Its sound from a bow fired dry is evident. It’s loud, frightening, and attracts the attention of all in the vicinity. While firing a bow dry is embarrassing, that isn’t the main worry. The act of firing your bow dry can be hazardous for you, for those around you as well as your bow.

What do you do if you accidentally dry firing a bow?

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The most effective thing to do when you dry fire an archery bow is to bring it to an archery professional shop to have it examined. If this isn’t an option, then you must inspect the bow carefully for damage as well as fractures, splintering, and cracks.

To understand the reason why it’s important to inspect your bow following an accident dry fire, it is important to be aware of what can occur to a bow an accident to dry fire it and why you must consider it a serious matter.

Read on to find out the effects of a dry fire on your bow, and what to do following the fire has gone out.

How dry firing can damage your Bow

Dry fires occur when a bow fires without an arrow is nocked. When you release the bowstring, it snaps in the direction of forwarding movement but there’s no bow arrow to absorb the impact of the snap.

Dry firing is rarely carried out for a reason, as most archers don’t wish to put their bows at risk by firing them dry However, dry firing accidents can occur to archers of any level of skill. Unfortunate events can occur to anyone, isn’t it? It’s just an issue of time to some degree.

Dry fires may occur when you don’t correctly nock your archer, if the nock has become loose or damaged or if your fingers get caught on the string. Although not technically dry fires when you use a bow that is too heavy for the bow, the result is the same as dry fire.

Dry firing may also occur if you’re brand new to archery but don’t have enough about it to be able to prevent it, or if you let the bow’s handling to someone else who isn’t knowledgeable about the basics of archery.

Dry Firing

When you pull in the bowstring again, energy gets created and stored within the bow. When you let the bowstring go the force is transferred into the arrow, which sends it flying towards the goal.



If you fire your bow dry the energy will not be capable of transferring to the arrow since there isn’t an arrow however, the energy will require a place to go. Therefore the energy is transferred back to the bow and creates powerful resonances across the bow.

These vibrations could cause severe destruction to any part of the bow.

A bow that is not properly constructed is more likely to be damaged by dry fire, however, this doesn’t mean that a bow made well won’t be damaged.

More often than not the quality of the bow will determine the degree of damage that a bow sustains from dry fire.

The greater that the weight on the bow is, and the greater the vibrations are, and the more likely they are for damage.

Compound bows are particularly prone to be damaged in dry fires because they’re extremely powerful and can store a lot of energy before the shot is fired.

Additionally, because compound bows are more complex than most bows, and have so many moving pieces, they tend to suffer more damage than a typical bow or a recurve.

Other bows like traditional and recurve bows could be damaged when you dry fire them although it occurs less frequently.

Any damage that occurs to a bow requires repair before using it. If you are using an unrepaired bow you are very likely it will fall off.

A bow shouldn’t ever be fired dry.

It’s irrelevant if your bow can withstand it. Dry firing places unnecessary stress on the bow. This will, over the long term, is not good for your bow. If you’re concerned regarding your bow don’t make it a habit to do this.

What could happen?

A bow that is dry-fired is going to suffer damage. If you’re lucky, dry firing a bow, will not cause any harm however, it can cause the bow to break. There’s no way to know what might take place, and hopefully, you’ll never need to learn.

Dry firing could be the cause of one or more of the following undesirable things:

  • Bent cams
  • Warped cam tracks
  • Broken or derailed bowstring
  • A limb is splintered
  • Broken cable guard

Every part of your bow may be damaged if your bow fires dry and usually, it affects more than one component. When it is at its worst the bow could appear to explode. The limbs will split and fly away and the string will break and you’ll be terrified to death.

The most commonly reported damage is a broken bowstring broken limbs, splintered limbs, and bent cams. However, dry fires can damage any component of your bow.

Broken bows are not the only thing that could occur when you dry fire bows. Dry firing bows can be dangerous.

It is important to keep in mind that when you shoot the bow, it’s near to your face and your body. The pieces that fall from the bow could hit you in the face and knock you down or cut your face or even get in your eyes.

The flying pieces can leave the bow with such force that anyone who’s in your vicinity would be at risk.

A few videos of dry Fires

Below is an illustration of a devastating dry fire, which clearly illustrates the reason why firing dries your bow is not a good idea. Fortunately, the parts of the bow went away from the person firing the bow and nobody was injured. (Also what is the reason he’s shooting in his yard?)

The following video shows how unpredictably the damage caused by dry fires could be. A piece of the bow flies back towards the archer at high speed and the bowstring is snagged.

The video also illustrates that dry fires caused by accidents occur to all of us. This video shows archer professional Tim Gillingham, who has been practicing archery for over 30 years, accidentally ignites an archery bow in the live footage.

What should you do after Dry Fires?

I hope that you’ve now understood the consequences of dry firing bows well enough to stop playing with them anytime soon.

When you dry fire bows, the first thing to do is ensure that you and everyone who is around you did not be hurt, and then be grateful to the stars for your luck if you did not.

After that, you must examine the bow to be sure that it’s not damaged. A quick visual inspection can determine if there’s any visible damage. Most of the time it will appear extremely evident.

When the issue is obvious then the next step is equally unambiguous. You’ll need to get it repaired. Even if the damage doesn’t seem to be severe, have it fixed before you attempt to draw it again.

Bows are put under immense stress that even a tiny amount of damage can cause the bow to break further, or even shatter on your face.

If your bow doesn’t display any obvious indications of damage, nevertheless take it to an archery professional shop and have it examined.

A few damage areas are difficult to detect due to their location or simply too small to see. Keep in mind that your bow has been subjected to many strains. Small structural damages can happen which isn’t immediately evident, but the damage could still compromise the bow’s structural strength.

If the bow is in good shape however there is damage that is not visible next time you draw, or within a short time, the bow may be likely to break or crack.

You can inspect the bow by yourself, however, a professional archery shop will be able to provide the bow a more comprehensive inspection than you would at home, particularly when you don’t have an archery press.

Make sure you take the bow to the Professional

If you decide to dry fire it, then the most secure method of doing so is to take it to an archery shop and have the bow checked with an experienced professional. If you do not have an expert’s expertise in examining the bow for damage you might not notice the things that an expert who has performed the task hundreds of times.

Do not be afraid to let the person helping you in the shop for archery that you have dry fire your bow. This is vital information that can assist them in determining what type of damage they can observe when inspecting your bow.

You’re not the only customer to walk into their shop and find an unfinished bow that was damaged by dry-firing. After they have assessed the damage they suffered and they’ll likely find out that you fired it dry and you didn’t tell them. The fact that you have told them about it will aid in their assessment and make it more precise.

Dry firing is a common thing. If you’ve been practicing archery for long enough, it’s likely to happen to you at some point.

An experienced archery shop will go further than just inspect the bow. They will carefully inspect every aspect of the bow that may be damaged. They will employ the bow press to dismantle the bow apart so that they are sure that every part remains in good working order.

As a plus If you’ve always wanted to restring your bow or make any other adjustments to it, this is the perfect moment to make it happen.

The bow should be taken to an expert archery shop for a check that can also provide peace of assurance. You don’t have to be worried about the bow blowing up on your face due to concealed damage. It’s worth the effort.

Examine the bow Yourself

If you can’t transport the bow to an expert archery shop, you’ll have to examine the bow on your own. This isn’t the best option but if there is the option of no other, you’ll have to make do.

To check the bow, you’ll require good lighting and a magnifying glass, and an unbleached cotton ball.

In the case of a compound bow, there will be more to check and the damage can be more difficult to identify in some instances.

  1. Take the bow into a place with adequate lighting so that you can observe what’s happening using the bow.
  2. With a magnifying glass take a close look at the limbs to find any indications of damage. If you apply a cotton ball on the limbs, small pieces made of cotton could get caught where there is damage.
  3. If the limbs have been damaged, you’ll have to be extremely careful to loosen the limbs to let go of the bowstring. The string is exerting stress on the limbs and can cause more injury if you do not perform this. If you’re not at ease doing this, you’ll need to bring it into an archery shop immediately.
  4. Examine the bowstring for any fraying or tears. If the bowstring has been damaged, you must put the bow in an automatic bow press immediately. If the string is snapped and the bow is damaged, it could be worse damaged.
  5. Examine every part of your bow, including those on the risers and cams cables, cable guards, stabilizers, string vibration arrestor, and the sight. Examine for cracks, cracks or splinters, fraying or wobbling bows, misalignment, or looseness.
  6. If all seems fine then draw the bow to ensure there aren’t any odd sounds or vibrations.
  7. If you see any indications of damage to the bow, not even just the smallest indication of damage or a strange sensation when you pull the bow, then you be required to have it checked out and repaired.
  8. If everything is in order Test archers to ensure that the bow is in tune and everything is in place. The impact of the dry fire may have thrown your sight off its course.
  9. If your bow shoots like normal and your aim isn’t to be off it’s likely to be in good shape. If your arrows aren’t firing as they should or aren’t shooting in the direction you want them to (and they typically shoot in that direction) you’ll need to tune your bow or alter your scope.

Dry Fire and your Bow’s Guarantee

When you do accidentally dry the bow and your bow gets damaged then it’s not the fault of the manufacturer because it wasn’t caused by a defect within the bow. The damage was due to improper use of the bow.

Damages caused by dry fire are not covered by the warranty.

The majority of manufacturers state in their warranties that they do not provide coverage for the damage caused by dry fire.

Even Hoyt affirms that all its bows can withstand 1500 dry fires, says explicitly on its website that they don’t repair damage caused by dry fires.

However, some claim that their bow’s damage was completely covered under the warranty on their bow. If you take your bow to a dealer or a professional archery store, and you follow the warranty process you may be amazed.

How to Prevent Dry Bows and Firing

Dry fires that happen accidentally are common to a certain degree, however, there are steps that you may take to stop dry fires. Utilize these suggestions to keep dry fires from happening accidentally.

If you’re a novice to archery, master how to properly nock the arrow, then release it. Learn from those who are skilled and gain knowledge from them.

Don’t allow anyone to handle your bow unless they are knowledgeable enough about archery that they shouldn’t dry ignite your bow. If they aren’t knowledgeable about archery, or sometimes even when they do, you should explain to them how crucial it is to not dry fire bows.

Make sure to check your arrows regularly to make sure the nocks aren’t broken or loose. This can happen at times when your arrow strikes something hard. It’s most likely to happen when you are hunting, but checking your arrows before making use of them is a good idea.

Use bows that are too heavy on the bow you are using. Every bow will indicate the arrow weights which will work to it within the manual of instruction. Also, you can consult the local archery shop to get recommendations on what arrows to utilize.

Do not draw your bow with an archer not nocked. If the arrow isn’t nocked and you let the bowstring go it will launch the shot. If you’re making a bow using an arrow that is nocked, be sure that you’re drawing it safely.

Do not build shoulder strength using your bow. It is possible to build shoulder strength through regular practice however, if you’re not in the range, don’t draw the bow.

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