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Nocking loops and loop releases.

It started with a buzzing sound--like an angry bumblebee had suddenly landed on my bowstring. Shocked, I looked down in time to see the monofilament serving lifting off the string as everything from the nock set down unwound noisily. Now what? In the middle of a 3-D shoot, it's tough to re-serve your bowstring. I was out. All I could think about was how glad I was that hadn't happened on a hunting trip.


That was nearly 15 years ago, and in the years since, I found better serving options in the durable, tight-gripping synthetics from BCY and Brownell. Though my serving system has become much more sophisticated, one common thread remains: no matter what material I use, or how I overwrap it for protection, I have to re-serve my strings regularly or risk failure.

One good option to prevent center serving slippage and breakage is the string nocking loop. This month, I am going to narrow the options and talk specifically about the most popular loop style, how to tie it and how to select a release aid to go with it.

Advantages of Nocking Loops

No arrow torque: Nocking loops pull the string both above and below the arrow's nock. According to nock loop proponents, such as release maker Jerry Carter, this configuration produces the most consistent arrow flight and eliminates some tuning problems.

Arrow stays on string: Because the string remains vertical through the nocking region (as opposed to forming an angle as it does when the release is attached directly to the string), the nock won't pinch off the string at full draw. This can be a tremendous advantage when a bowhunter has to let down on an animal with the hope of re-drawing when the shot finally presents itself.

Eliminates serving wear: Since the release never contacts the serving when using a loop, the only thing archers ever need to replace is the loop itself, which is much easier than re-serving a string.


Consistent peep sight alignment: Nocking loops hold the string firmly and always come into the same rotation when the bow is drawn. So, they help assure your peep sight consistently lines up with your eye at full draw.

Prevents nock slippage: One of my best rounds of target competition was spoiled four arrows short of the celebration by a brass nock set that slipped up the serving. A nocking loop will prevent this kind of problem, because the loop pulls straight back rather than pushing upward when you draw the bow.


It seems that everything has a tradeoff. For most advocates of the nocking loop, the downside is a relatively inexpensive price to pay. Here are the two biggest knocks against nocking loops.

Lost power: Because the release aid now attaches behind the string instead of on the string, loops require that the archer shorten their bow's draw length (up to an inch) to keep the same anchor point A shorter draw length may even require a different bow, depending on the manufacturer.

Since potential energy increases with draw length, shortening one's draw length also reduces the amount of energy stored by the bow when it's drawn. Less energy storage results in less arrow speed for the same arrow/draw weight.

Hookup problems: Being slow to embrace the nocking loop, I've been nervous about my ability to hook up quickly. Maybe I am just being old-fashioned, but I know several top 3-D shooters who use the loop in competition but attach directly to the string when hunting.


My own conservative nature not-withstanding, there are so many good reasons to use a nocking loop that you should install one if you haven't already. You old-timers may resist, but this is one simple upgrade you can make quickly and easily.

RELATED ARTICLE: Unbalanced Nocking Loop

The unbalanced nocking loop is the best choice for most bowhunters. It applies slight downward pressure on the arrow rest to keep the arrow positively positioned, but not so much it causes a rebound on release. To tie the unbalanced loop, start by attaching a small nock set (or tying on a small nock set about one-quarter inch wide) directly below the arrow when it is nocked in the proper position on the string. I like the arrow to be at a perfect, 90-degree angle to the string or nocked very slightly above that point. After installing the nock set, tie on the loop with one knot below the nock set and the other knot above the arrow's nock.

String Loop Tying: Cut off a piece of loop cord (you can buy it at the local archery shop) so it is approximately 4 1/2 inches long. Using your thumbnail, fray the first quarter-inch on both ends and heat the ends to form a ball. My ideal finished loop cord is four inches long. You may need to do a little experimenting to find what works best for you. Tie a half hitch with each end of the cord around the string at the proper nock point location. The two half hitches should face opposite directions, so they both face away from the nocked arrow, as shown in the illustration. Pull the knots snug and tight to create room for your nock and release head. I tug on a long nail slipped through the loop. The melted balls at the ends of the cord will keep the loop from coming loose.


RELATED ARTICLE: Release Aids for Nock Loops

There are several very good releases designed specifically for use with a nocking loop. Some have a single hook or jaw that captures the loop quickly; others have two jaws. All of them have the common trait of a short distance between the trigger and the jaws. This eliminates the need to reduce your draw length--and the associated power loss--while shooting a string loop. The following is a selection of rests that should work quite nicely for loop shooters:

Scott Archery ( Silverhorn: The Silverhorn's basic design is modeled after Bill Scott's famous OI' Faithful rope release. This is a wrist-strap release, so it will always be ready for action, and the single jaw allows quick hookup. The trigger is almost directly under the jaw, maximizing your draw length with a loop.


Carter ( Rx1 and Rx2: The Rx releases are index-triggered, wrist-strap releases that give you the flexibility to snag the loop with a forehand motion (the Rx2) or backhand motion (the Rx1). Both have Carter's high-quality components and a great, adjustable trigger system. The Rx1 has a slightly shorter jaw than the Rx2, so it will likely permit you to shoot the loop with no change in draw length.

Winn ( Free Flight Loop Hook: This simple and rugged design is attached to a strap-on glove with a palm bar for added power when drawing heavy hunting weight bows. The release features a single, open peg jaw for capturing the string loop quickly and easily. The trigger is close to the jaw so you don't have to change your draw length when using a loop.

T.R.U. Ball ( SabreTooth: The SabreTooth is a T-handle release, which means you trigger it with your thumb. There are independent adjustments for trigger travel and trigger tension, making the release totally customizable.

Tru-Fire ( Bulldog: The Bulldog is an index-triggered, wrist-strap, two-jaw release for which the top jaw is fixed; only the lower jaw moves. The trigger design on the Bulldog offers two positions. You can either use it in the normal position or your can use the forward extender to move it closer to the jaw so you can keep your same draw length when using a loop.

Cobra ( Mamba Fang: The Mamba Fang is an index-triggered, wrist-strap release that allows you to attach the release to the loop using a forehand motion because the "fang," or single hook-shaped jaw, is pointing downward. The distance between the trigger and the jaw is short, permitting you to keep your normal draw length when using a loop.
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Title Annotation:CenterShots
Author:Winke, Bill
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Previous Article:Lightweight pack.
Next Article:Mission Eliminator.

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