Correct Way to Nock an Arrow On a Recurve and Compound Bow, with a whisker biscuit, and a Drop Away Rest

Nocking the arrow is the process of loading the arrow onto the bowstring. Once nocked, the nock should snap securely into place without getting lose from the string.

Providing you have set your nocking point right and practiced your shooting stance correctly, nocking an arrow is the easiest step of the shot cycle.

There are many variations and ways of doing this depending on the types of bows that you use and the kinds of archery that you practice.

In this post, I’m going to cover the simplest methods out of all.

How to Nock an Arrow on a Barebow

The following are the steps to nock an arrow on a bare bow.

1.The first step is to take the arrow from the quiver.

Depending on the types of quivers, some archers prefer to grab and pull the arrow out by holding the nock end, and some prefer to hold the arrow by the shaft.

If you wear a back quiver, you might find it easier to grab and pull the arrow by holding the area around the nock. Meanwhile, if you wear a hip or thigh quiver, you might be more comfortable grabbing and holding the arrow by its shaft before the fletching.

The hip quiver is designed so that arrows protrude forward. From this position, it’s quick and easy to grip and take the arrows out.

Most experienced thumb shooters use a pinch grip — pinch the arrow using only the thumb and index finger, not a whole hand — to pull the arrow out quickly from hip quivers.

It doesn’t matter how you hold the arrow, either by the shaft before the fletching or by the nock end as, as long as you stay consistent every time.

2. Hold the bow high up then place the arrow on the grip.

With the bow pointed toward the sky, put the arrow on the right-hand side of the grip resting on the base of the bow hand thumb (if you use a thumb draw), or put the arrow on the left-hand side of the grip (if you use a Mediterranean draw).

Although there are a number of bow-holding positions available while nocking the arrow, holding your bow in a high port is the best position for a traditional or barebow.

The reason is that a traditional or barebow doesn’t have a stabilizer to support the bow and keep it level when nocking. To stabilize the bow, barebow shooters need to high the bow high up.

Another reason is, for horseback archers, this position keeps the bow out of the way of the horse. If you bring the bow into your lap while you nock, you’ll increase the chance of the bow or the arrow hitting the horse as you nock.

3. Traditional arrows have three feathers with the same color in the fletchings. If you shoot using traditional arrows, you need to position the arrow so that one of the feathers is in an angle 90° to the bow grip.

Nocking the arrow with a pinch grip

4. Slide your draw hand down the arrow shaft to the nock. Then pinch the nock using the pinch grip method (pinching the nock between your thumb and index finger).

5. Once pinched push the arrow forward while keeping it in lateral contact against the string. Keep pushing the arrow until the arrow nock touches the string.

6. Snap the nock onto the string below the nocking point, and slid up the string into the right position.

Here’s the video of NuSensei showing how to do a pinch grip.

Nocking the arrow with a scoop grip

Alternatively, you can also hold the nock with a scoop grip method. Similar with the pinch grip, you keep the nock between the thumb and index finger. The only difference is the rest of your hand is cupped with the palm facing upward.

Once the nock is held, push the arrow toward the string in one scooping movement. Pull the nock onto the string under the nocking point, use the lower fingers of your draw hand to feel the string. Then slide the arrow up into the correct place.

How to Nock an Arrow on a Recurve Bow

1.Reach into the quiver and grab the arrow around the area before the fletching or by the nock end, it’s up to you how you grab the arrow.

2. Position the bow so that the bow is pointing toward the ground. In the case of a recurve bow, we want the bow facing downward, and the limbs are in a vertical position not leaning to the left or right to avoid interfering with the archer next to you.

3. Once you have positioned the bow, place the shaft onto the arrow rest or riser.

4. Position the arrow so that the index vane or the index feather points away from the bow.

Most modern arrow fletchings consist of three clusters of feathers or three clusters of plastic (called vane). The two but one have the same color. The same colored feathers/vanes are called hens, and the single colored feather/vane is called the index feather/the index vane/the cock.

You want to make sure the index vane is facing away from the bow when you shoot; otherwise, one of the vanes will hit the bow during the release and throw the arrow out of its correct flight and miss the target.

5. Once the fletchings are correctly aligned, the last step is to snap the nock onto the bowstring under the nock locator or between the two nock locators if you use two.

Once snapped, you should be able to feel the nock clicked securely onto the string.

How to Nock an Arrow on a Compound Bow

The process is pretty much the same with a compound bow. It’s even easier to nock an arrow with a compound bow since compound bows can have different types of arrow rest which make the index feather obsoletes.

Another thing to point out is that you may or may not hear the clicking sound when the nock connects to the string, it’s fine as long as you can feel the nock attached securely onto the string.

How to Nock an Arrow with a Whisker Biscuit

The process is the same with nocking an arrow with a recurve bow: starting with removing the arrow from the quiver and end up snapping the arrow onto the bowstring.

The only difference is as you lay the shaft onto the rest the index feather can point anywhere.

Whisker biscuit tends to self-correct, the most important thing to remember when nocking with a whisker biscuit is to set it up right from the beginning. Once tuned right, the rest is easy.

How to Nock an Arrow with a Drop Away Rest

With a drop away rest, the index vane can point up or point toward the ground. It doesn’t matter as long as you have a clearance on the cables. Try both positions and see which one that yields the best result for you.