Archery is a sport in which safety has to be taken exceptionally seriously. After all, the bow and arrowhead were initially designed as an instrument to kill.

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However, while rules such as avoiding shooting an arrowhead over a ridge or never pointing a loaded bow at one more perkid may seem obvious—dry firing a bow seems rather innocuous.

Yet, this simple action deserve to have drastic aftermath for both you and also your tools.

In this short article, I will take you with specifically what dry firing a bow entails, its aftermath and also the actions you must take if it occurs.

Table Of Contents

Is It Bad to Dry Fire A Bow?What Do You Do If You Dry Fire a Bow?Dry Firing a Compound BowDry Firing a CrossbowDry Firing a Recurve Bow

What Happens When You Dry Fire a Bow?


Dry firing (or sometimes known as “dry loosing”) suggests that the bow string is released after being inserted under tension without an arrow being in location (nocked) or an arrow being wrongly shot.

In many situations, this occurs totally by accident—regularly as an outcome of:

Incorrect nocking of the arrowhead.A damaged or loosed nock due to the arrowhead previously hitting a tough object.Stumbling (for instance in the time of stealth maneuvers when hunting).Involuntary physiological actions—such as sneezing or coughing.Using an arrowhead that is too light for the power of the bow.

However, it have the right to also take place by novices or inquisitive friends releasing the bow on purpose through no arrowhead.

A bow is like a guitar—if you have actually tourists to your residence they’ll be tempted to pick it up and also play through it—despite having actually no idea what they are doing.

Hence, I always recommfinish maintaining your bow amethod from tactile friends and relatives—or if they are insistent on seeing it, explaining initially that it’s a dangerous weapon and have to not be fired.

I frequently make the compariboy to a pistol—they wouldn’t pull the cause on an unloaded handgun in your home—the exact same uses to your bow.

But why is dry firing dangerous? It comes down to a tiny bit of physics.

When we pull back on the bowstring, power is transferred into elastic potential energy.

With a effectively nocked arrow, releasing the bowstring converts potential energy right into kinetic power, propelling the arrow forwards.

The majority of this power equates into the arrow’s trip.

Yet, a tiny amount does remain within the bow mechanism, creating an audible “twang,” vibrations felt through the hand and arm and also leading to the bowstring to oscillate.

However, if the bowstring is released through no arrow or one that is wrongly nocked, this deserve to reason some significant ramifications.

Energy cannot be damaged — it have the right to only change form. Hence, with no arrowhead, the elastic potential energy hregarding go somewhere—and it’s transferred throughout the whole bow mechanism.

Is It Bad to Dry Fire A Bow?


It’s never, ever a good concept. Dry firing your bow (whether on function or by accident) has a tendency to bring about among three outcomes.

1. Nothing Apparently Bad Has Occurred

At first sight, this appears to be the ideal result—your bow is still in one item and also you have escaped without any injury. But, this deserve to be deceiving and also it’s no time for complacency—the bow still demands to be checked for damages.

2. Complete Destruction

This is the worst instance scenario. Upon dry firing your bow, the totality apparatus explodes—cogs, screws, splinters, and string all flying through the air. T

he shooting place needs the bow to be located close to your face and eyes—making this event exceptionally dangerous.

3. Your String Breaks

A snapping string whipping about your eyes is to be avoided at all expenses. If you have actually controlled to escape the possibility of a blinding injury, the broken bowstring shouldn’t be considered the just worry.

With the energy being effective sufficient to break the string, the possibilities are that various other, less visible, damages to the bow itself may have arisen. Aobtain, time to inspect the whole bow.

Here’s a quick video showing dry firing breaking the bowstring.

What Do You Do If You Dry Fire a Bow?

Should this occur, tright here are 2 main procedures to take, to ensure both you and also your bow are safe.

1. Be Calm and also Look After Yourself First

Bows are expensive pieces of equipment—but your first priority is your own well being. Don’t panic. If you are still holding your bow, lay it gently down and also take some deep breaths to calm yourself.

Then check yourself for signs of injury—don’t immediately assume that as you have no pain you are fine. Shock have the right to frequently block out pain signals to the brain—so provide yourself a thounstable examicountry.

Most importantly, obtain a friend or club colleague to examine your eyes—tiny splinters from the bow can come to be wedged and cause irreversible damage if not removed.

2. Methodically Check Your Bow


If the damages is severe, the chances are you will not fail to check out that the bow has experienced. However, it may not be instantly apparent.

Shooting a damaged bow is most likely to both rise the severity of its destruction and also raise the risk to yourself.

First, perdevelop an as a whole visual inspection. Pay particular attention to the limbs, in search of splinters or cracks. A approach supplied by many type of archers is to gently stroke the bow with a cotton wool ball.

The fine hairs will snag on any kind of hard-to-watch splinters.

Second, examine the major components for integrity.

If it’s a compound bow, pay certain attention to the cams and pulleys—specifically wright here they are secured to the bow via holes or slots, which are the weakest points.

When you are satisfied, nock an arrow and draw the bowstring. Listen for any inexplicable noises, vibrations and simply see if it “feels” normal. Ideally, take your bow to a professional archery save for a proper examicountry.

Dry Firing a Compound Bow


Although you should never before dry fire any kind of bow—committing this sin on a compound bow is the the majority of dangerous and also damaging.

As they are designed to generate an significant amount of force via their plenty of cams and also pulleys—the energy released during a dry fire is dramatic.

Not just can it effectively damage the bow, but additionally, the many type of movable small components are most likely to fly off—boosting the chance of injury.

How to Tell If a Compound Bow Has Been Dry Fired

If you are sharing devices, have lent your bow to a frifinish, or are looking at purchasing a second-hand bow, there are indications to check for to see if it has actually been dry fired. Examine for:

Limb cracks and also splinters.Creaks and also groans as the bow is attracted.Bent cams.Splitting bowstring—particularly near the finish servings.

Dry Firing a Crossbow


While many kind of modern crossbows are significantly being fitted with anti-dry-firing mechanisms, there are still many kind of that are not.

As this design is normally the bow of option for the hunter, they are frequently purposely dry fired even more than the compound or recurve forms.

This is because as soon as the arrowhead has actually been nocked and also the bowstring drawn—any kind of noise which startles the taracquire animal may make the shot difficult and therefore the draw redundant.

In these scenarios, the arrow is frequently rerelocated and the bow dry fired.

It’s a lot safer to risk damaging an arrowhead by releasing it right into the ground than removing it completely and dry firing.

How to Tell If a Crossbow Has Been Dry Fired

Check for:

Cracks in the compowebsite laminate of the bow.Bent camshafts.Fraying or fuzzy strings.Indentations wbelow the cams have actually formerly been released and also cramelted into the limbs.

Dry Firing a Recurve Bow


As recurve bows generally hold much less potential energy than compound and crossbow types, and also have actually fewer operational components, the opportunity of damaging or being injured by a dry fire is less most likely.

Yet, this is still no factor to intentionally release the bowstring without an arrowhead.

Recurves in many kind of situations still deserve to produce over 50 foot-pounds of energy—effective enough to damages your equipment or inflict injury on yourself.

How to Tell If a Recurve Bow Has Been Dry Fired

Look out for:

Delamicountry of the limbs—especially at the curve tips.Cracks in the riser.Damaged limb string nocks or slots.Fraying string loops.


Dry firing a bow is the biggest sin in archery—bring about possibly expensive damages to your tools and also significant injury.

As the majority of dry fires are accidental—take procedures to mitigate the chance of their incident.

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Ensure your arrow nocks are tight and without any type of flegislations, usage arrows that are the correct weight for your bow, and also concentprice totally on eexceptionally draw.