About Those Lighted Nocks

Sponsored by: Dead Down Wind & The Archery Hall of Fame

By: M.R. James

THESE DAYS YOU SEE ‘EM almost everywhere! They’re streaking across TV screens during popular bowhunting programs. They crop up monthly in colorful archery magazine ads. They’re offered for sale by local archery dealers and in the annual megacatalogs from Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. Some arrow companies even offer them already installed and ready to go.

They go by a variety of names like Firenocks, Nockturnals, Tracers and Lumenoks among others. Yep, no doubt about it. Lighted arrow nocks are currently popular, eye-catching add-ons for an increasing number of bowhunters. As one guy I know pretty well summed things up, “They’re neat to watch streaking toward a deer. And there’s no doubt about where your arrow hits.”

Fact is, a major selling point made by lighted nock proponents has been the fact it’s easy to follow an arrow in flight and pinpoint exactly where the fast-flying hunting shaft strikes. Users insist this can help tracking and recovery strategy of arrow-hit game animals. And in case you miss, it’s usually a lot simpler to locate any errant shaft by spotting its glowing nock amid the leaves, weeds, or underbrush. Considering the steep price of today’s broadhead-tipped arrows, it’s only natural that more and more cost-conscious bowhunters tend to search longer and harder for their off-the-mark arrows.

This photo by Firenock shows the effectiveness of being able to see the arrow in flight.

On the other hand, lots of veteran bowbenders bristle at the suggestion of making things “easier” and consider lighted nocks as only the latest of many passing fads which come and go within a matter of a hunting season or two. (Remember string-trackers, Fur-Fletch tracers, pricey arrows with tiny radio transmitters, heat-sensing game finders, etc.?).

So there’s probably a grain or two of truth in the argument from some graybeards with decades of experience that there’s an innate incongruity between the words “archery” and “electronics.”

Whichever side of this hot button issue you choose to support, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

1. Electronic devices on bows and arrows are not universally legal across North America. Always check game laws before hunting with any electronic product.

2. Using anything electronic on a hunting bow or arrow automatically makes any trophy-class animal ineligible for entry in the Pope and Young Club records. No exceptions.

That second point is no big deal to bowhunters who couldn’t care less about record books, official scores, and big game rankings or certificates with their names on it. However, it could be a very big deal for any archer who dreams of tagging a magnificent buck or bull and discovers too late that his animal can’t be entered or officially scored. Why? Because he was shooting lighted nocks and no one had ever told him they weren’t allowed.

The Pope and Young Club’s rules regarding electronics are quite specific:
“Electronic or battery-powered devices shall not be attached to a hunting bow or arrow.”

As an official Pope and Young measurer since 1978, I hear stories each season about happy hunters who had no clue about P&Y’s so-called “electronics rule” until submitting a trophy for scoring. That’s a real shame and a huge disappointment, which is why I take every opportunity I have to help spread the word.

So by all means shoot lighted nocks if you choose and it’s a legal option where you hunt. Just realize that any electronic device attached to your bow or arrow precludes entry of a trophy animal in the record books. Again, there are no exceptions!