Q: I’ve been considering going to a lighted nock, but I’m wondering about the pros and cons and if the nocks are worth the expense. What is your advice? T. Heltegen, via e-mail
A: Thanks for your e-mail question. The answer is, yes, lighted nocks are worth the investment.
In fact, I recently changed my arrow-building philosophy because of the effectiveness of lighted nocks. For years, I used bright-colored Bohning vanes and wraps on my arrow shafts for two reasons. One, the wraps enhance the adhesion of my Heat vanes, which I put on with a three-degree helical orientation. Second, the bright color helped me, and the television camera, track the flight and the impact of my arrow. That is very important, especially with today’s fast arrows.
The downside of the bright vanes and wraps is you now have a quiver full of very bright arrows moving around as you walk or draw your bow, especially in low-light situations. It isn’t always a problem, but if there is even a chance an elk, mule deer, or a whitetail will catch a glimpse of that bright blotch of color moving around at the wrong time, that is a problem.
So, I made a change. Since my Lumenoks have assumed the job of helping me and the camera track my arrow, I no longer need that bright column of vanes and wraps waving around on my bow, attracting attention. Consequently, I went to a dark-red/black wrap, which will be nearly invisible to game, and will still help my equally inconspicuous red and black vanes adhere to my arrow shafts. Problem solved.
Some may be concerned that using a lighted nock adds weight to the back of their arrow, affecting the front-of-center balance. Depending on the manufacturer, a lighted nock will be anywhere from 8 to 15 grains heavier than a standard nock. That can reduce your FOC by slightly more than one percent. However, if you are using stainless or brass inserts to increase your FOC, the effect of adding a lighted nock is negligible. If you can shoot well enough to tell the difference of 8 to 15 grains, I’m happy for you.
As you shop for lighted nocks, be aware that they must fit the arrow shafts you are using. Lumenoks have a replaceable battery, so they last a long time but are a few grains heavier because of it. Nockturnals are another excellent option that incorporate a switch, which is activated by your bowstring. The battery is not replaceable, so they are a tad lighter. All brands of lighted nocks are now brighter than they were initially, so visibility is not an issue. You can even see them in broad daylight in many cases.
Besides the most critical reason for using lighted nocks, which is to positively identify the exact location of your shot placement, there are ancillary reasons. Obviously, they help you recover your arrow, so you can evaluate the shot based on the blood evidence. If the arrow remains in the animal, you can visually track it as the animal runs off, saving you tracking time. Also, if you need to mark last blood, or return to continue tracking later, you can stick an arrow in the ground with the nock lit and easily walk back to the exact spot.
Finally, if you practice with lighted nocks, it is very easy to follow your arrow in flight. If there is any “wiggle,” it will be visible. If it doesn’t look like a laser, you have tuning to do.
There are many reasons to use a lighted nock. The only downside is cost. Only you can decide if it is worth a few dollars to do everything you can to help you recover the animal for which you hunted so hard. Good luck!