Gear Review - Rage Nockturnal Lighted Nocks
This review will focus on Rage Nockturnal lighted arrow nocks. When we first saw these in the stores, we couldn't conceive of a reason to purchase them. They are a simple concept: a nock to replace whatever one you have in your arrow currently, only this one has a light that turns on when the arrow is released. Being a novice archer, we couldn't think of why to try one of these, except as a vanity (seeing your arrow flight is cool). After my first hunt I found out.
The Rage Nockturnals come in either a three-pack or a single pack. You save a bit of money on individual price by buying the three-pack but it's a larger one-time investment. Each size comes in a simple package wrapped in see-through plastic on a cardboard card. There are no surprises because what you see is what you get.
Each nockturnal is assembled already and sealed so there is nothing to put together. You merely have to pop out the nock that is currently installed in your arrow with maybe a bit of twisting, and replace it with the nockturnal lighted one. The Rage Nockturnals come in various different diameters and have a letter rating on them to fit all the popular arrow manufacturers, and work in both aluminum and carbon fiber arrows. As long as you are careful to purchase the right size, it doesn't get any easier than that!
Manufacturers Claim: Easy Installation
In the field:
When the sizing chart works properly, the installation is simple “plug and play” as you would with any other nock. We found that you must be extremely careful to get the proper size in order to have them stay secured as expected. One of our shooters is currently shooting PSE Sniper 2 carbon fiber arrows; using the chart on the back of the packaging to choose his first nockturnal in the "S" size as a result. Unfortunately, the Rage Nockturnals in that size are slightly too small in diameter for my PSE arrows. With a bit of "play" in the nock, I found that at least half the time upon release the nock was still on the string, lit up while the arrow hit the target. Definitely unacceptable. The technician at our local bow shop later informed me that my particular arrows are manufactured by Gold Tip and branded for PSE, meaning he needed the "GT" size instead. When the correct nocks are used, the installation is easy and secure.
Claim: High Visibility Lights
In the field:
Rage Nockturnals come in a selection of colors (blue, green, red, and pink), each of which is extremely bright. Even in broad daylight, during target practice, it’s extremely beneficial to following the flight of your arrows with a Nockturnal attached.
Claim: No Assembly Required
In the field:
The only exception that we noted was that if a user still uses Aluminum arrows, you need to get a separate bushing to properly attach the Nockturnal to your arrows.
Claim: 20+ hour battery life
In the field:
We can attest to the long lasting battery life of the Nockturnals. This fall, we put an arrow through a deer which we believed had taken the arrow with them a long ways and wouldn’t be recovered. While walking through the bushes near where the shot had been taken the next afternoon, we found the arrow, with a still lighted red Nockturnal attached. This would have been at least 20 hours after the initial shot. The brightness had clearly faded, but the LED was going strong.
Cost: $27.99 Suggested Retail (3 pack)
Every time we have seen these for sale at the big box stores and most archery shops, they are available for $24.99. In Canada, however, $27.99 would be considered a “great” price, and we commonly see them in stores for as much as $40.
Real World Thoughts:
The best thing to say about the Rage Nockturnals is that they always work as advertised. In the words of Wayne, “The first season I hunted with my bow was spring bear season of 2013. I had a small video camera, hoping to capture the action and my first archery harvest. I was successful in harvesting a New Brunswick black bear and was even able to capture it on video. But after I got home at the end of the day, I was about to be disappointed. As I watched the video, I couldn't see the arrow fly at all. I could see the bear run off at arrow impact, but not determine where the arrow hit or the path. I immediately went out and purchased my first Nockturnal in a single pack to try it.” The results are impressive.
In target practice the nockturnal didn't seem to make any noticeable difference in the weight or flight of my arrow and we are just as consistent as with the factory installed nock. The nockturnal definitely made the path of the arrow easy to track and easy to see exactly where you have hit on the target.
Another talking point is their consistency. The nockturnal consistently worked as advertised. Upon release, as the arrow comes off the string it was illuminated. In hundreds of shots I have not had a single shot that failed to illuminate the nockturnal. Whether in target shooting or in the field, it consistently illuminated each shot in my experience.
We also find them easy to turn off, with just the point of my hunting knife able to separate the contacts to turn off the light. You do need to use something pointed and skinny like the tip of a knife to turn it off, so that is something to be aware of.
In the woods on a hunt, the Rage Nockturnals also performed exactly as advertised. In the fall of 2013 Wayne again had his video camera with to try to capture his fall New Brunswick whitetail deer hunt, and what a difference! You can watch the flight of the arrow perfectly aided by the red light of the nockturnal we had installed. You can pinpoint exactly where the arrow hit on the whitetail doe. And it helped to determine the direction that the doe had run as we found the lit arrow along the path when tracking (He hadn't gotten full pass through). The performance was identical on another whitetail in the fall of 2014.
We have found that they last a very long time if turned off after each shot, and the first one we purchased still looks just as bright on shots as our more recent ones. We even found one in the woods after a shot the previous day that was still lit up more than 20 hours after the shot, albeit much dimmer. That is impressive battery life!
The Rage Nockturnals are available in a number of colours including red, blue, pink, and green so you can choose one that suits your tastes. We have tested each colour with the exception of pink, and all perform well. Each one looks slightly different in flight, but all are easily tracked. It really is only a matter of preference in choosing which one looks better to you.
There major downfall of the Nockturnal system is that there is no way to change a battery in the Rage Nockturnals, so when they are spent (after a long time) you have to dispose of them. This isn't cost prohibitive but if you are concerned over the environmental impacts of our "disposable" society, this may be a concern for you. Most other competitors on the market that we have found are also the same way, so there is really not much of a solution available right now.
In Fall of 2014, after David’s double lung pass through shot on a New Brunswick Whitetail Doe, his brand new green nockturnal was found in the moss where the Doe was standing, bent and broken at the end of his unharmed arrow. We are unsure of what happened in this case, but this has been an anomaly, as all other shots we have taken have not damaged the lighted nocks in the least, including a couple of “broken arrow” shots. Still, we feel this is something to be aware of.
Until this year, trophy hunters had to be concerned with the lack of acceptance from the Pope and Young club of lighted nocks. Trophies taken with the use of this aid were not accepted. However this year they voted to repeal that ludicrous rule, so there is no more negative preventing their use any longer.
The Bottom Line:
With Nockturnals, Rage produces an item that performs well in practice and in the field, is priced reasonably, and meets all their claims. With proper attention to sizing, both hunters and recreational archers alike will be happy with the consistently excellent Rage Nockturnals.
Should you want to better see your shots for one of the reasons we have discussed or something we haven't thought of, the nockturnal is a great purchase! Whether recording our hunts or not, we will not go into a bow hunt without them again!
Contact us and let us know!