Nocking height


The nocking height is the distance the bottom of the arrow nock above (or very occasionally, below) the level of the arrow rest.

The best place to start is with a zero nocking height.  In other words, the bottom of the nock exactly level with the arrow rest.  Although I call it 'zero', it will in fact raise the centre of the arrow shaft very slightly above rest level, which is usually what is wanted.

N.B. The use of 'D' loops is not dealt with here.  I have tried them several times over the years, but for some reason I have never understood, I seem to be the only archer in the world who doesn't get on with them.  They affect my vertical grouping very badly, so consequently I have very little practical experience of them.

  1. Clip a bow square to the string, move it until it just touches the arrow rest or launcher when hanging vertically and mark the 'zero' level on the string.  This is where the bottom nocking point will fit, if necessary.  Fit a nock at this mark and make another mark fractionally above it; you must leave a small gap between nocking point and nock to prevent pinch at full draw, especially on modern, shorter bows.

Finding the 'zero' level can be tricky if your rest has a deep 'V', or if you use prongs instead of a single arm, as there is nothing to place your bow square on that corresponds to the arrow.  There are several ways around this.  First, you can just guess it, which will probably be good enough at this stage.  Second, some bow squares, such as the excellent 'Jim Dandy' (don't blame me, I didn't choose the name) have a wide, radiused bottom edge that imitates an average arrow quite well.  Finally, if you want to be really cunning, cut a slot along an offcut of the size arrow shaft you intend to use and slide it on to your bow square: the cutting wheel on a 'Dremel'-type miniature rotary tool works well for this.  

The important thing is that, once you have decided what level you want to start at, make sure you set your bow square on some solid part of the rest or launcher, and make a note of the reading.  All checks and adjustments can then be taken from there.

  1. Attach a nocking point at the upper mark.  I do not recommend any sort of metal nocking points, as they damage both the nock and the string.  Use serving thread or Dacron bowstring material.  Apply nine tight overhand knots, starting at the mark and working upwards, then cut the ends to about 1/4 inch (5mm) and secure them by melting (please don't set fire to the string - I really have seen it done!).  The main advantages of this type of nocking point are that it does no damage and, although it will never move accidentally, it can (with a little bit of luck) be adjusted by screwing up or down the serving, particularly if you use monofil.

  2. Attach a lower nocking point, if necessary - see diagram below.  It is necessary:

  •  If you use any release that attaches directly to the string rather than using a rope, 

  • If the release rope fouls the nock at full draw, or 

  • If your nocks are on the loose side.  

Check particularly for rope fouling as the other two should never happen - you should never use a jaw-type release directly on the string, and you should not permit loose nocks.  Come carefully to full draw and look at the release rope.  If it is fouling the nock, as it often will be with a modern, short bow, tie on three to five overhand knots, as before, but starting at the lower nocking mark and working downwards, remembering the gap. Check again and try more knots if necessary, but don't overdo it as there are disadvantages to having your release and your nock too far apart.  Some people use a rubber 'eliminator button', rather than a second nocking point.  I have no experience of this, but instinctively mistrust the system - it looks like fouling to me!  If you are in doubt, let the size and consistency of your groups be the final decider - as always.