Lighted nocks have become more popular the last few years with advancements in technology that have made them more reliable and an asset if used properly. This review was initially to take a look at three different lighted nocks: CX Lazer Eye, Lumenok Signature and the Firenock G (hunting version). All nocks where ordered from Eagle Archery:
CX Lazer Eye: $8.95
Firenock G: $18.49
After the initial part of the review was posted, Rob at Lancaster Archery was generous enough to donate three other nock types as well as a couple of replacement CX Lazer Eye nocks that failed early in testing. The review will also include the Po’Nock by Hawglite, Tracer by Easton and G-Force by G5.
Tracer: $19.99 per 2
G-Force: $19.99 per 1
Lazer Eye: $8.99 per 1
Lighted Nock Overview, Construction and mechanism:
Lumenok GT Green: The Lumenok consists of the nock, battery pack and two plastic sleeves that encase the battery and put pressure on the shaft to hold the assembly in place. The flat of the nock that contacts the back of the shaft contains two metallic loops that are used to complete the electrical circuit and turn on the LED when both loops contact the arrow shaft. Before the shot the nock must be pulled slightly out of the shaft so that the contacts are not touching the shaft. As the arrow is shot, the force pushes the nock tight against the shaft and engages the connection loops. The Lumenok is the only nock in the test group that is not an indexed nock. While a minor detail, I generally only use indexed nocks so as to not have to constantly look at the fletchings to line nocks up. This test version weighs 30.6 grains and will last up to 40 hours while lit; replacement batteries are available for ~$5.
CX Lazer Eye: The Lazer eye also has two main sections, the nock and the battery pack. The battery pack fits snug into the shaft, while the nock section is more loose and slides in and out of of the end of the shaft a slight amount. This movement is what engages the battery and turns on the LED. As with the Lumenok, the nock must be pulled slightly out of the shaft and disengaged from the battery pack. The shot will push the nock into the shaft and make the connection with the battery pack. These nocks weight 18.5 grains and will last approximately 7 hours.
Firenock: The Firenock is a much more complex nock, involving much more complex technology. Inside the nock and extending past it is a miniature PCBA (printed circuit board assembly). Attached to the back of the PCBA is a battery pack held in place with a titanium wire. During the shot, there are no parts that move. On the PCBA is a motion sensor that activates upon sensing a force of 65Gs or more. To shut the LED off, simply drop the arrow nock down from about 8” onto a hard surface and the motion sensor will deactivate. The target version will auto-shutoff after 12 to 17 seconds. Firenocks weigh 27 grains and will stay lit for 24 hours, or up to 48 hours in one hour burns.
Po’Nock: The Po’Nock by Hawglite has three main parts: a rubber stopper, the battery/LED module and nock itself. Much like the Lazer Eye, the Po’Nock engages by the nock pushing against the LED when the arrow is shot and engaging the battery. This also means that the nock must be pulled a slight amount out of the arrow before the shot. To ensure that the battery is seated at the right depth in the shaft, the rubber stopper must first be glued into place. Once lit the LED stays on and the nock must be pulled out to shut it off. The nock weighs 27 grains and the battery is rated for 24 hours.
Tracer: The Tracer is single-piece construction with no moving parts. At the shot the LED is activated by passing near a magnet that is mounted on the bow using sticky-backed Velcro within one inch of where the nock will pass. To shut the LED of, the nock needs to be passed near a magnet again. The nocks begin in a “rest” state and must be activated before use by placing the nock near a magnet, waiting for a series of LED flashes, then removed quickly and waiting for another series of flashes to indicate the change was successful. For long-term storage the nock can be placed back into “rest”. The nock will light for 10 seconds then begin blinking. Easton rates the battery life for up to 90 hours and the nock weighs 27 grains.
G-Force: Much like the Firenock, the G-Force is constructed of a nock, a PCBA and a battery with the PCBA containing an accelorometer that is activated on the shot. The battery is held in place by a molded plastic piece with fingers that collapse around a groove in the battery. It is by far the longest and heaviest nock in the group, topping out at 38 grains. At the shot the LED lights for five seconds and then begins to blink. To shut the nock off the arrow must be tapped three times on the nock end. Battery life is expect at around 25 hours.
All testing will be done using a Hoyt Ultra Elite XT2000 set at 60 lbs and a draw of 29.5 inches. The test arrows are Victory VForce HV 300 shafts with 85 grain screw in points for a total weight of 304 grains with standard G-nock and unibushing. The arrow also has a five inch wrap and is fletched with three 1.75″ AAE Plastifletch shield cut Max Vanes. Arrow speed is 308 fps resulting in kinetic energy of approximately 65 ft.-lbs. The target is a Morel range block that is about four years old.
Arrow FOC (front of center)
Once concern is that all of these nocks weigh significantly more than a standard nock and will affect the FOC (front of center). The following table shows the calculated FOCs values for all of the nocks along with the control arrow that has a standard uni-bushing and g-nock:
|G-nock Uni||Lumenok||Lazer Eye||Firenock||G-Force||Tracer||Po’nock|
All length measurements were taken in 1/16″ increments and the standardized AMO FOC calculation method used. The Lazer Eye reduced the FOC the least amount being the lightest, but still reduced it over 2%. The G-Force made the biggest difference at almost 6%. Some of the difference could be easily made up with a heavier tip and/or removing the wrap. Heavier hunting arrows with 100+ grain tips would also be less affected by the FOC changes. Nevertheless, it is definitely something to consider when making the decision to use lighted nocks.
The first 50 shots:
The first five rounds went mostly without incident and all nocks performed as advertised. Each nock had to be prepped after each shot to shut off the LED before the next round. Po’nocks were quite problematic to get lined up just right to have the light turned off and the sitting just the right amount out of the shaft to light properly at the shot. Lazer Eyes proved to be the second most troublesome because the nock must be pulled out about 1/16” to disengage the battery. This was a bit tricky to do without pulling the nock out too far, or rotating the nock. The Lumenok also required pulling the nock out slightly, which had a bit of a learning curve to get just right. After a few shots I learned to wiggle the nock back and forth just the right amount to shut it off and have minimal risk of rotating the nock. My favorite was the Firenock as all that had to be done was to drop the arrow nock down on my wooden picnic table as I walked by. This was particularly nice because there is no risk to rotating the nock and the nock stays tight against the shaft for the shot. The G-Force was similar but had to be tapped three times quickly which was a tad more annoying to get right, but also has the advantage of being less likely to be accidentally shut off.
In order for the Tracer to work properly, the magnet must be placed in a satisfactory place on the bow. My Ultra Elite is outfitted with Trophy Taker Spring Steel rest and so my first inclination was to place the magnet just forward of the rest bolt hole. On the first attempted shot with the Tracer, the magnet yanked the point of the arrow right off of the rest and to itself…shot aborted. The second placement attempt was just back of the same bolt hole, with the reasoning being that it would be far enough back not to attract the field point. This worked great and the shot went off without a hitch and the nock lit up as expected. Unfortunately, the two parts of Velcro holding the magnet to the riser had almost separated. I pushed the Velcro back together thinking that I had not secured it well, but the issue repeated itself. For the third shot I moved the magnet to be directly under the lizard tongue and this seemed to work at lighting the LED without the magnet coming off. The Ultra Elite is not a parallel limb bow and thus has more of a forward jump at the shot and this may be causing the issue. To shut the Tracer off it has to be passed near the magnet on the riser (annoying) or another magnet. I ended up putting a magnet on my quiver to use to shut the Tracer off.
Round six brought trouble; the Lazer Eye nock lit up during flight but blanked out once hitting the target. Inspection of the nock showed that the small plastic part between the nock and battery had shattered and the nock would no longer light up. I submitted a inquiry through Carbon Express’s website, but at the time of publishing the review have not heard back.
During the seventh round the Firenock lit up during flight, but shut off upon impact. When I pulled the arrow out of the target, I could immediately hear something rattle inside the arrow. As the arrow hit the target, the battery/PCBA assembly broke free of the nock, traveled up the shaft and slammed into the back of the insert. This demolished the battery pack but left the PCBA intact and apparently unharmed. I sent an e-mail to Dorge Huang (founder of Firenock) and related my story. He called me on my cell phone and explained that this has happened before and he has posted about it in the Archery Talk forums. I had not seen these posts nor did I read the FAQ on the Firenock webpage or I would have seen that with arrows traveling 300+ fps, the Firenock should use an Extreme Battery End Cap to prevent just such an occurrence.
Dorge replaced the broken parts and sent them back with an Extreme Battery End Cap for further testing. After the Extreme Shock Battery End cap was installed by using epoxy and an installation tool, the nock was ready for further testing.
At the sixth shot the Tracer did not light and neither did it on the seventh. I passed the nock over the magnet and it blinked once quickly, just like when it was first activated from the rest state. Somehow the nock had been put back into the rest state. After activating it again, it worked fine for the next several shots.
At about the twentieth round I gave up on trying to turn off the Po’Nocks between shots because it took too much time and monkeying around with the nock to get it right. For the remainder of the shots it was left in the on state.
Round thirty-five once again brought disaster for the Lazer Eye as the very same failure mode as the first time re-occurred. Lazer Eye number three was placed into action.
The G-Force nock failed during round forty-two. It was a failure very similar to the original failure on the Firenock; the battery and small piece holding it in place broke off and wedged themselves about halfway up the shaft.
50 Round Summary:
Firenock is working as intended after installing the Extreme Shock Battery End Cap.
G-Force number one is dead, number two is in action and working.
CX Lazer Eyes have failed catastrophically twice, number three is still working.
Lumenok is working as intended.
Po’Nock is staying lit fine, but has been left on since round twenty due to being very difficult to shut off and line up properly.
Tracer has had some issues with falling back into sleep mode. Once reactivated it has been working fine.
Shots 50 through 100:
At Round sixty the G-Force started getting very touchy about lighting up. It would activate by simply dropping it in the quiver. Five rounds later it died. After pulling it at apart and investigating the cause, I tried replacing the current battery with the battery that had broken off of G-Force number one. This did the trick and the nock started functioning again.
The Tracer went into sleep mode again at round seventy two. Once again using the wake up procedure fixed the nock.
Lumenok, Firenock, Lazer Eye and Po’Nock (still left lit) all functioned fine for the remaining shots.
The shots were fired during various times of day from near noon to dark enough to barely be able to see the target. Also, the weather varied from bright and sunny to cloud cover and even rain that eventually drove me to cover. All of the nocks were bright enough to see in flight and in the target under cloud cover and at dusk. During the brightest times, the Lumenok tended to shine the brightest and was most visible at further distances. As the sun began to set or under heavy cloud cover, the Firenock became the easiest/brightest to see, closely followed by the G-Force. The Lazer Eye was easily the dimmest of the bunch, with the Tracer and Po’Nock somewhere in between. The following images shows all nocks lit up together in near pitch black conditions:
The exposure shows that all nocks are fairly bright, with the Firenock and G-Force tending to stick out more.
Here are a few other images for fun. These are extended exposures of the Lumenok, Firenock and G-Force in flight. These pictures were chosen as the picture itself turned out the best and not on the performance of any nock in particular. Notice the dashed flight of the G-Force. Someone trim that tree! At least it looks like my arrows are flying pretty darn straight.
Lumenok: The Lumenok escaped all of the testing with no ill effects. Activation by having the two small leads connect through the back of the shaft is a nifty design, though some people have reported that their carbon shafts will not conduct the electrical charge well enough to light the LED. (UPDATE: I have been informed by multiple sources that this is usually an issue with the base of the shaft not being square. Ensuring that the base is square should solve most connection issues.) After a few learning shots it was quick and easy to deactivate with a couple of quick wiggles. Otherwise it is a tough, durable nock that got the job done and has a replaceable battery to keep the nock going for a long time.
Lazer Eye: This nock was not impressive in it’s ability to stand up to abuse. It took three nocks to survive all one-hundred shots and the first broke within six shots. Perhaps it will withstand slower bows better, but I would not recommend it for a high-speed bow. The fact the nock must rest a full 1/16th of an inch off of the back of the shaft then hit the shaft on the shot was not my favorite way to activate it. I’m not certain that the nock moving that much in relation to the shaft will affect accuracy, but nonetheless it could be something of a concern. The battery is not replaceable, so once the nock burns out (if it survives that long) it goes into the trash.
Firenock: Once the lesson was learned about high-speed arrows and needing to use the Extreme Shock Battery End Cap, the Firenock performed flawlessly. Although I’m not thrilled about gluing an end cap into the back of my shaft, it makes for a very durable system. Easy to deactivate and not a single failure after the initial issue, along with a very bright nock, make for a good product. It would also be nice to someday play with the many different nock/LED color combinations. The biggest draw back would be the approximately $20 price tag plus $3.33 or so per end cap. However, batteries can be replaced at a reasonable price, making the Firenock a good value over the long run.
G-Force: At a $20 price tag, I would have expected the G-Force to perform up to par with the Firenock. It is impossible not to compare the two because they work on similar (but not exact) mechanisms. Unfortunately for the G-Force, it had multiple issues that caused failures. It would be impossible to recommend the G-Force over the Firenock in the high-price division of lighted nocks.
Tracer: Being the single nock in the test to use magnets, the Tracer stood out in being the only nock that did not need to be physically manipulated in some way to deactivate. The fact that it can be put in sleep mode for long term storage or travel is nice, and with the longest battery of 90 hours it should last a good long while. However, the battery cannot be replaced and there is a definite shelf-life associated with the nocks. Also, the issue with the nock putting itself back into sleep mode made an almost great nock mediocre. The magnet is a nifty way to turn the nock on and off, but at the requirement of having to stick the magnet to the bow riser.
Po’Nock: This is a decent, cheap, durable nock that works well for single shot applications such as hunting, but for repeated shootings was not easy to use. The rubber stopper must also be glued into place for the nock to function properly. Similar to the Lazer Eye and Lumenok, it must be pulled out of the shaft to be shut off (though not nearly as far as the Lazer Eye. While I would not recommend it for repeated shooting in the same session, it has it’s niche as a hunting nock if setup properly.
In my opinion and experience over the course of this review, I would have to recommend the Firenock or the Lumenok. If you don’t mind the up-front price and needing to permanently install the end cap into your shaft (300+ fps arrows only), the Firenock is a great value in the long run. If you are looking for a cheaper nock that can be swapped in and out of arrows easily, and don’t mind pulling the nock slightly out of the shaft for each shot, the Lumenok makes a good choice. Both performed well when used properly, are bright and easy to see, and have replaceable batteries. They both also use entirely different methods of activation that worked consistently throughout the review.
100-200 shot follow-up
Now that the 2009 archery elk hunt is over, I have been able to finish up 50-60 more shots per nock.
Lumenok: The Lumenok continued to perform well, with the exception of two shots that did not light. Close inspection of the shaft showed that two small divots were forming where the electrical leads hit the shaft. I put the shaft in a lathe and squared the end by taking a bare minimum of material off and the nock is performing well again. It has started to dim somewhat but is still quite bright. After a couple of dozen shots and deactivations by wiggling the nock, it is sometimes possible to visibly see that it has turned in the shaft a slight amount and will have to be adjusted. This should only be an issue when continuously shooting the arrow over many continuous shots and shouldn’t be an issue in the field if the nocks are properly located to begin with. The Lumenok still remains a recommended buy after 200+ shots.
Lazer-Eye: At approximately shot 110 the final Lazer-Eye failed in the same manner that it’s two predecessors did. I have read experiences of several other people with this nock and the reviews varied significantly. On bows shooting under 270 fps the nock seems to perform well. As the speed increases, so do failures and the nocks are definitely not recommended over 300 fps as the failure rate is very high.
Firenock: The Firenocks continued to perform well and there was only one shot that did not light up through 200+ shots. I could find no explanation for the nock not lighting up (it was around shot 160) and all following shots worked fine. There is a slight dimming of the over light output but the nock is still well within acceptable brightness for continued shooting. The Extreme Shock Battery End Cap has done it’s job and the nock is still going strong while being shot at over 300 fps. As with the Lumenok, the Firenock still maintains it’s recommended buy status after 200+ shots.
G-Force: The G-force nock that started the extended testing is still a hybrid of parts from both of the original nocks. At approximately shot 120, the nock became very erratic and was shutting on and off at random, often blinking crazily. A few shots later it completely died and no amount of nursing would bring it back to life.
Tracer: At the start of the extended testing the original Tracer nock was still being used, but kept falling back into sleep mode. I traded it out for a second Tracer and the performance was near flawless. Through all of the extended testing the nock failed to light only once and never fell back into sleep mode. Perhaps there was some minor defect in the first of the Tracers that caused the sleep mode issue. Besides the issue of having to mount and use a magnet for each shot, the Tracer impressed me more through the extended testing. However, there still remains the issue that the Tracer does not make use of a replaceable battery and after the batter dies, the entire nock must be replaced.
Po’Nock: Through the extended testing the Po’Nock was once again left in the “on” state because of the issues of turning it off. The nock never did fail, but the light intensity became unacceptable around shot 130. This of course was accelerated because the nock was not being shut off between shots.