Key Tips to Know When Bow Hunting Turkeys

Bow Hunting Turkey Tips


Spring is a magical time of year. The snow is gone, temperatures are rising, and there’s that fresh smell in the air. As if those things weren’t enough, you suddenly hear a gobble which solidifies that Spring is here and it’s just about time to get into the turkey woods. Turkey hunting presents several challenges and harvesting a gobbler with a shotgun isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do. However, if you’re looking for even greater of a challenge then you might consider chasing these birds with your bow. Bow hunting turkeys requires an overhaul on your strategy, your gear, and most importantly your setup. If you plan to hit the woods with the same strategy you use for shotgun hunting, success will likely not be achieved. Here are a few things you need to consider changing when chasing toms with a bow.

#1 Make Sure You Have Cover 

It’s no secret turkeys have an incredible vision which makes getting away with movement near impossible. Fortunately, most turkey hunters can limit movement by using a shotgun propped up on shooting sticks or on the knee. Unfortunately, bow hunters don’t have this luxury. Given the increased movement associated with drawing your bow, you’ll need to make sure plenty of cover is available in your setup. This starts to limit the run and gun setups where you can simply sit in front of a tree or on a field edge like you can with a shotgun.

PHOTO | The Virtue TV

Most hunters can take a safe approach and use a popup blind. This is an easy way to ensure that your movements will be mostly concealed. Popup blinds also allow for increased comfort which is a necessity if you plan on sitting all day waiting for your bird to show up. However, the one negative of using a popup blind is that it limits your mobility. If running and gunning is more of your style leaving your popup blind and chasing after a tom with your bow can prove to be more difficult, but it’s not impossible. Carrying some type of meshing or 2-3 ft. blind skirt that you can set up quickly will give you some concealment, though trying to draw on a tom in this situation can still to be difficult.  

#2 Drawing on a Gobbler 

Similar to bow hunting other species, getting to full draw on a strutting gobbler is the hardest part of closing the deal. Even though you may be hunting out of a popup blind, there are still some things to consider to make sure you reach a full “safe draw” without being detected. One of the best times to draw is when a tom is at full strut and facing away from you. Their fan will almost guarantee that they will not see you when you’re drawing. Using decoys in your setup will also help you when you’re drawing. Setting your decoys up so they‘re facing you will help to bring the bird in front of your decoys and turn to face them and, in turn, face away from you. This will also help keep the tom’s attention on the decoy and not what’s going on around him.

Keep in mind this strategy of a “safe draw” might have to be thrown out of the window when there are multiple birds. If two or more toms come into a set make sure you take the most opportune time to draw. This usually is a split second as one or maybe multiple birds are facing away. If there are three or more birds and enough time has passed where they’re starting to figure out the decoys you might have to make a tough call. In these situations, if you can draw when at least one or two of the most distracted birds (the most aggressive toms) are facing away or have their vision blocked, that is the best time to draw. While the other birds might throw an alarm putt and even take off, the most distracted bird(s) will likely stay busy or become more aware but still be confused. They’ll likely stick around the decoys giving you enough time to take a well-aimed shot.

Tricks for Drawing Your Bow 

Whether you’re in a blind, or out in the open with some light concealment there are several things you can do even at the opportune time to create a more concealed draw. For bow hunting turkeys in a blind, getting out of a chair and drawing on your knees below the blind window could be an option. This will allow you to draw under the window then slowly come up for the shot. This gives you the opportunity to let the draw down under the blind as well. This can be applied to light concealment when running and gunning as well. Drawing under the makeshift blind could hide movement. Also keep in mind that you can initiate your draw cycle while pointing your bow in the general direction of your target and drawing straight back to your face, then slowly bring the bow around to the bird. This is helpful if you‘re hiding behind a structure like a tree, terrain, or thick brush where lowering the draw is not an option due to vegetation or your body’s position. Remember, in any and all of these situations no matter how you get the bow back if there is even the slightest chance of that bird seeing movement make sure you draw very slowly!

  PHOTO | The Virtue TV

#3 Decoys and Distance 

Knowing your effective range is important regardless of whether you choose to chase turkeys with a shotgun or a bow, but most would agree that hunters are generally less efficient with archery gear than a shotgun. Make sure that you practice with your archery equipment and know exactly how far you feel comfortable shooting too. Also, don’t forget to practice shooting in positions you’ll find yourself in the field as you’ll likely have to let a shot go while sitting or while kneeling.  

Having a rangefinder with you on a turkey hunt is a must, but turkeys have great eyesight so you’ll want to minimize your movement when you have a gobbler in range. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, set your decoys out at a distance that is well within your effective range. This will help to accomplish two things. First, having the decoys closer than your maximum effective range likely means that you will still be able to take a shot even if the tom hangs up beyond your decoys. Second, knowing the distance your decoys are away from you will allow them to serve as a reference point so you can estimate the distance on a gobbler if he happens to catch you off guard. If you’re in a situation where you don’t have your decoys set up, range natural land markers like easily identifiable trees, shrubs, or bunches of grass. Having things pre-ranged, regardless of whether they’re your decoys or natural land markers, will help you minimize movement and increase your chances of closing the deal on a gobbler.

PHOTO | Open Season TV

#4 Turkey Vitals and Shot Placement 

Traditional shot placement on a turkey with a shotgun is in the head and neck region. And although this is still a viable area to aim for with archery equipment, you will have more than just this option for a perfectly placed arrow. The goal of aiming for the head and neck region with your bow is generally to decapitate the bird and there are specific turkey broadheads designed just for this. But if you choose to use a more typical broadhead, a fixed or mechanical broadhead that you might use for deer hunting, you have a couple of other areas to choose from. The wing butt, right where the wing joins the body of the turkey, is a great shot if the bird happens to be broadside. This shot will allow you to break the wing and penetrate the heart and lungs. If the bird is facing away from you, then you can aim for the spine, or if strutting the anal vent. If you connect with this shot, then you will immediately paralyze and kill the bird. If the bird is facing towards you, then you can aim right where the beard connects to the breast. Again, this shot will likely sever the lungs and/or heart leading to a quick humane death.  

Keep these bow hunting turkey tips in mind if you find yourself chasing gobblers with your bow this spring. They may just help you close the deal!


Tips to Guide Your Turkey Bow Practice

Bow Hunting Turkey Practice Tips

Feature: The Virtue TV

The majority of whitetail bow hunters idealize a turkey hunt with a bow. However, the actual number of archers that follow through with this goal is significantly reduced once spring arrives. The lure of toting spurs and a fan over the shoulder is what usually pulls hunters away from the bow. The struggle and challenge that accompanies the satisfaction of harvesting a turkey with a bow usually outweighs the drive to actually achieve the goal. For those hunters that can resist the temptation of the shotgun, there is no greater reward. For those that achieve it, this style of hunting is a learned skill, meaning subsequent hunts will be much easier. If a turkey bow hunt is your dream, there are several turkey bow practice tips that can help make it happen in your first year!

Nock Out Lighted Nocks Pro Staff member TJ Unger of The Virtue TV pursues Indiana longbeards with a bow!

Turkey Bow Hunting Practice Tips

Hunting turkeys with a bow and arrow is a unique style of hunting and it requires dedicated bow practice. As with any type of hunting, this practice refers not only to the repetitive shooting of the bow, but tactics, strategies, and techniques that will be used in the field. Follow these tips to make your practice sessions productive, and to make sure you’re ready to take that turkey when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Shoot From the Ground The most difficult turkey hunt is bow hunting turkeys from the ground…without a blind. This gives the hunter the ability to move and adjust setups during the course of the hunt. It also happens to be one of the most adrenaline filled turkey hunts available to a hunter. However, the one big problem with this tactic is the open movement of drawing the bow back. There is a very small or in most situations no chance of drawing the bow back without being spotted by a turkey. Add multiple toms into the mix of a setup and an alarm putt will sound! The only thing a hunter can do is use little pieces of broken cover and vegetation to hide. Setting up on a tom either in ambush-style hunting or running and gunning means taking a shot from various positions. Learning to shoot from crawling, laying, sitting, and crouched positions on the ground will go a long way toward your success with this tactic. During practice sessions, take time to draw and shoot from positions that are likely to occur in the field. Pay special attention to basic dynamics of the shot such as your anchor and follow through. Also, pay attention to what you cams or limbs might come into contact with once you release the arrow!

  • Shoot While Sitting Ambushing a turkey from a ground blind is a better option if this is your first year attempting a turkey bow hunt. Turkey decoys within range of your blind and the right calling will bring the birds in for a perfect shot opportunity. The blind, specifically optimized for a dark inside, can mask the process of drawing a bow back. However, don’t think of ground blind turkey hunting as a walk in the park. It still requires practice. For the most part, two things interrupt most bow hunters when shooting out of a blind. The first is sitting in a chair instead of standing. Something that can be easy to alleviate with practice. The second is ensuring your arrow will not clip the edge, pole, or fabric of the ground blind. This can easily happen as your position suggests a clear flight from the sight, but the arrow sitting much lower on the riser. The most useful tip is to simply practice the exact blind and hunting setup in practice, decoys and all, to create a productive scenario.
  • Learn to Slow Draw For turkey hunters, the true challenge comes from one unique asset…a turkey’s eyesight. While a blind or makeshift vegetation blind when hunting on the ground can interrupt or mask the draw of the bow, the reality is that turkeys can and will still spot the movement. The technique of slow drawing your bow can be effective at fooling a turkey’s visual defense even at close range and in the open. A slow draw is as simple as it sounds but takes practice to perfect. Try and slow your draw as long as possible, incrementally increasing how many seconds it takes to full draw each day or week before turkey season. Moving very slowly and smoothly can sometimes fool a turkey as he looks away and back again. A turkey will act defensive and quickly leave if he detects a quick movement that he doesn’t like, but a slow smooth action will go unnoticed. Once you’ve got the slow draw action perfected, practice your slow draw from each shooting position you might use in the field.

Photo Credit: Luke Fabian

  • Shoot at a Turkey Target Turkeys are a much smaller target than whitetail hunters are used to. The vitals on a turkey are essentially 3X smaller than a deer’s, a deer’s vitals are roughly the size of a basketball and a turkey’s vitals are roughly softball sized. A pass-through shot on a turkey is not likely to leave much of a blood trail, so putting your shot on target in the vitals is a must. 3-D turkey targets in both fanned and walking positions can really help you develop an eye for where a turkey’s vitals are. Paper or burlap 2-D turkey targets can help you train your eye if a 3-D target is unavailable. Place shots at the turkey’s neck base on facing shots, just above the base of the beard. On broadside shots put the arrow where the wing butt connects to the body, people often feel this is too high of a shot, but this placement will put your broadhead right through a tom’s vitals. Finally, practice shooting a bird that is facing away. Put the arrow right on the anal vent for a lethal shot. Training your eye and your mind to identify the target and the exact location where you need to put the arrow gives you confidence in the field to make the shot count.
  • Put a Lighted Nock to Work Lighted nocks are a valuable tool for bow hunters. The ability to key in on your arrow and watch it all the way to the target can really help in building accuracy and consistency. Hunting with a lighted nock, especially when using crossbows, is invaluable in the bright green spring woods and fields. A bright red or orange nock glowing to the target against the green colors of spring is easy to see. Lighted nocks for turkey hunting are an important tool to help you visualize the hit on a target during practice and the hit on a turkey during the hunt.
  • Use Mouth Calls With both of your hands on the bow, you need to be able to use a mouth call. Grab a diaphragm call now and start practicing. You should be at a level to at least yelp, cut, cluck, kee-kee, and purr. You should also be able to call very softly to coax turkeys in closer into range as every yard counts with a bow.

Photo Credit: Lethal Instincts

Bow Hunting Gear for Turkeys

The bow practice tips for turkeys above should help your efforts of harvesting a turkey with a bow this spring. With practice underway, it’s time to turn your attention the gear you’ll be using. When you head out the door in pursuit of your gobbler with a bow, make sure you’ve got everything you need. This list will be different than your normal shotgun hunting list for turkeys as you have a lot more accessories when it comes to bow hunting.
  • Broadheads Broadheads for turkeys come in a variety of styles. There are several on the market specific to turkey hunting like guillotine style broadheads. However, most broadheads you use for deer hunting can successfully take a turkey with an accurate shot. Regardless of your choice, make sure the broadhead you carry is one that you’ve practiced with numerous times.
  • Bow Holder A bow holder comes in handy regardless of hunting from the ground or a blind. Having the bow in the vertical position (instead of hanging or across your legs), means you can have your bow ready without a lot of movement needed once a shot opportunity is present.
  • Lighted Nocks Lighted nocks, as mentioned above, are a critical part of your arrow system. Using lighted nocks during practice and hunting scenarios give you an edge on accuracy and recovery of your arrow.
  • Archery Release An archer’s release is a pivotal part of their bow hunting setup. The release of the arrow is critical to accuracy and consistency. Turkey hunting is typically done from the ground, and running and gunning to get ahead of hot toms may provide fast action. Be sure you’ve got a way to keep your release attached to your wrist so it doesn’t accidentally get left behind in all the action.
  • Turkey Tag and Hunting License No hunting gear list is complete without your license and game tag. The fastest way to ruin a hunt is to realize you’ve forgotten your tag and your hunt is over.
  • Rangefinder Spring turkeys are at home in hardwoods, creek bottoms, and green fields. Determining distances in open fields can be tricky. A tom strutting is an open hayfield or wheat field can be seen from a long distance. A range finder is critical to making sure you’re within range before you make the move to draw your bow.

Photo: Flatline Whitetails

This gear list isn’t complete by any means, but it does identify some things you need to remember when taking a bow to the field. Here are some other items that you’re a little more used to.
  • Turkey Calls
  • Face Paint or Camo Mask
  • Turkey Decoys
  • Bug Spray
  • Binoculars
  • Camo or Black Clothing (Ground Blind Hunting)

Don’t Ditch the Bow!

Don’t drop into the common pitfall of ditching the bow and settling for the shotgun. With the proper practice, tactics, and gear you should be able to fulfill your goal of a turkey with a bow!
Want more tips, tactics, and bow hunting strategies? Check out the blogs below!

Nock Out® Field Journals Ep.2 | Post-Season Inventory with Flatline Whitetails

Episode 2 Post-Season Inventory

For the second installment of Nock Out® Lighted Nocks Field Journals, we join Nick Kravitz of Flatline Whitetails. In this episode, Nick shows us how he keeps tabs on which bucks survived the year and which have shed their antlers so far. He walks us through a couple trail camera tips as he sets up a quick post-season inventory trail camera survey!

The trail camera tips Nick shares with us include:

  • Use large capacity SD cards (16gb)
  • Use fresh batteries especially in the cold winter months
  • Use photo mode (rather than video) to keep the capacity from filling up and the batteries dying
  • Use deodorizing scent spray or foam to kill scent on the trail camera
  • Clear the camera’s field of view from debris and brush

Stay up to date with more bow hunting tips, tactics, and information from Nick and the other Nock Out® pro staff at the In Action Blog.

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Nock Out® Field Journals | Off-Season Planning with The Virtue’s TJ Unger

Episode 1 Off-Season Planning

For the first installment of Nock Out® Lighted Nocks Field Journals, we join The Virtue’s TJ Unger for a quick entry on some of his off-season planning for the 2018 bow hunting season. Bow hunting tasks never stop, not even in the dead of winter. With snow on the ground, fresh deer sign, and plenty of time until the season opens, the off-season creates the perfect time to scout and plan.

While TJ scouts the property he starts his supplemental feeding program. He explains that the recent temperatures and snowfall have created a need to start a bit earlier than March, his normal supplemental feed start date. This also helps TJ in his post-season inventory efforts. Attracting deer to the feed, a perfect opportunity is present for post-season inventory. This not only confirms which deer survived the season, but which bucks are still shedding. TJ also explains that this is in an effort to keep his number one hit-list buck on the property and away from neighboring properties that receive high hunting pressure.

With this info TJ can plan when to shed hunt, but also has more intel available to reaffirm strategies like bow hunting plots. He mentions plans for a perfect early season bow hunting plot. A 5-acre waterway that feeds from a large crop field into the small 60-acre parcel.

Stay up to date with more bow hunting tips, tactics, and info from TJ and the other Nock Out® pro staff at the In Action Blog.


3 Shed Hunting Observations to Apply to Bow Hunting

Shed Hunting Tips | Apply What You Learn to Bow Hunting

This winter you will get a second chance at your hit-list buck’s antlers. You already know that his antlers will be dropping anywhere from now until March. As a result, you will spend several hours and walk countless miles in search for them. While your shed hunt will be considered a success upon finding just one of his sheds, you might have failed in observing some useful information that you could employ to harvest him next fall. This shed season might be the year to finally ask yourself are you connecting the dots, taking notes, and considering the reason for the deer sign you observe?” This shed season, pay attention and look for these 3 critical observations that could provide useful tips for bow hunting your hit list buck next year.
“What information gathered during shed season could be useful for bow hunting?” If you would answer that question with none or very little”, you might be under the impression that there is a stark difference between the winter/postseason and opening day of bow season. On the other hand, you might agree that there is an abundance of information, and the majority of it would relate to the deer sign that can be observed during the winter. The assumption you’re making here is that there are similarities that connect shed hunting to bow hunting, or rather, similarities in deer patterns and behavior during two different times of the year. So which opinion is correct?

Is Post Season Scouting Information Useful?

Jotting down notes and marking deer sign on your hunting map doesn’t necessarily seem as fun as just scouring the property for sheds. Is wasting valuable shed hunting time worth it? While it always is helpful knowing where deer spend time, where they travel, where they bed, and where they are feeding…what facts demonstrate that this information will prove useful for bow hunting? The answer and these facts are actually staring at you right in the face!

First off, the most notable information you learn upon finding a shed is proof the buck made it through the hunting season. However, this one solid tidbit of information is just the tip of the iceberg. When finding a shed, or any deer sign for that matter, all you need to do is stop and logically think through the reasoning. If you do, you will quickly note that most of the information can relate to bow hunting. For a shed, ask the following.

  • Why is this shed here?
  • Why was the buck spending time here?
  • What about this location makes sense?
  • Where did he come from and where was he going?
  • What aspects of this location will carry over into fall?
These questions should be asked every time you find a shed, or any other deer sign, and your thought process jotted down for review at a later date. While the questions might vary depending on the deer sign found (shed, track, bed, scat, etc..) the end result is the same…you have useful information for next fall. Take for example the process you should use when finding a deer bed:
Deer bed is found:
What about this spot makes it a great bedding area? Is it a great vantage point over where they will travel once dusk hits? Do they have the wind to their back? Is their low pressure? Is there a clean exit route for the bedding area?
Is this a south slope? Is the sun reaching the bed? Does the bed have good side cover blocking the harsh wind, yet still allowing the sun to hit the deer?
Is it one bed, or multiple? What is the size of the bed? This will help distinguish from a buck or doe bed.
Where is the closest food source? Is the bed overlooking a path the deer will take to get to a food source? Is it close to your food plot?
Is the bed overlooking any areas you hunt? Are the deer positioned in a spot they can see you enter/exit your property or stand?
Would this same bed be here during the early or late bow season? Does the bedding area have characteristics that make it a bedding area during bow season?
This information is hard to judge, but thinking each observation out logically is the first takeaway from any deer sign. However, the most valuable thing you can do as a hunter is think through whether or not the information relates to bow season. There is a good chance any observation you make offers insight into both the late season (December-January) and the early season (September-October). The early season, late season, and shed season have 3 things that can connect almost any deer sign to bow hunting. During any time of the year deer still need to bed, travel, and feed!
While bedding areas, food sources, and travel routes may change throughout the deer season, the principle of a deer’s day remains the same…bed, travel, food, and repeat. Logically thinking through any deer sign observation can flag important takeaways that can be applied to bow hunting since these principles are always present during any part of the year.

Feeding Destinations

It’s clear why deer are here, but let’s distinguish one thing for certain…you will be shed hunting only feeding destination fields. Feeding destination fields are plots that have food all year long. You should make sure a destination feeding plot supports deer during the spring, summer, fall, and especially the winter. Besides nutritional benefits, this establishes organization for your observations. Understanding that a food plot is a destination food source from the early season through the late season can be one of the best things you do for your property. It allows you to understand where deer are going (the destination food source), what routes they use to get there (travel routes), and where they are coming from (bedding areas).
Shed hunting a destination food source also reveals the path deer prefer to take into and out of the food source. Are they passing through the edge quickly, staging downwind on a feathered edge, or hitting a smaller end of the plot? Knowing this could help you identify not only where to hang a stand, but where deer might travel in a hunting scenario to catch your wind.

Travel Routes

Destination food sources are often the best areas to start shed hunting because deer are in bedding areas during the majority of the day. This allows you to shed hunt food sources without risk of busting deer. This also allows you to spend time taking notes and plan your next move. Backtracking deer from the food source to bedding areas can be easy during shed season. If your food source is truly a destination food source that has food year round, then a deer’s travel route will also relatively stay the same. The topography or habitat diversity will steer the deer from their bedding area to that food source. Often times these travel routes will be used year round, but its important to understand why they might change.
Travel routes will change as bedding areas, other food sources (acorns, crops, kill plots, etc.), and hunting pressure shifts throughout the year. As you’re shed hunting travel routes ask yourself…why are the deer traveling here? Are they skirting around pressure? Are they taking the path of least resistance? Are they catching the dominant wind or thermals from where you normally hunt? Are they hitting staging areas/staging plots that you have put into place in order to steer their movements? If they change, where would the next likely spot be for a deer to travel?
Making logical sense of worn deer trails this time of year can reveal major travel routes you might have missed during the hunting season.

Bedding Areas

Besides food sources, bedding areas are one of the best spots to find sheds. Deer spend a large part of the day in a bedding area, as a result, sheds can usually be found in or next to a large bed. Bedding areas shift frequently depending on the property. Sunny south facing slopes of thick early successional cover, or native grass/old field habitat will be some of the best winter bedding areas to find sheds. While it can be important to observe why deer bed there, where they come from, and where they head from bedding, it is just as important to understand that these bedding areas will change throughout the year.
Sunny south slope bedding might change to thick and shaded north slope bedding during the summer and early fall. More secluded bedding areas might be selected for during fall as deer escape hunting pressure. Again, question the observation. What about this areas makes it a perfect place for a buck to bed? Where would you set a stand to encounter this buck once he moves from this bed?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you formulate a plan for next year’s bow season.

What About Other Deer Sign?

As you comb food sources, travel routes, and bedding areas in search of sheds you will naturally come across other deer sign. While highly variable (compared to bedding areas, food sources, and travel routes), it’s important to take note of deer sign such as heavy browsing, rubs, and community scrapes. Heavy deer browse could reveal where deer stage just before entering a bedding area or food source. It could tell you that they mill around waiting for the light to fade and thermals to work towards them just before hitting a food source. This could identify where you might want to hang a stand downwind of the nearest travel route around that browsed area. Deer sign like rubs are more variable than browse or scrapes, but they at least reveal some rutting action from bucks in that area. Rubs in thickets in and around food sources or oak flats could reveal hot spots for late October and early November pre-rut hunting. Another great deer sign you could use during the pre-rut would be large community scrapes. Besides being great places to hang a trail camera, scrapes in the right locations can be used to set a buck up for a perfect bow hunting shot. If you locate a community scrape in a food plot, staging area, or travel route that lend itself to a great bow hunting ambush point be sure to take note! It’s not often that you can predict exactly where a deer will stand like you can with a scrape, allowing you to setup an easy 20 yard chip shot with a bow.
Take note of these shed hunting tips. Observing deer sign and areas where you find sheds is extremely useful for next year’s bow hunting. While weather, temperature, deer activity, and hunting pressure may shift during throughout the season, limiting what deer sign is useful. The one constant is that deer still need to sleep, travel, and eat. Take advantage of this during shed season. Scoring intel on a buck’s bedding area, travel route, feeding area, and other habits in addition to his sheds is considered the ultimate shed hunting success!

Understanding Arrow FOC and Applying it to Bow Hunting

Arrow FOC | What is It and Why is it Important?

Bow hunters know and understand arrow speed. Today’s bow manufactures market speed as one of the factors that relate to a better bow. Speed, however, is only one aspect you should be focused on as a bow hunter. More importantly, arrow FOC is a factor that affects arrow flight and penetration, which is critical for any bow hunter.

What is Arrow FOC?

Arrow FOCwhich stands for “front of center”, is the percentage of an arrow’s total weight that is located in the broadhead end of the arrow.

FOC is not as appealing as speed, but it is important when it comes to bow hunting. The more weight towards the broadhead end of the arrow, the more forward an arrow’s center of balance is and the higher its FOC will be.

FOC is a factor that comes down to balance. Arrow balance is important in bow hunting because it affects the shape of the arrow’s trajectory. Trajectory is critical for any bow shots out past 20 yards. The further your shot is, the more arrow trajectory matters. For long-range shots, or if you are using a low poundage bow, trajectory is a big factor.

High FOC arrows will shoot straight but lose trajectory (nose-dive) faster than arrows with less FOC. Shooting a low FOC arrow will gain back trajectory (flat shooting farther) but will be unstable and less accurate in flight. FOC also relates to penetration. Getting your arrow there with speed and trajectory is irrelevant if its penetration qualities are not enough to adequately take down your target. Outlining your potential bow hunting shooting scenarios helps to decide what the right FOC should be for your arrows. The most accurate arrows have a FOC range of 10 to 15% recommend by most arrow manufactures.

Calculating Arrow FOC is Easy

Unlike calculating arrow speed, which requires a chronograph, arrow FOC can be calculated with a few measurements and some simple math. You will need the following tools to calculate your FOC of an arrow; measuring tape, pencil, permanent marker, and calculator.


There are 5 simple steps in calculating arrow FOC.

  1. Choose an arrow that is completely put together, which means all components are attached such as inserts, broadheads, fletching, and lighted nocks.
  2. Use the pencil to balance the arrow on. Once balanced on the pencil, mark the balance point with the permanent marker so you can measure to that point.
  3. Measure from the bottom most point of the nock (the point where string touches nock) to the end of the shaft. This is measurement #1.
  4. Measure from the bottom of the nock to the balance point you marked in step number 2. This is measurement #2.
  5. Finally, calculating arrow FOC is done using the measurements and this formula: [100 X (measurement #2 – (measurement #1 / 2))] / measurement #1


Recommended FOC

The best FOC for hunting arrows ranges between 10-15%. Larger FOC arrows will carry with them more power and penetrate better than those with less FOC. Extreme FOC has rare hunting applications, those higher than 18% may pack a greater punch but become heavy and lose their aerodynamic properties quickly with increasing distance.

Why Arrow FOC Matters to Bow Hunters

Speed is a great thing but it only goes so far when you are a bow hunter. Speed should not be your only focus in the woods. But rather your objective as a bow hunter should be penetration and how well your arrows are set up to harvest game.

Two factors are at play when talking about penetration. The first factor is Kinetic Energy (KE), which is the energy your arrow has from being in motion. Momentum, the second factor, is the energy your arrow maintains as it meets the target. Both factors impact your arrow’s penetration ability. A lightweight arrow with low FOC has high KE but lower momentum at impact. Whereas a heavier arrow with higher FOC may have lower KE but packs more momentum, which penetrates more effectively through flesh and bone. High KE means you have plenty of energy in flight but without adequate momentum, an arrow has little ability to penetrate when meeting resistance. The higher the FOC, the more efficiently an arrow will transfer KE into momentum. Kinetic energy can be calculated by the equation below.


M= total mass of arrow (grains)

V= velocity of arrow (fps)

So how much kinetic energy should you aim for? The table below is a general recommendation of kinetic energy by type of game

There is a tradeoff, however. You have to compromise with FOC and its ability to penetrate. For example, you can setup for extreme FOC to something like 25% with a heavy broadhead. It would pack a heck of a punch, but it would have little KE (fly slower) and have terrible trajectory past 20 yards. The other extreme is to make a super light arrow with a low FOC. The arrow would have fast speed but almost no momentum energy for penetration. Bows today have such speed producing qualities that there is room to manipulate FOC to increase penetration without sacrificing distance and trajectory.

Techniques to Raise or Lower Your Arrow Weight and Arrow FOC

Obtaining preferred arrow weight and FOC and balancing it with speed can be done a number of ways. First, you can add weight to the point end of the arrow. For example, bump up your broadhead to 125 grains if you are shooting 100-grain broadhead. Also, different inserts like the Lock-n-Load® inserts from Nock Out® can help to change the dynamics of FOC. You may be reluctant to change the business end of your arrows so another way to up your arrow FOC is to lighten up the back end of the arrow. If this throws your FOC over the ideal percentage you can add more weight to the back of the arrow by dropping in heavier fletching, heavier nock, or lighted nock.

If you are comfortable with your total arrow weight, you can adjust FOC without adding weight by switching out fletching (style, length, and material) or switching out nocks, shaving weight off of the backend of the arrow and increasing your FOC.

Video – Lock-n-Load® inserts from Nock Out®

In contrast, you can decrease your arrow FOC by reducing your broadhead size or reducing weight to the front end of the arrow. Switching to a lighted nock (adding more weight to the back of the arrow) will add a few grains that can help to achieve your preferred arrow FOC.

Focusing on FOC rather than speed is tough for most bow hunters who have been trained on the premise that faster is better. Speed has its advantages in archery but when the time comes to make that kill shot, arrow FOC is just as important. Understanding FOC, kinetic energy, and building your arrows to maximize its properties makes for a highly stable, bone and muscle splitting arrow that will drop game in its tracks.

Like this article? Make sure you check out the blog on Building Hunting Arrows and Tuning Your Bow with Lighted Nocks!

4 Post Season Scouting Tips for the Serious Bow Hunter

Post Season Scouting Tips for Bow Hunting

Has your season just ended? Then it’s the perfect time to prepare for your next hunt.  Post season scouting starts for any serious bow hunter as soon as the season endsThis is the time of year to roam your hunting landinvestigate new properties, and start developing a productive plan for next season’s bow huntingBelow we highlight four tasks that should be added to everyone’s off season to-do list.

Photo: Alex Charlton, Fresh snow = a fresh #NockOut

1. Discover New Land 

Exploring property should be your number one priority right now.  Whether it be the thickest piece of your own land, or a new piece of public land, there isn’t going to be a better time than now to scope it out.  

Public Land 

For public land hunters, post season scouting allows you to travel new distances, discover new spots, and familiarize yourself with any new rules and regulations.  If there is a piece of land you always wanted to explore, you’ll have all the time you need to do it.  

Why is this important? Because as a public land hunter, you have no control over the land you are hunting on. You have no control over vegetation, hunting pressure, or heard management.  It’s likely that every public land user has seen their favorite spot lost to a fellow sportsman. As defeating as this can be, it doesn’t have to end your season.  Spend your off season exploring new property and creating new opportunities.  

When you do find a piece of property you are interested in, be sure to invest time studying it. Set up your trail cameras, walk through the property, and make note of your favorite landmarks. 

For open country hunting, this is the perfect opportunity to find new glassing points or ask permission for private access property. Often times, owners of private parcels give permission on a first come first serve basis.  

Private Land 

For landowners, this is the perfect time to check those spots that you avoid in the summer.  You know, the ones that are painful to get to and leave you covered in dirt and sweat. There is no better time than now to explore these places.

Photo: Brett Moore “White Gold” Series

Below are three things to consider when creating your offseason scouting plan.  

Scent is Limited 

Little do people know that scent is highly limited in cold environments.  Temperature is dependent on the speed of air molecules. Cold temperatures mean slow molecules. Slow molecules mean a slower interaction with your nose. This limits our sense of smell and the deer’s as well. That’s why immediately following the season closing is a perfect time to tromp through some of those sacred areas.  

Consequences are Low 

If you do walk up on that big buck, you can be relieved to know that it won’t affect next week’s hunt. Why? Because there is no hunt.  You have months before you will need to hit the stand. This means that as long as you don’t make a habit of it, you can count on your deer eventually returning. 

Early Season Bedding Areas May Be Abandoned 

Deer in cold weather climates may abandon their early season bedding areas altogether.  However, that doesn’t mean they won’t return when the weather warms up and vegetation starts to grow. In many areas of the country, deer will herd up, move to a major food source, and avoid their traditional bedding areas. These areas are likely snow packed and away from the major food source. This is just one more reason why checking out these spots should be done now.

Photo: Standing soybean fields are a great winter food source for deer.

2. Use Your Trail Cameras

Don’t put your trail cameras away just because deer season is over.  If you are wondering what happened to that dominant buck you were chasing last fall, this could be the best time to find out.  

In many locations, deer will still hold their antlers for at least another month. By grabbing photos of them now, you can easily account for the deer you passed on and the ones that were possibly shot.  

This is also a great way to monitor the gene pool. By surveying the survivors, you can gauge their antler development during the regrowth period.

Photo: Weston Schrank, Use post season footage and pictures for management of both the herd and the habitat.

3. Look for Sheds 

Many public land hunters are afraid of investing in a camera that could be potentially stolen on public property.  Therefore, instead of photos, these hunters will need to rely on signs. One of the best signs are sheds.  

Finding these sheds have two major benefits.  The first is helping you determine the quality of bucks that made it through this fall’s hunt, and secondly, it helps decipher which trails are popular routes for cold weather patterns.  This can be especially important in cold weather climates where patterns change drastically between each of the seasons.

Photo: Weston Schrank, Determine feeding destinations, bedding areas, late season funnels, and bow hunting stands all while shed hunting this year.

4. Study, Study, Study 

Perhaps the best thing to do in the off season is study.  Study your observation notes from the season, your footage if you film, study your trail cam photos, your property, your stands, and so on. 

Layout any habitat plans or stand movements and get to work.   

Some questions you should think about: 

  • What changed from last season?  
  • What stands were a bust and which were successful?  
  • Which crops will be in rotation?  
  • What habitat projects could improve your property?  

By answering these questions now, you’ll have plenty of time to setup for a successful hunt without disturbing the deer on your property. Remember, human pressure can be one of the biggest factors in bow hunting success.  Eliminate pressure by taking care of your property early in the post season.

 Putting it All Together 

Take this time to reflect on your mistakes from last season. Improve your post season scouting, take more notes, and re-evaluate your setups.  The biggest benefit of post season scouting is taking your time to do things right.   


Tuning Lighted Arrow Nocks | Nock Out® Lighted Nocks 

Nock Out® Lighted Nocks | Tuning and Installing Lighted Nocks

Bow hunters have a responsibility to be as efficient and ethical as possible. This means making sure your equipment is tuned before the hunt. You wouldn’t shoot at a game animal without first making sure your new broadheads hit their mark, right?  The same can be said about installing lighted nocks to any hunting arrow setup. You should never add, subtract, or change anything about your bow, your arrow, or your accessories without first testing and tuning your bow. This is standard and common knowledge when it comes to broadheads, new fletching, a new rest, a new sight, a new release, or a new batch of arrows. This should also be extended to installing lighted nocks.  

Factors to Consider 

The fact is that the installing of a lighted nock means the arrow will fly differently than a standard or manufacturer’s arrow nock. Adding a lighted nock, like any other component of an arrow will not only adjust the weight, but the location and distribution of that weight,  the length of the arrow, and other factors to consider as they cause a difference in arrow flight. 

Arrow Nock Weight  

Regular nocks generally weigh between 8 and 16 grains, while contenders can run up to 25 grains, meaning Nock Out® lighted nocks are double the weight of most traditional nocks. This change in weight will impact your arrow’s front-of-center (FOC), requiring you to adjust your setup to compensate for the difference. Remember, the front-of-center helps determine your arrow’s trajectory.  This is especially important when choosing the proper field tips and broadheads.  In most instances, archers will want a higher front of center (more weight forward).  Most manufacturers often recommend an arrow with 10 – 15% FOC when fully assembled (with broadheads).

Weight isn’t the only factor that changes, as this can also affect your length. 

Arrow Nock Length

Length varies between types, brands, and even within brands. For example, the nock length is 1 5/8 for the original Nock Out® lighted nock, and 1 ½ for the Contenders. This difference changes the weight distribution of the arrow, and subsequently, its flight.


Indexing Your Arrow  

Finally, you’ll need to know how to properly index your arrow. This is one of the last things you should consider that could significantly alter arrow flight. This should remind you that you should never just insert a lighted nock without first indexing the arrow. The index (or cock) vane should be facing up directly in line with your string if you shoot a whisker biscuit, and down if you shoot a drop away rest.  

Knowing these factors ahead of installing a nock should allow you to shoot lighted nocks without sacrificing accuracy! Follow the information and steps below for installing lighted nocks.  

How to Install Lighted Nocks 

The new Nock Out® Contender and Nock Out® Contender 300 for Crossbows are the new leading lighted nock for the archery industry. The driving forces behind the Nock’s excelling features are the simplicity, strength, and functionality of the nock.  

The Nock Out® Contender comes with 3 black bushings, allowing it to fit X, H, and S/GT arrows.  

  • G nocks fit shafts with a .166-inch inside diameter. 
  • X nocks fit shafts with a .204-inch inside diameter. 
  • H nocks fit shafts with a .234-inch inside diameter. 
  • S nocks ‑ also called Super Nocks ‑ fit shafts with a .244-inch inside diameter. 
  • GT nocks fit shafts with a .246-inch inside diameter. 

Steps for Installing Lighted Nocks 

  • First, remove the regular nock from the arrow with a pair of pliers.  
  • Next, fit the right size bushing into the arrow shaft or in the case of X-nocks, the Contender directly into the shaft without the bushing.  
  • Next, you will want to install the Nock Out® Contender and index it so that the arrow vanes are properly aligned to your rest. This is also assuming that your broadhead and vanes are properly indexed. Improper nock indexing could cause improper arrow flight or contact with your arrow rest. This is especially true if you have long and/or helical vanes. The index (or cock) vane should be facing up directly in line with your string if you shoot a whisker biscuit, and down if you shoot a drop away rest.  
  • Once your nock is properly indexed in accordance with your vane, broadhead and rest, you are ready to sight the bow in.  
  • Sight the bow in like normal, adjusting the bow sight housing and pins in accordance with the yardage you wish to reference.

Ensuring your equipment is as accurate as possible is your ethical responsibility as a bow hunter. This includes your responsibility to realize the addition or subtraction of any gear, accessory, or arrow feature can and does alter accuracy.

Want more information? Check out the links below to find out more about Nock Out® lighted nocks or tuning your bow!


In-Depth Bow Tuning | 5 Steps to the Perfect Setup

Bow Tuning Steps

As hunters, it’s our ethical responsibility to make sure our gear is ready, deadly, and going to perform as accurately as possible. This means not only having dependable gear but having a “tuned” setup that we can trust in the field.  Bow tuning should be at the core of our hunting values. 

Most people understand that their gear needs to be tuned occasionally, to ensure that it is functioning at its best. In reality, gear needs to be tuned frequently. Change arrows? Tune it. Change nocks? Tune it. Change broadheads? Tune it. Drop your bow? Tune it. Haven’t shot in a few weeks? Tune it!  

As you can tell, tuning shouldn’t be a one and done deal.  It should be a consistent process that you follow every time you change, damage, or upgrade your equipment. It should be implemented into everyone’s bow hunting routine. That’s why we have put together an in-depth guide detailing exactly what you should be focusing on and why.   If any of your equipment is not up to par, it’s your responsibility as a hunter to buy the right gear, understand it, tune, and test it. Let this article guide you on your way.

Step 1Understand Your Equipment

A properly tuned bow requires you to understand what needs to be adjusted and why. This means knowing your gear and how it will affect your arrow’s flight. Below we go through each piece of equipment, detailing what you should be aware of and how to address it.

Your Bow 

Before you can tune anything, you have to make sure your mainstay piece is ready to go. A few things you should think about: 

  •  Did your string stretch?  
  • Are the cams aligned?  
  • Is your draw length appropriate?  

Strings and cables stretch over time, meaning mistimed cams, out of place peep sites, and too long of draw lengths. Adjustments can be easily made to remedy this.  You can either twist your bow string back down to its original length or adjust your equipment to compensate for the change.


Hunting Arrows 

Shooting the right arrow is a huge factor when trying to be consistent in the field. Too often, people buy the wrong arrow and waste significant time trying to site in their equipment, without ever knowing that their arrow is to blame.  

That’s why we recommend you refer to our Arrow Buying Guide before making any arrow purchases. 

For the purpose of this article, we have summarized the basics below:  

  • Arrow length: In general, shorter arrows are faster; longer arrows are safer.  Finding a happy medium can be done by pulling back your arrow to full draw and having an assistant measure a distance between 1-½” and 2” from the rest.  
  • Arrow stiffness: Higher speed bows generally require a stiffer arrow while slower bows will respond well to a flexible arrow.  Make sure to use the chart from your manufacturer to find the correct arrow for your setup.  
  • Arrow weight: As a general rule of thumb, a heavier arrow will penetrate an animal better, but a shorter arrow will be faster. Make sure you practice with the weight you will plan to kill with.  
  • Type of fletching: Fletching comes in multiple different lengths. However, the blazer vanes have become the standard.  Remember, the vanes and broadheads are dependent on each other. The bigger the vane, the heavier the broadhead can be. 
  • Fletching position: How you align your fletching will influence the way it moves during flight. There are three common alignments: straight, helical, and offset.  The most common is offset, which creates a relatively resilient arrow path (both fast and forgiving).  

As previously mentioned, the best way to tackle your arrows is by referring to our guide.


Step 2: Aligning Your Peep, Rest, and Nocking Point 

The next step is to make sure your arrow will be lined up with the center of the bow.  This means making sure your nocking point and rest are properly aligned, therefore allowing your arrow to be “centered”.  This is often called finding the center shot.   

There are numerous ways you can do this, including measuring your bow, or using a bow square. However, using a simple laser center-shot tool will work well and save you time.  

Here is how to set up a laser center-shot tool: 

  • Simply line up the laser where your site would be and center the laser on the bow string.  
  • When the laser is centered on the bowstring you can lock it in place.  
  • Next, you’ll want to have an arrow mounted on your rest without locking the rest in place.   
  • Once you have an arrow and a rest in place you’ll want to turn the laser on and align it with your arrow shaft. If the laser aligns with the shaft, the rest is in its proper place. If not, adjust it so it is. 
  • Tighten your rest and you are done! Your arrow should be at its true center shot.  

Next, you will want to make sure your peep site is located in a comfortable position. Too often, people find that they are lowering their heads to see through their site.  This is an uncomfortable position that will affect your form and consistency.  

To remedy this, close your eyes and draw your bow back to your anchor position. When you open your eyes, you should be looking through your peep site comfortably. If not, adjust and try again.  You’ll then want to reattach or attach a new site (if applicable). Specific site setups are beyond the scope of this article. However, when attaching any site, remember that a site closer to the riser is easier to keep on target while a site farther from the riser will be more accurate. In addition, make sure your pins are aligned with a nocked arrow and the string. 

If you don’t have the right equipment (such as a bow press, bow square, or laser), don’t be afraid to bring your gear to your local shop. They can help inspect your strings and make any proper adjustments. Knowing that your gear is in good shape will boost your confidence and make the tuning process easier.


Arrow Nocks

Many people forget the significance the nock has on arrow flight. Using the right nock for your setup is important. Therefore, when looking for one, we recommend using our Nock Out Contenders. 

Why go lighted? Not only do lighted nocks reduce the risk of losing your arrows and your game, but they also help with fine tuning your bow. They make arrow flight patterns easy to identify, helping you tune your equipment with ease.   

However, with nontraditional technology comes nontraditional specs.  One of the biggest changes between traditional and lighted nocks is the nock weight.

Regular nocks generally weigh between 8 and 16 grains, while contenders can run up to 25 grains, meaning Nock Out® lighted nocks are double the weight of most traditional nocks. This change in weight will impact your arrow’s front-of-center (FOC), requiring you to adjust your setup to compensate for the difference. Remember, the front-of-center helps determine your arrow’s trajectory.  This is especially important when choosing the proper field tips and broadheads.  In most instances, archers will want a higher front of center (more weight forward).  Most manufacturers often recommend an arrow with 10 – 15% FOC when fully assembled (with broadheads).


Weight isn’t the only factor that changes, as this can also affect your length. Length varies between types, brands, and even within brands. For example, the nock length is 1 5/8th for the original Nock Out® lighted nock, and 1 ½ for the Contenders. This difference changes the weight distribution of the arrow, and subsequently, its flight. 

Finally, you’ll need to know how to properly index your arrow. The index (or cock) vane should be facing up directly in line with your string if you shoot a whisker biscuit, and down if you shoot a drop away rest.  

The Nock Out® Contender comes with 3 black bushings, allowing it to fit X, H, and S/GT arrows.  

  • G nocks fit shafts with a .166-inch inside diameter. 
  • X nocks fit shafts with a .204-inch inside diameter. 
  • H nocks fit shafts with a .234-inch inside diameter. 
  • S nocks  also called Super Nocks  fit shafts with a .244-inch inside diameter. 
  • GT nocks fit shafts with a .246-inch inside diameter. 

Make sure to find the Nock Out that is most suited for your setup.  

Your Broadheads & Field Tips 

Finding the proper broadheads and field tips should come after assembling the rest of your arrow.  This is because your field tip and broadhead weight will depend on what your FOC (front of center) will need to be. This is where the nock weight becomes incredibly important.   

When picking the right broadheads, try to shoot for the 10% to 15% FOC. Why? Because you will have relatively balanced penetration and trajectory. An arrow with too much weight forward will fall too fast, and an arrow with too much weight behind will lose force and accuracy.

Weigh Your Arrow 

After you have properly assembled arrows, you are going to want to weigh and spin them. Remember when we mentioned the different arrow weights, nock weights, and vanes will influence your arrow flight? Weighing your arrows will tell you if each arrow is assembled and flying the same, therefore making your groups more accurate.  

Make sure you weigh and spin test each arrow after assembly and before paper tuning. 

Know your equipment, understand why you have the equipment you do, and then you’ll be ready to fine-tune your setup.

Step 3: Paper Tune

Once your equipment is properly setup, you are going to want to paper tune your gear to iron out any minor issues.   Keep in mind, paper tuning doesn’t work if you don’t know what to adjust.  

Paper tuning should be used as a method of finding any minor problems.  

Below are a few of the basic steps to paper tuning your bow setup.  

  • Find a piece of paper, backstop, and be ready to shoot approximately six to eight feet away from it.  
  • To find out which adjustments need to be made, the arrow needs to shoot all of the way through the paper. Therefore, be sure to set your backstop far enough away.  
  • When shooting, focus on form. Bad form can compromise the entire test.  
  • After shooting, analyze the shape in the paper. A perfect tear means your bow is properly tuned.

Step 4: Sighting In

Once everything is aligned, you’ll finally get to sight in your bow!  If your gear is aligned correctly and paper tuned, sighting in should be a simple process.  

As mentioned previously, sighting in for any particular site is beyond the scope of this article. However, for a general reference, follow the steps below.  

Start by sighting your first pin at your chosen distance (usually 20 yards). You can always take your first few shots within 20 yards if you are worried that your shot will be significantly off.   

If you shoot high, move your pin higher.  If you shoot low move your pin lower. The same goes for left and right. “Follow your arrow” is the general term used when adjusting your site.  

Be sure to site in over the course of days or even weeks. Shooting too much at any given time will result in fatigue and influence the accuracy of your shot.  There will also be days where your form varies, or you simply perform better than others. Therefore, be sure to give yourself enough time to properly sight in before hitting the field.   

Step 5: Stay Consistent 

Your consistency out of the field will affect your consistency on the field. Therefore, checking your equipment, paper tuning, and making regular adjustments are crucial to your success as a bow hunter. It not only improves your bows performance but provides you with confidence when making any shot. Being responsible both on and off the stand is what makes a bow hunter great. 

For more information on archery equipment and hunting tactics, be sure to visit our Nock Out In Action blog.



Lighted Nocks | Legal for Bow Hunting Except One State

Lighted Nocks | Legal Status, Controversy, and the Debate

Feature Photo: John Arman

Lighted nocks were introduced to archers in 2002, but the innovations’ popularity didn’t automatically take off as a bow hunting favorite. There was controversy from the beginning that the addition of this new technological innovation constituted a violation of the Pope and Young Club By-laws of the principle of fair chase. The Pope and Young Club coined a standard ethical term of hunting as “Fair Chase,” as well as bow hunting equipment definitions to meet the fair chase standard. Until 2014, the Club prohibited lighted nocks, but the amended Club’s By-laws read:  

“The term ‘Fair Chase’ shall NOT include the taking of animals under the following conditions: By the use of electronic devices for attracting, locating, or pursuing game or guiding the hunter to such game, or by the use of a bow or arrow to which any electronic device is attached with the exception of lighted nocks and recording devices that cast no light towards the target and do not aid in range finding, sighting or shooting the bow.” 

Why are these by-laws so important? The Pope and Young Club is the registry and recordation of national trophy harvests, therefore the Club’s By-laws govern acceptability of animals into the record books. This fact alone was enough to make many hunters refrain from using lighted nocks when they were prohibited because that once-in-a-lifetime trophy would be disqualified from being recognized in the Club’s record book.

 Photo: Flatline Whitetails

The Controversy and Debate of Lighted Nocks

Traditional archers favor the argument against lighted nocks, weighed on preserving the heritage of traditional archery hunting. For many, traditional bow hunting is an invigorating challenge of pursuing game with basic necessities; of which lighted nocks are often shunned upon. Another reason lighted nocks were not favored by archers is the fact that the earlier designs did not work flawlessly and were often very hard to turn off after being engaged. The earlier designs often added more than 20 grains to the trailing end of arrows affecting its flight out beyond 30 yards. Many bow hunters experienced the nocks illuminating in the quiver when stalking or movement of the quiver. There were also instances of hunters experiencing total failure of the nock illuminating at all after the shot. Advanced technology and design have solved many of the issues that were previously plaguing the interest in lighted nocks. 

Compound bows and crossbows have come a long way over the past two decades, and pin sights, energy storing cams, technical releases, and crossbow scopes have increased the odds for hunters. The argument by proponents of lighted nocks has always been that, before the actual shot, lighted nocks do not provide a favorable condition to archers that would give the archer an unfair advantage. Even with that fact, many states stood by their decision to not legalize the use of lighted nocks for hunting game animals until the controversies were combed over and a debate resolution was on the horizon.

A major breakthrough for the legality of lighted nocks occurred in August of 2014 when the Pope and Young Club amended its by-laws. The “Fair Chase” definition above was amended to include lighted nocks and recording devices and the Club’s definition of bow hunting equipment was amended to read: 

“Section II. Definition of a Hunting Arrow, Subsection B. Exclusions, Item 1. No electronic or battery-powered devices shall be attached to the arrow, with the exception of lighted nocks.” 

Lighted Nock Legal Status By State 

Before 2015, there were five states that prohibited the hunting of game within the state with lighted nocks. Those states were: 

  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • Washington 

In 2014, the Colorado Parks & Wildlife considered a Citizen-Proposed Issue for the “legalization of the use of lighted nocks on arrows and recording devices on bows,” and the proposal was accepted, legalizing the use of lighted nocks in the state of Colorado beginning in 2015. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife followed suit, adopting the 2016 big game hunting regulations that “Archery hunters may use lighted nocks which have no other function other than to increase the visibility of the arrow and help hunters track wounded game.”


Photo Credit:  Steven Badar & Daniel Merrell


This year, Montana and Washington both legalized the use of lighted nocks after several years of the issue being proposed in both states and presented to the state agencies for commission review and consideration. The recent legalization in both these states leaves just one state that has not accepted the use of lighted nocks to hunt game animals; that state is Idaho 

Idaho is the only state that currently does not accept the use of lighted nocks to hunt game animals.


Lighted Nock Advantages 

The advantages of lighted nocks are a huge asset in assisting you as a bow hunter in tuning arrows during practice for precision shooting. It is much easier to notice fish-tailing and porpoising when you can visually see the arrow’s flight. Lighted nocks also assist in determining the placement of your shot on wild game. If there is a pass-through, lighted nocks can assist you in quickly locating the arrow for inspection of body fluids such as blood, bile, or bowel matter; this information is critical to the plan of retrieval of game. Without a full pass-through, the small beacon of light emitted from a lighted nock can truly be a saving grace for retrieving game; particularly in high grass, thick brush, or thickly wooded areas.

With advanced technological innovation and designs, such as that of Nock Out® Lighted Nocks, you can trust that you will have a frustration-free experience using lighted nocks. The high-quality, aircraft aluminum design adds a minimal amount of weight to the trailing end of arrows, and the polycarbonate nock is durable in the toughest of conditions. With a fail-proof performance, archers are sure to favor Nock Out® Lighted Nocks in assisting in the tuning of bow and arrow combinations during practice, and in assisting in planning game retrieval in the field. The advantages of lighted nocks far outweigh any disadvantages, technically and particularly on an ethical level.