Is it Worth it to Use Lighted Nocks and are they Legal?

Lighted nocks are small, electronic additions to your arrow tail. They are usually LED- or battery-powered, and they could make a big difference in your archery game if you’re shooting in low-visibility conditions or at night. They illuminate the arrow’s flight path so you can better assess your shot.

At outdoor 3-D ranges, wind and other factors can have an impact on your shot. Distance, weather, and evening hours can make it hard to track your arrow. Bright, lighted nocks help you keep track of your shot so you can find arrows later and adjust your form as needed. 

Lighted nocks attach right to the tail-end of the arrow and have a small groove for the string to rest as you draw back. Most of these will automatically activate as soon as you release the arrow from the string. Generally, they are no heavier than other nocks or wings, and they won’t affect your aim or accuracy. Their main purpose is to track the path of your arrow, but still, they are banned in a few areas and some archery clubs. 

In most cases, though, you’ll be able to use lighted nocks. But before you go out of your way to obtain some, consider if they are right for you.

By the way, if you reside in California or Colorado, you'll find these articles helpful:  Archery Ranges in California and archery ranges in Colorado!

The Debate Over Using Lighted Nocks

Most of the controversy over lighted nocks surrounds their use within the hunting community. 

Responsible hunters and archers must understand the concept of “Fair Chase.” Technology has provided human hunters with an unfair advantage over their game, which can have catastrophic consequences on the environment and animal populations. In order to reduce the risk posed by modern advancements, Fair Chase laws in many areas restrict the use of electronic additions to your bow. 

However, lighted nocks are usually an exception. They don’t enhance your shot or give you a tracking advantage over game. Using lighted nocks for archery practice is generally acceptable as well, because their purpose is to see, assess, and alter your shot for better accuracy.

Still, some enthusiasts prefer to keep things fundamental, hoping to preserve the ancient style. Some archery clubs prohibit these types of nocks because they consider them to be an unfair, unnecessary technological advantage. It’s similar to radar instruments being banned in some fishing areas. While lighted nocks don’t impact your shot, they make it easier to gauge your arrow path for more successful shots in the future. 

Idaho is the only state that currently has bans on using lighted nocks, so in most areas, they are permitted without regulations. You should always check with the range or area where you plan to shoot to make sure they are acceptable. 

When to Use a Lighted Nock

If you’re practicing short-distance shots or using an indoor facility, there’s really no need to use lighted nocks. Visibility will already be clear, and you’ll get a good look at the flight path without a light on the tail of the arrow. In fact, using a lighted nock indoors may not be allowed in some places because it could pose a distraction to other archers. 

If you are shooting long-distance, outdoors, at night, in low visibility, or to hunt, you might want to consider using these types of nocks. They will help you follow the arrows during flight and make them much easier to find and recover later. 

Lighted nocks come in a variety of colors, so be sure to pick one that stands out to you and against the surrounding landscape. Colors like white or yellow may be harder to see during daylight, so red, blue, and green are the most popular colors for lighted nocks. 

Conclusion

Like many bow and arrow accessories, there’s a time and place to use lighted nocks, and sometimes they may be unnecessary. As you become more familiar with the sport, you’ll start to realize when nocks are helpful and when they aren’t. They are generally easy and quick to install on the tail of the arrow. 

We recommend investing in a few lighted nocks if you want to practice outside and not be held back by weather or visibility. They are definitely worth it if they increase your opportunities to practice.