look out for when nocking your arrows to your bow.

Nock Sizes

Since bowstrings come in different sizes, nocks are also not the same size. If you find when you try to nock the arrow and you don’t hear the “snap” or it’s incredibly tight, I would recommend looking at the nocks and checking that they are all the correct size.

The nock should comfortably snap into place and be fully secure.

Center Serving Maintenance

When your bow is strung, you will probably notice in the middle is a section of additional material. This is known as the center serving and is where you will nock your arrow. With continued use you might find this starts to fray and become worn, if this continues you might find the arrows become loose and easily fall off.

You therefore need to keep an eye on this and replace the center serving if this becomes an issue.


I hope this lesson has made it a little clearer on how you actually “fasten” the arrow to the bowstring. As already mentioned it’s really simple and as long as your have the vanes pointing in the right direction and you hear the “snap” you should be good to go.

Any questions please feel free to post them in the comments.