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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. 

Tracking a Deer Blood Trail 101

Bow Hunting 101 | Deer Blood Trail Tracking

If you’ve shot a deer before while bow hunting, you’re probably familiar with the general sequence of events. Going from shot to recovery can take mere minutes or days, depending on several factors. It’s always a possibility that we could lose sight of a deer blood trail, which is guaranteed to result in sleepless nights. Here are some tips for blood trailing deer so you can improve your recovery rates and become a better hunter! 

Stages of Tracking a Deer   

Hopefully, for your sake, you are reading this blog before you make the shot. Ensuring that you know and follow each step of the blood trail tracking process is extremely important. With that said, this blog will take you through each step of the deer blood trail tracking method from directly after the shot, to the point where you recover your deer.  

Replay the Shot 

The moments directly after you release an arrow are some of the most critical seconds of a hunt that can influence the end result.  Assess the shot and replay it in your mind several times. After that, you should be able to answer each of these questions:

  • Which way was the deer facing? 
  • Was there any quartering that could have affected what organs were hit?  
  • How did the deer react when the arrow made contact?  
  • Is there a noticeable landmark (dead snag tree, spruce tree, etc.) in the area you shot it?  
  • Which direction did the deer run? 
  • What is the last landmark you remember the deer running by?  
  • Did you hear a crash?  

Burn these details into your mind before you even think about packing up to start blood trailing deer. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 15 minutes while you replay everything unless you watched the deer drop within view. 

Many times, you can learn the most useful information by watching how the deer reacted and where your lighted nock disappeared. One of the benefits of using lighted nocks is that you can pinpoint exactly where the arrow strikes a deer. Regardless of which color nock you prefer, you can literally watch the LED light trail from the Nock Out Contender nocks and see precisely where it blinks out as it enters a deer’s chest cavity. Pay attention to how the deer behaves at this stage. If it jumps into the air and kicks its hind legs (oftentimes almost losing its footing), it’s very likely a heart, lung, or liver shot. If it hunches up its back and runs for a short distance before slowing down and walking away, you may have shot them in the paunch area in another place considered “no man’s land”. 

Stage 2: Look for Evidence 

After replaying all of these details in your mind, climb down and navigate to the landmark where you believe you shot the deer. This is where many hunters go wrong with tracking deer. Many hunters mistakenly just take up the trail immediately. Even if there is obvious blood, this action can ruin your recovery efforts quickly in the wrong situation. You’ll obviously be looking for blood, but also pay attention to hair, disturbed leaves, and broken branches. Lots of white hair means either your shot was low on the stomach or it exited the deer low.

Looking at the arrow

Hunting arrows can tell you a lot too. Examine the blood on it and give it a sniff. You may even have an indicator section or white wrap that can clearly show the blood. We’ll look at the blood types below for different shots, but if it smells rotten, it’s likely you made a paunch hit. 

Stage 3: Deciding on the Type of Deer Blood  

Knowing when to track deer after shooting is very important. Now for the real investigative part of the deer recovery process: the blood. Deer blood sign will be different depending on where you hit them. Look for this kind of blood evidence in the immediate vicinity of the shot location before proceeding with blood trailing deer.

Heart/Lungs

Blood from a heart and/or lung shot will be very distinctive. It will usually be bright red and frothy (lots of small bubbles) because blood in these organs is full of oxygen. Depending on the entry and exit wounds, you may also notice spurts of blood on the ground and even on the tree trunks and shrubs periodically, as the heart pumps it out. 

Liver 

Whitetail livers are tucked behind the lungs and higher up from the heart. Blood from these shots will usually be darker red or purplish, and may be thicker in consistency. It also may only drip from the deer after a while, producing a harder blood trail to follow. 

Paunch (Stomach/Intestines)

The dreaded paunch or gut shot is something no hunter wants to make, but it does occasionally happen for a number of reasons. Blood from these hits will usually be thin and watery-looking, and may even contain green/yellow bits of undigested food in it. The blood will also smell foul, like stomach contents ought to.

Stage 4: Blood Trailing Deer 

Knowing how to track a wounded deer is a critical skill you need to have. Depending on what you find at the arrow site, you’ll have a few different choices to make. Obviously, the sooner you recover your deer, the fresher and safer the venison meat will be. You may also be contending with coyotes and other hungry scavengers who would happily steal your kill. So knowing how long to wait and ultimately how far a deer will travel will help you know when you can start tracking a deer.

Tracking Heart/Lung Hit Deer 

Unsurprisingly, the heart and lungs are vital organs, so a deer shot in either of them won’t last long or travel far. If you find frothy bright red blood at the shot site (and assuming you waited at least 15 minutes before getting down), you should be able to take up the trail immediately. It’s unlikely for a heart/lung-shot deer to travel more than 100 yards unless you only clipped one lung.  

Tracking Liver Hit Deer 

While a liver shot is always fatal, it will take longer for a deer to expire. If you find the thicker, dark red blood, wait at least four hours if possible before you start tracking. Liver shot deer will usually bed down within 200 yards to rest. If unpressured, they will usually bleed out and expire in these first beds. But if you rush in, you may jump the bedded deer. Since they may only produce droplets for a blood trail, every further inch you push them makes your tracking job much harder. 

Tracking Paunch or Stomach Hit Deer 

A paunch shot is usually also a death sentence for a deer, but it could take days to happen. The blood trail may also be sparse enough for you to lose the trail before you find the deer itself. If you notice a foul smell on your arrow or thin watery blood, quietly back out of the area. If there is no rain forecasted and if it’s a cool night, you can leave a deer overnight to track it in the morning. If it’s going to be hot in the early season, rainy, or you’ve got lots of predators on the property, try to give it at least four hours before blood trailing. Similar to the liver discussion, you don’t want to jump them from their beds. A gut-shot deer can run for miles before expiring, which could potentially push them off your property. 

Stage 5. Employing Helpful Blood Trailing Tips and Tactics 

Slow Down! – When blood trailing deer, you need to move slowly and pay attention to everything simultaneously. You’ll need to move three to five times slower than normal so you can scan the ground and trees for blood and glance ahead to look for the deer. Stop often to listen and scan ahead with binoculars.  

Walk to the Side – As you walk along, make sure you don’t destroy the blood trail by walking on it – walk to the side of the trail. When you lose track of the blood, leave signs at the last spot you saw it. You can use flagging tape, toilet paper, or even your Nock Out lighted nocks! Start by walking in small circles around the last spot, and you’ll usually find where the blood trail picks up again. If you can’t find more blood, as mentioned above, pay attention to upturned leaves, rushed deer tracks, and broken branches, as this indicates a deer moving through the area at a fast pace.  

Keep One Nocked – Keep your bow nocked with another arrow in the off-chance you can make a follow-up shot, if needed. This is harder for archery than it would be with a firearm, but sometimes you might spot a bedded deer and get a shot before it bolts again.

Hopefully, you’ll have an opportunity this fall to put these blood tracking tips to good use. If you haven’t already check out the NEW Contender Lighted Nocks from Nock Out®.

 

Nock Out® Pro Staff Stories | Willi Schmidt’s Montana Elk Hunt

Lighted Nocks and Elk Hunting

 

By: Willi Schmidt of Pure Hunting

 

The State of Montana followed suit with many other states last year in changing some hunting regulations. This change finally allowed the use of lighted nocks this year!  Knowing this new change, I installed my green Nock Out® lighted nocks for my upcoming Montana elk hunt!  Little did I know how valuable this tool would be on the hunt!

On day 3 of the hunt, we heard a bugle with about 20 minutes of light left in the evening and after a quick second bugle and then silence, I decided to make a move a few hundred yards to see if I could encounter the bull.  As I picked up my pack, I looked up and saw him coming into my cow calls.  He was hesitant and hung up about 80 yards away and began to rake a tree.  The light was fading fast and I made my move, knowing the bull was pre-occupied with his trashing of the Russian Olive.  I quickly got to 40 yards, but couldn’t get any closer because of having to cross a swampy creek. After deciding this I ranged him, settled my pin, and released my arrow.

 

 

 

The glow of the Nock Out showed that the impact was a touch higher than I wanted, but I knew it was still high lung.  It was such low light that had I not had lighted nocks, I would have had to guess the spot of impact.  This information was valuable for me because of the high shot, combined with the bull running off full-steam, allowed me to not get too nervous and uncomfortable with the poor blood trail.

 

 

 

We did follow blood and tracked him for about 250 yards only to back out to resume the tracking the following morning.  When we lost blood once the bull crossed the creek, I still was confident that the bull was dead, however, we had to search a little harder.  Two grueling hours later, I found my biggest bull to date!

 

The Nock Out lighted nock gave me the information I needed in fading light to know where the impact was, not get too discouraged with the lack of blood, and the confidence that we would recover the bull.

 

 

 

Enjoy the full story of my elk hunt by clicking the link below!

 

 

 

About Pure Hunting: Pure Hunting puts you completely in the moment with the most hardcore hunters on the planet. Join extreme hunting host Will Schmidt and his best friends as they set out across the country and around the globe in a quest to discover and conquer the world’s last, best and purest hunting adventures.

Considerations for Building Your Hunting Arrows

Hunting Arrow Considerations

Much like customizing your favorite truck or ATV, your archery hunting equipment can often be changed to fit your personal style and needs. There are many different facets of your archery equipment that you can tailor to fit your personal needs such as the draw length of your bow, your bow release and your bow sight set up.  One critical piece of the equipment that lends itself to customizing is your hunting arrow.  Customizing your hunting arrows to fit your specific draw length and purposes can not only increase your consistency and accuracy, but it can also ensure that you are getting the most kinetic energy out of your set up.

Although they may look simple, your hunting arrows are little more complex than you might think.  Understanding how each part of the arrow functions can help you begin to understand how you might be able to adjust your specific set up to better fit your needs.

The Weight and Length of Your Arrow

Since the days of aluminum arrows, the white-tailed deer hunting industry and the archery equipment industry have tried to help balance the weight to kinetic energy ratio.  The heavier the arrow, the more energy or “punch” it can deliver…if you can get it travel fast enough. Today’s modern archery equipment, with the addition of carbon arrows, have balanced this ratio. You now have the ability to send a larger arrow down range, with the speed and intensity needed to deliver plenty of impact at the target.  That said, it is important that you know what length of arrow fits you and your bow the best.  Once you have determined the appropriate length, you can begin to customize your arrows by style and weight.

Arrow weight is more critical than most archers realize in terms of optimal shooting performance. Ultra-lightweight arrows, such as those used by competition archers, will typically travel in a straighter line and group more tightly. There are lightweight hunting arrows designed for hunting that have similar characteristics. Heavier arrows will deliver more kinetic energy for better hide and flesh penetration on game animals while still retaining a good grouping.

The arrow weight for hunting is recommended for a total weight of 6 to 8 grain per pound of draw weight. It is important to never use an arrow with less than 5 grain per pound of draw weight with any bow; doing so could cause damage to the bow and cause injury to the archer, similar to that of dry-firing a bow.

Fletching

Whether you prefer to shoot a traditional style of fletching or a “blazer” style of fletching, the way in which your arrow is fletched can determine both how your arrow flies downrange as well as a spine that your arrow may have.  Each can impact your accuracy and consistency when it comes to shot placement.

Inserts and Broadheads

Your arrow inserts and knocks are likely one of the most underappreciated pieces of your set up, and although they may be undervalued, they can make some difference when comes to how your arrow flies down range and the energy it can deliver.  The type of insert you use can often dictate the style and type of broadhead that will fit your bow.  The weight of the insert will compound with the weight of the broadhead (regardless if you shoot fixed blade or expandable), all of which should be taken into consideration while customizing your hunting arrow.

Your Arrow’s Nock

The next area that can be subject to customization is your arrow nock. While normally dismissed, your arrow nock is the point in which the arrow makes contact with the bow (besides the bow rest). A nock that is too tight or too loose can affect the accuracy of the arrow. Ensuring the proper seating in the arrow shaft and the proper fit of the nock will result in better arrow flight. This is also where archers get a chance to upgrade their hunting arrows. Installing a lighted nock from Nock Out® lighted nocks allows you to not only shoot a lighted nock while hunting, but actively practice without wasting battery life. This allows you to ensure your hunting arrows are hitting their mark with the lighted nocks attached!

When adding any lighted nock, or anything different to your arrow always make sure you tune your bow again. Lighted nocks with differing weight and length can always affect accuracy, just like a new broadhead, learn how to tune lighted nocks here.

Don’t overlook the opportunity to customize your hunting arrows.  They are truly where the rubber meets the road, and taking the time to give these few factors some attention can truly help to increase your success rate this fall.

Crossbow Nocks 101 | Types and Considerations for Lighted Crossbow Nocks

Which Lighted Crossbow Nocks to Use

 

Are you a new crossbow hunter just starting out and looking to learn more about it? Maybe you’ve shot crossbows for years but never stopped to think about the various types of crossbow nocks available to you. Regardless of where you stand, you could probably learn more about the best use of each kind, especially as it relates to lighted crossbow nocks. Below, we’ll discuss why you should use them, how to actually install the nocks, and most importantly, how to operate them.

 

 

 

First, Why Lighted Crossbow Nocks?

 

Just like bow hunting with a regular compound bow, there are several benefits of using Nock Out® lighted nocks instead of regular crossbow nocks. First, it allows you to see your bolt’s flight path with great visibility, which can help you pinpoint where you hit the animal. This is obviously very useful when hunting in low light situations (which are typically some of the best hunting times). It can be a vital feature when hunting predators (like black bears in the video below) so you are aware of when to safely take up the chase. Seeing your arrow’s flight path in low light when shooting a black bear is really hard, as you can imagine, and following a wounded bear (in the case of a poor shot) in the dark is a bad idea. However, when you can follow the laser-like light trail of your nock, you know exactly where you hit it and can decide how to proceed accordingly.

 

Also, you can easily find your bolt (made even easier in the dark) when the illuminated nocks are glowing. The red, green, or yellow lighted crossbow nocks from Clean-Shot® Archery really stand out, though you should think about which color is best for when and where you plan to hunt. While it’s nice on your wallet to recover your bolts, broadheads, and nocks from the field, finding your bolt can also tell you more about the shot you made. You can look at the color of the blood and smell the bolt to identify if you hit lungs, liver, or paunch. If you never find your bolt, you leave that all to chance. Check out the amazing bear hunting footage below using the best lighted crossbow nock around.

 

 

Types of Crossbow Nocks and Best Uses of Each

 

There are a few different kinds of crossbow nocks that you can use on crossbow bolts. Be sure to check with your crossbow manufacturer first to see which crossbow nocks are recommended for your model. Most normal crossbow nocks are made from plastic or aluminum. The Nock Out® lighted crossbow nocks from Clean Shot® Archery are made of high impact, polycarbonate material so that the super-bright LED lights are very visible, while still being able to handle high-speed modern crossbows that shoot faster than 350 feet per second (fps). If you were to use normal plastic nocks, these high-speed crossbows can sometimes exert too much pressure and distort or crack the material. While there are also capture nocks and hybrid nocks for crossbows, there are two crossbow nock types offered below by Nock Out®.

 

Flat Nocks

Flat nocks for crossbows are pretty much exactly like you would imagine. They consist of a flat disc that covers the back end of your arrow/bolt shaft. It is a very basic design that allows the bolt to sit in slightly different alignments without compromising the accuracy of the shot or the structural integrity of the crossbow. The only theoretical risk in using flat nocks is that the string could potentially slip off the end of the nock and you could dry-fire it. But since this risk is extremely minimal (non-existent if you’re careful), flat nocks are one of the most popular designs that have stood the test of time. The flat nock green 3-pack is a great deal for bargain shoppers too.

 

 

Half-Moon Nocks

Half-moon crossbow nocks are different from flat nocks in that they have a horizontal groove in them. This groove allows the string to nestle into the lighted crossbow nocks and keep it from moving up or down. For this style of nock to work correctly, you need to mount the half-moon nock so that one of the vanes is directly up or down and the nock groove is horizontal in this position. The orange contender 3-pack (or any of the other colors) will stay indexed to the arrow vanes to shoot consistently.

 

 

How to Install and Use Lighted Crossbow Nocks

 

It’s very easy to install these lighted nocks for crossbow bolts, just like it is for the regular compound bow arrows. Each pack comes with three different sized nock adapter bushings to fit the three most common carbon bolts: small (.285), medium (.297), or large (.300). This practical universal fit makes your life much easier since you don’t have to guess at it or buy multiple types to find the right fit. Simply insert the correct-sized bushing into the shaft, and then press the nock receiver into the bushing. Follow the installation instructions that come with your pack to ensure it is correctly indexed with the vanes. Then you’re ready to roll!

 

It really couldn’t be easier to use your lighted crossbow nocks. Simply rotate the on/off tab on the activation collar 45 degrees into the Ready to Fire mode. When the bolt is fired in this mode, the sudden pressure from the string will turn the LED lights on. Nock Out® lighted nocks for crossbows come in red and green colors for both types, and yellow only for the half-moon nock. To turn it back off after you retrieve your bolt, simply pull the nock straight back until the light turns off again.

 

 

When you’re just practicing, you usually don’t want the LED lights turning on every time as it will waste the battery life. To solve this problem, you can turn the collar 45 degrees and switch the nock into practice mode so the LED lights won’t be activated anymore. If you want to just test it out before a hunt to make sure it works, switch it back to the ready to fire mode and keep it there for your hunt.

 

If you’re interested in trying some light up nocks for crossbows this season, pick up a pack of whatever color you like and give them a try. Their ease of installation and use make it a no-brainer!

 

bow hunting hunting arrows

Fletching the Perfect Hunting Arrow for your Bow Hunting Setup

Bow Hunting | Fletching the Perfect Hunting Arrow

There are several components that make up a hunting arrow, but none more critical to its flight than proper fletching. Vanes on the back of an arrow steer the arrow during flight, keeping the front and back end in correct alignment. Mass-produced and fletched arrows are not always tuned properly and are subsequently the reason for inconsistent shooting. Accurately tuned and fletched arrows can greatly improve your shooting performance. Believe it or not, you don’t have to take your arrows to a pro-shop to achieve this!

Chances are, you have experienced the result of shooting an ill-tuned arrow. Arrows that aren’t properly tuned can cause the vanes to graze the arrow rest, which in turn causes the arrow to fly erratically down range. Another likely scenario could play out like this: you have worked hard on form, you are consistently nocking at the same point, and executing a smooth release, but have a couple shots outside your group each time you shoot. Rather than an error on your part, the reason for this inconsistent shooting may be a couple bad arrows out of your practice batch. Properly tuning and fletching your hunting arrows takes a little extra effort, but will result in consistently tighter groups on target and better accuracy in the field.

Fletching Applications

There are three fletching application styles popular with hunting arrows:

  • Straight fletching is applied straight with the arrow shaft. This type of fletching results in the fastest arrow flight and is recommended for close range shots. Straight fletching can cause slight arrow drag and is at a higher risk of the flight being affected by the wind.
  • Off-Set fletching is applied straight with the arrows’ shaft, but are turned at a slight offset from front to back without twisting the vane. The off-set is comparable to the rotation of a bullet shot from a rifled gun barrel. This rotation offers arrow stability with the weight of a broadhead and is recommended for long distance shots. Off-set fletching will result in a slight loss of speed due to air resistance.
  • Helical fletching is applied with a slight curve or helical twist in the vane, often two to five degrees, depending on the arrow stability desired. Helical fletching offers the most stability among other applications and is ideal for shooting broadheads. The rotation of the fletching will decrease arrow speed at a greater amount than the other style fletching but offers great accuracy at longer distances.

Vane Styles 

The style of vane that you apply to your arrow shaft can affect arrow flight and should be taken into careful consideration. There are pros and cons to each style of vanes, but tuning and matching your hunting arrow vanes to your style of broadhead can greatly improve your shooting consistency and accuracy. A variety of vanes are available in different shapes, lengths, thicknesses, and colors.

Vane types vary, from small, long, and low profile vanes to short, high profile vanes. Higher profile vanes have more surface area and will offer more correction of arrow flight than low profile vanes. However, more surface area will slow an arrow down slightly. If you are shooting fixed broadheads, a higher, larger surface vane will offer the greatest stability for that style broadhead.

Smaller, low profile vanes offer less flight stability of an arrow but offer more clearance with the arrow rest and bow shelf. Lower profile vanes have less surface area allowing minimum wind drag for more speed.  Low profile vanes offer more stability of arrow flight with mechanical broadheads, blunts, or field points.

The “original” Nock Out® lighted nock.

Vane Adhesion

Secure adhesion of the vane to the shaft is critical to the proper flight of an arrow. Not all adhesives are the same. Taking into consideration the typical weather you plan to hunt in will give you some guidance as to which type to use. There are quick-set glues, thicker gel type glues, and glues that are similar to epoxy. Solvent based adhesives will take longer to bond and dry but offer a durable adhesion that can withstand varying degrees of weather and temperatures. Cyanoacrylate glues are fast setting, however, the brittleness of the glue is more susceptible to the vane breaking free of the shaft in different weather conditions.

Hunting Arrow Nocks

Nocks will often need to be removed to use some styles of fletching jigs. It is important to use the correct nock for your arrow diameter and the style of nock that works best with your bow string. Press-fit nocks will be labeled by common size, for example: G and F nocks fit shafts with a .166-inch inside diameter, X and A nocks fit shafts with a .204-inch inside diameter, H and H.E.  nocks fit shafts with a .234-inch inside diameter, S nocks fit shafts with a .244-inch inside diameter, and G nocks fit shafts with a .246-inch inside diameter. Smaller pin nocks are snapped onto a small pin on the nock end of an arrow. This allows for damaged nocks to be replaced with minimal effort in the field. The pin nock is mostly used in target competition because its purpose is to protect shafts from being damaged by other arrows.

Lighted nocks are favored by many hunters and are legal to use in most states, with the exception of a few out west. Not only do lighted nocks help you tune your bow before the hunt, they also make it easier for you to see your bow shot placement on game animals. Gone are the days of frustrating lighted nocks that came off in your quiver, were difficult to turn off, or added extra weight to the back end of the arrow. Nock Out Lighted Nocks are lightweight, extremely bright, and feature an easy off and practice mode. Each pack of Nock Out Lighted Nocks come with bushings to fit the five most common carbon arrow diameters for a custom fit.

 

The Fletching Process

The supplies you will need to self-fletch your arrows:

  • Fletching Jig
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Lint-free Rags/Paper Towels
  • Vane stripper
  • Fine grit sandpaper or scrub pad
  • Bare arrow shafts
  • Vane adhesive
  • Fletching
  • Nock Tool
  • Wraps (optional)

Fletching your Hunting Arrows

  1. Spine tuning arrow shafts is one step many archers don’t complete when self-fletching their arrows. Spine tuning helps you to find the weighted side of an arrow, allowing you to adhere the vanes in the same way on all of your arrows, making for a more consistent grouping. A small variance in shaft weight is common and normally does not make a significant change in the point of impact on the target. Matching the configuration of vanes on each shaft, identical to the other, will greatly improve consistency.

Using the float method is the easiest way to do this from home. Fill a bathtub up with about 6 inches of water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent to make a few suds for buoyancy. Place a bare shaft in the tub, making sure that the point and nock ends are not touching the side of the tub. Spin the arrow with your hand once, allowing it to stop. Then spin one more time and mark the top side of the floating arrow with a grease pencil or marker. This will be the light side of the arrow; you will place your cock vane on the opposite side of this mark.

  1. Prepare your arrow shaft by wiping the entire shaft down with a lint-free cloth saturated in denatured alcohol. One of the main reasons vanes do not adhere to the surface properly and pop off easily is because the shaft and vane surfaces were not clean at the time of application. Denatured alcohol is fast drying, however, you should still make sure the shaft is completely dry by wiping the shaft down with a dry, lint-free cloth. Never use a cloth that was washed with water softeners or dried in a dryer with anti-static/fabric softener dryer sheets.
  2. With the broadhead you will use in mind, select your ideal style of fletching in your preferred colors for your shafts and place them aside in groups of three. Make sure not to get body oils from your fingers on the adhesive edge.
  3. Your next step will be the actual fletching application.
  • Load the vanes into the fletching jig that you have chosen, making certain that you don’t touch the portion of the vanes that you will add glue to.
  • Place a thin, solid line of adhesive known as a bead along the base of the vane from end to end.
  • Place the shaft into the jig as instructed by the jig’s manufacturer, keeping in mind the correct tuning of the cock vane; in alignment with the heaviest side of the shaft.
  • Close the jig, placing the vanes against the shaft. It is important that you be patient and wait for the proper set time for the adhesive you are using before opening the jig.
  • Once the adhesive sets, carefully release the jig revealing the newly fletched arrow. Clean off any excess glue. Add a droplet of glue on the leading and trailing end of each vane for a strong, secure adhesion to the shaft.
  • Always wait several hours before shooting freshly fletched arrows.

Ultimately, choosing the style of vane and the application of those vanes will vary among archers. Some archers are more concerned with higher accuracy than faster speed because while speed may matter in the equation of kinetic energy, it is not as forgiving as accuracy. Deciding on what is good for your bow hunting setup will depend on what you are trying to achieve. By fletching your hunting arrows, you have the opportunity to experiment with different style vanes and fletching applications, giving you the advantage of having the best hunting arrow for your bow hunting setup.