The Pope & Young Club recently approved lighted nocks as part of their fair chase code of hunting. P&Y is one of the oldest and most conservative archery organizations in the world and for them to approve an electronic device says legions. Lighted nocks make practicing more fun, help increase accuracy, and are a tremendous help in hunting situations.
Light it Up
Has practicing with your crossbow become boring? Using a lighted nock will make you think the Star Wars space battles have come to life. This may sound trite, yet watching those arrows group in a target is a great confidence boost. Likewise, when you clearly see an arrow fly left or right, you know that your form needs a tune-up or perhaps that arrow doesn’t match the others in your quiver.
Tightening Your Groups
Shooting bulls-eyes consistently from a bench rest with your favorite TenPoint, Horton, or Wicked Ridge bow is easy. However, how well do you shoot off-hand? Give it some practice – it could become helpful in a tough shooting position down the road. Many times, your ability to shoot without a rest can determine the success or failure of a hunt. Your practice regimen should approximate your hunting style as closely as possible. If you will be hunting from a shooting house, resting your crossbow on sticks is the preferred shooting stance and may be the most practical. However, if you hunt from a tree stand or from a ground blind where deer will approach from unknown directions and may only offer a second or two of opportunity, you will increase your chances by shooting off-hand, just as you have practiced.
Most game animals are active early morning and after sunset, so you should practice at these times accordingly. Lighted nocks will help assure that you don’t lose arrows as well as reinforce your aiming practices. If you hunt from a tree stand, be sure to shoot from a deck or other elevated platform to perfect that downward angle.
I nearly had a panic attack on my first elk hunt before the quest began. I flew into Salt Lake City, retrieved my bow from baggage claim and headed for the Wyoming mountains. Arriving in camp in early afternoon, I wanted to watch a waterhole before dark and hastily set up a camp target to test my zero. I brought eight arrows and six broadheads, what seemed to be ample gear for one good shot.
My first practice arrow flew high and vanished in the mountain litter and debris. I hastily adjusted the scope and the next shot flew so low it also disappeared. Now down to six arrows I moved up to 10 yards and finally got a fix on my arrow strike. I adjusted the scope and used a broadhead on the next shot, but it flew through the target and was lost. At this point, I became so rattled that I adjusted the scope in the wrong direction. Eventually, I went hunting with four arrows and three broadheads. The moral of the story, aside from bringing extra arrows and heads, is that lighted nocks can pay for themselves in “found” arrows. At $10-15 dollars per shaft, lighted arrows soon pay for themselves.
Today’s cell phones have incredible cameras and with a modest attachment you can videotape your hunts and shots. However, unless you use a lighted nock, you won’t see the path of the arrow. I just returned from Africa where I used a scope mounted Tactacam unit with remarkable success. Each time I aimed my scope, I aimed the camera and the Omni-Brite arrows showed up clearly.
A lighted nock and video of your shot can make an important difference. Should you take a shot just before dark, you will be faced with the “trail or not to trail” question. By reviewing the video, you can make better decisions about trailing, perhaps saving an animal from bear or coyotes that you would not have followed.
Huge Hunting Benefit
Lighted nocks have their biggest payoff when hunting. After a shot, the first order of business is to locate the shot location and find the arrow. As you climb down from your stand and see a blood-coated arrow with a glowing nock, you will know exactly where to begin. The lighted nock makes finding the arrow easy and you can quickly determine if you hit or missed. If you hit, examine the arrow carefully noting blood color and any tissue on the shaft.
On non-pass-through shots, you will want to trail the animal as usual. If the arrow breaks or falls out, you can quickly find it. Continue due diligence with the trail with one eye searching for that glowing dot of light. If its stationary, you know to proceed directly toward it. Should it move, you know to allow more time.
Once you begin shooting and hunting with lighted nocks, you will wonder how you ever succeeded without them. That tiny glow at the end of a stick makes you a better hunter and can help you retrieve more game. TenPoint sells their Omni-Brite 2.0 Crossbow Arrows in packs of 3 or 6. These nocks turn of easily and will glow for up to eight hours.