Over the past 20 years, crossbows have experienced a significant technological evolution with respect to both their size and performance. One significant change to hunting crossbows is how narrow the bow assemblies have become. In the late 1990’s, the widths of cocked crossbows were in the neighborhood of 24-inches when cocked. 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 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 manufacturers have utilized several different nock shapes to achieve the best shooting results from their crossbows. Some of the most commonly utilized styles have been moon nocks and capture nocks. In early 2019, a totally new nock shape was introduced to the market by TenPoint: the Alpha-Nock. Since its introduction, many people have equated its shape to the classic moon and capture nock styles, but to make this equivocation is to sell short the intricate design of the Alpha-Nock and the features that set it apart from moon and capture nocks. In other words, the Alpha-Nock is NOT just another moon or capture nock.
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 channel as the arrow travelled down the flight rail. However, as bow assemblies have narrowed, the shapes of 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 string replaced.
The Alpha-Nock’s shape was designed specifically to overcome these obstacles presented by moon and capture nocks. 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 nock is loaded without being properly indexed to the cock vane. Moon and capture nocks do not have this design and cannot boast this feature. The greatest advantage of the new Alpha-Nock design is that it yields consistent arrow launch and straighter nock travel which ultimately translates into greater down-range accuracy.