How To Avoid Dry firing Your Bow: Prevention Tips and Tricks

Dryfire bow


While ordinary people think to lead their life with ‘live, love and laugh’ motto, there are archers on the other hand that live with a ‘raise aim and shoot’ motto.


If anyone tells you don’t ‘dry fire’ cause it’s harmful, you would probably like ‘what?’. But it’s not gunfire that they are talking about. It’s the release of the bowstring without the arrow attached to it. Yes, that’s also known as dry fire. 


But why is it so harmful, and why should you not do dry fire bow? Hmm.. that’s what people who’ve damaged their bows should have known! Yes, dry firing a bow can immediately damage your bow and put people, including the archer, at risk. 

Whatever the type, dry firing can damage each type of bow; more commonly, it damages the compound and crossbow. As a compound bow is made of different parts attached together, the energy released from the string spreads over the different parts and destroys limbs, cams, string, even riser.


Why do you never dry fire a bow?


In this piece, we will have a close look at what is dry firing its cons and why you should avoid it. 




What is DryFire bow? 


Just like you can pull the trigger without a bullet that doesn’t make any sense, dry fire in archery is also kind of similar. The term dry fire basically means when you pull the bowstring and release it like a regular archer but this time, without an arrow attached to it. 


Now, when you pull the string, it gets removed the way it should be, but the string doesn’t find any arrow nocked to it during the release. So the moment you release the string, it puts an enormous vibration across the bow, and the dry fire is executed. 


How Does a Dry Fire Occur? 


The problem is that dry fire is not natural, or nobody does it on purpose. Like, who would want to damage their bow, right? But in most cases, it’s done by accident. Either you fail to nock the arrow accurately to your string or simply slip off the string before releasing the arrow.


In some rare cases, especially for the newbie, people may try to check the strength of the string or simply play with the bow. In that case, dry fire is something familiar. But regardless of the reason and method, dry fire is always damaging to your bow and can make it permanently unusable. 


why does dry firing damage a bow


A little bit of knowledge on energy science is needed to fully understand what goes on when you dry fire. When you pull the bowstring towards you, holding the bow frame in one hand of yours, energy is stored in the bow immediately. 


Now, when an arrow is attached to the string, this energy is released to the arrow, and it shoots itself to the target place, converting the kinetic energy into speed. 



When you don’t have an arrow attached, the kinetic energy will now have no specific destination. It can’t be transferred to an arrow as there isn’t any. So, where does it go? It simply gets transferred to the bow body. 


The total energy is shifted across the bow frame, and it creates a heavy vibration. The entire bow feels the vibration and reacts accordingly. This vibration can be fatal in many senses. Now, if you are using a poorly-made bow, it’s no wonder that it will be immediately damaged due to this unprecedented wave of vibration. 


why is dry firing dangerous

That no way indicates that you are safe from the damage if you are using a high-quality bow. In this case, the strength of the bow is more important than the quality. So the more robust the bow, the safer it is from the catastrophe of dry fire. 


The more weight you put on the string, the more bow damage it will face. Pulling more will put more weight on the string, hence on the bow. 


why is it bad to dry fire a compound bow

Compound bows are more prone to damage than any regular ones. As compound bows come with multiple moving parts attached together when you have a compound bow dry fired, it is more likely to respond violently towards the vibration. Plus, it stores more energy than other bows, creating more significant damage. So dry firing a compound bow is more severe than any other case. But regardless of bow type, never try dry fire archery.  


But regardless of bow type, never try dry fire archery. 


what happens when you dry fire a bow


Okay, no one is saying that if you dry fire, you are done. No, it’s not one hundred percent guaranteed that dry fire bow damage is evident. But the thing is, it does have at least a ninety percent chance of injury. So, the following scary things can happen to your bow if you decide to intentionally or accidentally dry fire. 


The cams can get bent.

The cam tracks may get warped. 

The bowstring will get broken, torn, or derailed. 

Limbs can get splintered. 

The cable guard can break. 


It’s not that only one damage will be done per dry fire. It’s possible that a single dry fire can cause considerable damages from the above list. The list excludes the physician damage you may experience. Splinters from a broken bow can even hurt you, and the accident can be severe in some instances. 


What To Do When You Have Dry Fired? 


Okay, no matter what the reason is, you have bow dry fired. So, it’s the end of the world, right? No! The first thing you need to do is stop getting scared. This is just an accident, and you need to stay calm and act patient. Here are some quick steps you need to follow. 


  • Check If Anyone’s Hurt


Immediately after you have fired a dry fire, don’t look at the bow at first. Look at your surroundings and check if anybody is hurt. If there are people around you, look at them and see if they have been shot with any kind of splinter. If they seem to be cool and okay, the first step to safety is crossed. 


If you find anybody hurt or shot, take immediate action to treat them seriously and take care of the matter. 


  • Check The Bow (how to check bow after dry fire)


So, now that no one is hurt, it’s time to look at the bow. Is it okay? Is there any visible damage that you can notice? That’s the question. Look very carefully if there’s any damage done in any way. Check the frame, parts, and strings for any type of bend or crack. 


Now, sometimes, the damage may not be entirely visible. Or it may be relatively tiny and seem negligible. Whatever the case is, even if the damage is insignificant or invisible, you should not take any chance. This is because of two reasons. 


One, some damage may be internal but not visible. This means the damage may be apparent as soon as you use the bow for a second round the next time. Or the bow will show the symptoms of the actual damage weeks later, too. 


Second, some damage done in tiny parts may not be quite obvious, as well. If you are not an expert on how the bow is formed or made, you won’t be able to tell if the tiniest parts are damaged or not. 


So, no matter what the situation is, damaged or apparently not damaged, you need to see an expert mechanic who has experience in repairing bow and arrow. 



  • If No Experts Found – Try Yourself  (how to fix a dry fired bow)


So, unless you are an expert in bow and arrow construction, it’s safer and better to hand it over to the experts. The bow experts can immediately figure out the problem and issues that need your attention. So, don’t hesitate to take your bow to an expert mechanic right after the damage occurred. 


Don’t get shy when you meet the mechanic. Tell him/her everything happened and how it happened. It will make it easier for the mechanic to solve your problem in a better way. The benefit of having a professional take over things is that he/she will go through every single part of the bow. It’s not that the expert will just give it a glance. 


That means you can rest assured that your bow is taken good care of. Another benefit of taking the bow to the professional is that you can finally make some adjustments that you have been planning on making for days. 


So as soon as the damage is repaired, don’t forget to make those adjustments you were looking for. Like if you need to fix an arrow damaged, you can do it right now! 


  • If No Experts Found – Try Yourself 


So, what if you can’t happen to find an expert bow professional around you and you are really concerned about your bow. Although it’s not the ideal solution, the situation will make it evident that you have to examine the device by yourself. 


It has a few benefits, too. In this chance, you will get to know about the parts and springs of your bow in a better way. That’s a win, also. 


Now, here’s how you will assess your bow. Manage good lighting, a magnifying glass, and a large ball of cotton. 


● Put on the lights and make sure the entire bow is well illuminated when you are examining it.

● Take out the magnifying glass to see if there’s any damage on the limb of the bow.

● Use the cotton ball and rub it gently over the bow. If there’s a crack, no matter how tiny it is, the cotton will stick to it, and you can see it.

● If you can find a crack or damage on the limb, you have to be extremely careful and take the string out of the bow. This is because if the string is putting pressure on the limb, it will get further damaged.

● Check the bowstring for any tear. If you can find a trace of it being torn, immediately release it from the limb. Otherwise, the string may snap and damage the bow.

● Check every inch of the bow’s body for any kind of crack, fraying, wobbling, splinter, warping, or misalignment.

● Try to shake the bow once or twice to see if you can hear any sound or vibration. If there’s any, it may be because of internal damage.

● If everything seems fair, try shooting once or twice with an arrow on it. Check after every shoot and if there is any damage. 

● If it still doesn’t show any symptom of damage, the bow is probably okay and no problem.

● Otherwise, if it shows the slightest indications that it is somehow compromised, you need to keep it somewhere safe and take immediate action to move it to a repair shop.



Can You Get A Warranty Repair If You Dry Fire? 


Unfortunately, most bow manufacturers do not entertain a warranty service if you dry fire. This is not at a manufacturer’s fault when you damage a bow because of a dry fire. Although most top-notch brands claim that you can dry fire more than a thousand times with their bow, if it gets damaged, you still won’t get any warranty service. 


Even if you are using an expensive compound one and still dry fire compound bow, you won’t be entertained. So, there’s no warranty backup if you dry fire. That means don’t dry fire even if the brand says you can for a few times. 



How To Avoid A Dry Fire 


They say prevention is better than cure. So, it is always better not to dry fire than banging your heads against the wall in repairing your valuable bow. Here are some tips. 


Learn The Techniques


If you’ve just started archery, make sure you learn the techniques from experts and also get to know how to handle the device properly. Learn how to fire a bow without any damage. 


Never Allow Others To Use 


Your own bow is your property. Don’t allow anybody else, no matter how expert he/she is, to hold and use your bow. Especially if you have a compound bow. If your friend happens to execute a compound bow dry fire, you’re done immediately! 

If you don’t know how to restring a compound bow without a press, you can never make it up. So, be careful. 


Check The Arrows 


Frequently check the arrows for any damage. If an arrow is somewhat disfigured, there’s a chance of it getting slipped from the string. On the other hand, don’t use an arrow that is too light for the bow. Check the maker’s manual for the arrow’s ideal weight that you can use with your bow. 


Never Play By Pulling Strings 


The bow and arrow is actually a weapon beyond a sports item. So, you need to use it carefully. Do not pull strings once in a while playfully. It is not something to play with. 



Final Words 


As you become more and more expert in archery, you will get to know the ins and out of how to take care of the bow and arrow. Plus, you can find yourself some of the effective ways to prevent dry fire bow, as well. 


It’s a crucial matter that you need to take quite seriously as a dry firing bow can damage your bow and hurt people around you, including yourself. The next time you are planning on using and store your bow, make sure you are keeping a keen eye on not to dry fire in any way. 


Before ending, I will tell a story about what has already happened.

Roy, my neighbor, found out the hard way. He was testing out his new compound bow by pulling the string back without an arrow when, suddenly, the bow broke. The energy from the string had spread over the different parts of the bow and destroyed them. If he had been shooting an arrow, it could have gone in any direction – including straight back at him. As it was, the broken bow flew across the room and hit him in the head. He ended up with a nasty concussion and had to go to the hospital. Moral of the story: never dry fire your bow!

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