Please help me figure out the meaning of "notch your arrows" mentioned here.

I found the lexical meanings of the word notch here, but they don't seem to fit in the given context.

Thank you for your time.

2 Answers 2


In the text you refer to from the book, Druids of the Faerie, the command to the bowmen is for them to take an arrow (presumably from their quivers) and to fit the notch (the cut at the feathered end of the arrow) to the bowstring in readiness to fire.

Modern archery books refer to this as nocking.

According to the book sourced below:

Nocking the arrow is the process of holding the arrow so you can snap the nock onto the bowstring. It also means checking that the arrow's index vanes or fletching are orientated on the bowstring for proper clearance as the arrow passes the riser.

Other articles refer to nocking as actually fitting the notch to the bowstring.

Thus both to nock (and in your text to notch your arrows) means preparing to fire the arrow.


  • You don't "fire" an arrow.
    – James K
    Dec 16, 2019 at 23:35
  • Some people evidently do (admittedly a minority) books.google.com/ngrams/… Dec 16, 2019 at 23:37
  • Sorry meant you shouldn't say fire an arrow. Obviously lots of people do, but the use is considered incorrect by some people. You fire a gun, but you shoot an arrow. I'm just in a nerdy and pedantic mood. Anyway +1 for "nock".
    – James K
    Dec 16, 2019 at 23:43
  • No argument. Been reflecting on the use myself. How about: He was struck by an arrow fired through the open window? Dec 16, 2019 at 23:49
  • @JamesK and RonaldSole, I can't help but ask if both nock and notch (the verb forms) are not common usage. I know their meaning clearly from watching shows - exactly as both of you point out, but I can't find "nock/notch your/their arrows" in Ngram.
    – AIQ
    Dec 16, 2019 at 23:51

It means "to fit an arrow to a bow, by means of the notch cut in the end of the arrow."

Notching your arrow is the first step to shooting it. You notch, then pull back and release to let the arrow fly

When you're sure the glue is completely dry, gently flex the tip and the feathers to test their strength. If they're securely attached and don't budge at all, your arrow's ready to fire! Notch your arrow in your bow, pull the bowstring back, aim, and let your arrow fly! Never shoot your arrow at people or animals - even stone age arrows can seriously hurt someone - after all, they were originally used for hunting.


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