Choosing the best crossbow nock for your hunting bolts may not seem important, but the nock shape can have significant effects on string wear, crossbow function, and accuracy.
Over the past 20 years, crossbows for hunting have experienced a significant technological evolution with respect to both their size and performance. One notable change to hunting crossbows is how narrow the bow assemblies have become. In the late 1990’s, the cocked crossbow was around 24-inches. By 2010, bow assembly widths had shrunk by nearly 50% to around 12-inches wide when cocked. Today’s ultra-narrow, high performance crossbows can be as narrow as only 6-inches wide when cocked. In the span of 20 years, bow assembly technology has evolved so much that widths have shrunk by up to 18-inches.
Over the course of this evolution, crossbow bolt manufacturers have utilized several different crossbow nock shapes to achieve the best shooting results from crossbows. Some of the most popular have been flat, moon, and capture nocks. Proper string-to-nock engagement is critical for consistent, accurate shooting results and for the proper long-term functioning of your crossbow. When bow assemblies were wider, the string angle was wide enough that the string serving would stay in contact with the center of the nock’s string surface area or in the channel as the crossbow bolt travelled down the flight rail. However, as bow assemblies have narrowed, the shapes of flat, moon, and capture nocks are no longer ideal. In fact, using one of these classic nock types in a modern, narrow, high performance crossbow can lead to serious problems. In some cases, the bowstring can shoot under or over the nock, resulting in a simulated dry-fire event (even if your crossbow has a Dry-Fire-Inhibitor mechanism), or the nock can prematurely wear the center serving of the bowstring, eventually causing the serving to fail and requiring you to have the crossbow string replaced.
To overcome the obstacles presented by flat, moon, and capture nocks to ultra-narrow, high performance hunting crossbows, we designed and released a new style of nock called the Alpha-Nock. Its deep string channel increases string-to-nock engagement and holds the bowstring in place during the shot which prevents the string from shooting under or over the nock. It also has a large, smooth radius base that improves string-to-nock engagement and allows the string to contour around the sides of the nock without pinching or causing premature wear to the string’s center serving. Additionally, the unique shape allows for the string to be caught by the elongated “ears” and directed into the bowstring channel, even if the crossbow nock is loaded without being properly indexed to the cock vane. Flat, moon, and capture nocks do not have this design and cannot boast this feature. The greatest advantage of the Alpha-Nock design is that it yields consistent arrow launch and straighter nock travel, which ultimately translates into greater down-range accuracy. In fact, all TenPoint and Wicked Ridge arrows now come standard with the Alpha-Nock.
As the speed of crossbows has increased, the use of lighted nocks for crossbow bolts is almost essential to track your arrow in flight and see the point of impact on an animal. At TenPoint, we utilize a nock-and-receiver design in our crossbow bolts that allows you to easily convert your nocks from being non-lighted to lighted without changing the nock shape.
To perform the conversion, first, remove the standard white Alpha-Nock from the arrow’s glued-in receiver. Next, slide one of our Alpha-Brite Lite Sticks into one of our translucent Alpha-Brite Nocks, and look or feel for the indexing “bump”. Line up the indexing “bump” with the cock vane and slide the light stick and nock combination into the receiver until you feel the nock click into place. Upon shooting the arrow, the force of the bowstring causes the Alpha-Brite Lighted Crossbow Nock to sink into the receiver which activates the light in the LED light stick. To de-activate, simply remove the Alpha-Brite Lighted Crossbow Nock and light stick, then pull the lighted end of the LED unit until the light turns off. This turns the light off and allows you to use this light stick for a future harvest, as our Alpha-Brite Lite Sticks have an average lifespan of 8- to 10-hours. Best of all, you can initially sight your crossbow in with non-lighted Alpha-Nocks and perform the conversion to the Alpha-Brite Lighted Crossbow Nocks later, without requiring you to re-sight your scope.