Dry Firing A Bow

Dry firing a bow, also known as dry loosing, can cause serious harm to your bow. Dry firing is when you are shooting the bow without an arrow or, in some cases, the working arrow. You may wonder why is it bad to dry fire a bow, as it is nothing more than the bow and the string?

The problem faces compound bows more than others for specific reasons. First, compound bows are vulnerable to damage after dry firing because of the constant high strain and many moving parts. The bow stores kinetic energy when you pull the string back. Usually, the stored energy is released through the arrow when you shoot an arrow.

If you don’t have an arrow in the bow, your stored energy is released into the bow, leading to serious damage to the limbs, axles, cams, and string. A dry-fired bow can literally explode under certain conditions. Thus, dry firing a compound bow can be costly or, worst case, can cause bodily harm for the shooter.

Mainly, dry firing a bow occurs by accident. For example, you could be bow hunting, and your fingers slip as you trip when aiming. Alternatively, an arrow could have hit something hard the last time you did some target practice in your front yard. Additionally, your arrow can unlock itself without you noticing, and as you fire, the nock will fall out of the shaft, resulting in an accidental dry fire when released.

Damages from Dry Firing A Bow

You can learn more about what happens when you dry fire a bow in our guide. By the end, you’ll learn why dry fire archery and even accidentally dry firing bow is extremely dangerous and isn’t any good for you or your compound bow. (Read Barnett Quad 400 Review)

What Happens If You Dry Fire A Bow?

You don’t want just to avoid dry firing your bow without an arrow or to avoid accidental dry fires.

Dry loosing can also occur if you choose too light arrows for your compound.

Because a too-light arrow has the same effect as a bow that has been dry-fired, the stored energy is simply too great to be released in that arrow.

Bow hunters frequently prefer heavier arrows because they retain energy more efficiently, so they have a higher Kinetic Energy for penetration.

With arrows, manufacturers frequently demand a minimum weight. Again, this information should be in the handbook or in the box that arrived with your model.

Here you can see why dry firing a bow is a terrible idea and what makes firing your bow dangerous.

1. Dry Firing Damage:

The whole bow setup can quickly explode and include the limbs snapping, axles bending, pieces flying around, and so on.

The repercussions of dry firing or an arrow nocked incorrectly on a compound bow can cause severe damage. Unfortunately, many people claim there’s no harm yet don’t understand the internal damage it can cause, and when something breaks, they think they have purchased a poor-quality bow.

Broken Strings from Dry Firing A Bow

2. Broken Strings:

In this situation, all you get is a broken bowstring, or so you think. But, at the very least, a broken string is an obvious sign that something has been damaged. Even the cable guard out of position could be enough to highlight an issue.

So there appears to be a reason to take your bow to the bow shop and have your bow checked by an expert. (Read Killer Instinct Ripper 415 Review)

Your Bow Appears Fine:

If nothing seems to have happened, you may think you are lucky, yet it could be the worst scenario of all. For example, if you dry fire and nothing happens, you may put off checking for damage and getting your bow repaired.

You can carry on shooting, and it is here where your compound bow explodes in your face.

Can a Bow Survive A Dry Fire?

The more strength a bow has, the more significant damage a dry fire does. This is because the energy that should have been used to fire an arrow is now being used to pound the bow.

A 70-pound bow is likely to be damaged, but a 30-pound bow is usually fine.

Assuming no one was hurt, here’s how to inspect your bow for damage.

Dry fire a compound bow and put it back in its bag. If it breaks, the pieces should stay inside the bag rather than fly out and smack someone in the face.

Checking Your Bow for Obvious Damage

You’d usually know if your bow was damaged during the dry fire. The bow will be in pieces.

Another noticeable thing that can happen is called derailment. When the compound bow string comes off the cams, be loose and be visibly damaged.

If either happens, again, take it to your local pro shop as if there is visible damage; it’s not safe to use.

Compound bows feature more parts than typical bows, therefore inspecting for damage takes more time.

Sometimes, you can get it fixed with new limbs, etc. Depending on the cost, it could be the chance to upgrade your compound bow.

Check for Less Obvious Dry Fire Damage

  • After a dry fire, check your compound bow’s cam alignment. The cams can twist/tilt after absorbing the energy from the unconstrained release.
  • You can check them visually. Larger cam bows make this easier.
  • A straight edge is a more reliable way. First, check the cams with the straight edge. A slight misalignment of the cams might cause a derailment.
  • Examine the cams and axles for noticeable damage. Look for anything crooked, bent, or otherwise goofy. Also, check the c-clips.
  • Some cams have tiny stress zones where the string hooks on. Unless you’re educated to repair bows, damage can be hard to detect.
  • Examine the limbs. A dry fire shocks the limbs the most. As a result, they may be crooked or cracked.
  • Compound bow limbs are usually quite robust. The primary trouble areas are the axles. Inspect them carefully.
  • Check the limbs’ connections to the riser. It comprises a draw weight bolt, a pivot pin/bolt, and a clamp that holds the limbs to the riser.
  • Ensure that everything is seated, that nothing is fractured, and that nothing is bent. This is a crucial part of the bow.
  • Examine the string carefully. Examine each strand for damage such as cut, frayed, or out of place strands.
  • Potential failure points are the servings’ interaction with the cams and their end-tying.
  • The string underlying the servings can be hard to notice, but gaps between the serving windings can show damage.

Broken Limbs Dry Firing A Bow

How To Check for Cracks

Because little fractures are difficult to perceive, many people employ the dry cotton ball method.

This works well with traditional wood or composite bows.

  1. Simply brush a dry cotton ball around the limbs and riser.
  2. If there are any little cracks, the cotton ball fibers will catch them and cause pulling. You may certainly see the strands catching in the jagged fissures.
  3. Suitable for recurves and longbows, although not usually successful on metal.

What the Professional Can Do

Professionals will go one step farther to assure safety.

For example, they can unstring the bow and thoroughly inspect the cams and axles.

They can check the axles for bends. They can also spin the cams freely. Any misalignment, wobbling, or other issues should be noticeable. (Learn When Do Bow Sights Work Best)

Taking the strings off the cams will also allow you to inspect them.

These tests may be done quickly with the right tools, such as a bow press.

It takes a pro to give you the green light. A damaged bow can explode, injuring you and others.

Should You Ever Dry Fire A Bow?

How can dry firing a bow harm it? It simply transfers the energy stored in the string and limb to the arrow. With a heavier draw weight, more energy is released, so the more damage there can be.

When you dry fire a bow, there is no arrow to discharge the energy to. Unexpectedly, the bow releases energy via strong vibrations and heat. These dangerous vibrations can destroy a bow and possibly endanger anyone in the vicinity.

The amount of damage caused by a dry fire varies depending on the bow’s material and construction. Sometimes, higher-quality bows are slightly damaged, while lower-quality bows are entirely destroyed.

Compound bows are more prone to be significantly damaged by dry fire due to draw weight being a significant influence. The draw weight of a compound bow is usually substantially higher than a recurve or conventional bow.

There are more moving parts with compound bows, so more things can go wrong. Also, the more pieces and intricate the system is, the more things can go wrong.

What Parts Can be Damaged?

A damaged bow’s weaker sections are more susceptible. Joints and connections can be broken, and weak materials can be shattered. The entire bow can shatter and fly in numerous directions.

Broken Cams Dry Firing A Bow

Parts prone to dry fire damage:

  • Cams: A broken or bent cam might cause wires to escape the tracks and loop around.
  • Limbs: can be separated from the riser and shattered.
  • Bowstring: can be broken or strained.

Other bow components can be damaged by dry fire, but these are the most common and dangerous.

What to do if you dry fire your bow

If you accidentally dry fire a bow, carefully inspect it and take it to a professional archery shop.

Your inspection will not be sufficient because some damage is not visible.

If you see significant wear on your bowstring or limb, take it to a professional as soon as possible. This reason of damage might quickly derail. A torn string is not the same as a worn string.

Inspect Your Bow

Before you inspect the bow, move it somewhere where you can plainly see it. You’ll also need good lighting and a table. A magnifying glass might be useful.

The first step is to inspect the bowstring for damage. If you see any damage, get the bow to an archery shop right away. If the string snaps, the bow is usually worse for wear.

Remove the bowstring from the bow as carefully as possible. It’s vital since the string puts pressure on the limbs, potentially causing further damage.

If you’ve never taken a bowstring off, I’d recommend taking it to a pro archery store as you don’t want anything to happen.

Now that you’re safe from derailing damage, inspect the bow’s limbs. Look for fractures. Then, using a magnifying glass, check for minor damage.

After checking the riser, inspect the rest of the bow for fractures or misalignments. Begin with the cams and riser, then work your way around the bow.

Relax if everything looks fine, but get the bow to an archery shop as soon as possible. Never use a bow if you accidentally dry fire without first consulting an expert.

Take Your Bow To A Professional Archery Shop

The most important thing to remember is, to be honest with the archery shop employee regarding dry firing the bow. They can’t check for a problem with the bow unless they know there is one.

It’s necessary to admit it, even if it’s embarrassing. You are not the first to walk into that shop with a dry-fired bow. The shop will take your dry-fired bow and inspect it thoroughly for damage. They know what to look for to ensure your bow is in good working order.

You know you’re in expert hands when you go to an expert. If they say OK, you can resume bow shooting.

After any dry fires, take it easy for the first few shots. Then, slowly draw the bow string and listen for creaks. (Read Longbow Vs Shortbow)

Never draw a bow without a nocked arrow. Again, experienced archers will know the signs of damage and understand what can happen.

Most archers quickly learn to never dry fire a bow because too much can happen.

Dry Firing A Bow

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