All You Need To Know About Dry Firing A Bow (Complete Guide)

So, you accidentally dry-fired your bow and thought, what should you do? Or, you simply heard this term and want to dig dive into the topic. Either way, you can read this post.

Dry firing a bow is not a fire spark or the bow gets dry. Let’s come out of this misconception. Dry fire means shooting your arrow without nocking it on the bowstring. 

It is a crucial rule you have to know before shooting a bow. If you want to learn more about the post, you can just read on.

What Is Dry Firing A Bow?

Dry firing in archery and bow implies firing an arrow from a bow without triggering it. When we accidentally release our bow strings without loading them with arrows, dry fire takes place.

It happens mostly during practice. You pull back the string for a practice shot and let it go. Next, you’ll hear an extremely loud crack. Yes, this is how dry firing occurs.

Why Bows Dry Fires?

When we start to pull the bowstring behind the limbs it goes through a lot of tension, and it begins to store energy. Then the bowstring gets released. Next, the stress is transmitted to the bow which pushes it afterward. 

Only a tiny amount of stress is transmitted back into the arrow, which ends resulting in vibrations. However when there is no arrow loaded on the string. So the energy can’t go anywhere.

As a result, energy is stored in limbs. But the limbs can’t bear this energy. And this causes a pseudo-dry fire effect and bows start giving dry fires. 

What to do if you dry fire your bow? Well, first be thankful if you aren’t injured. If not then now is the time to inspect all the parts and look for visual damages. And next, you have to fix them individually. But in case of microscopic structural damage go to a professional to fix it. As they can undermine your bow’s structural integrity.

Why Compound Bow Dry Fires?

Dry firing compound bow because of the same backward force that came back to limbs. But this time the stress is more powerful than ever. So the damage is also huge!

Dry firing extremely damages a bow. Like, Sometimes the fiberglass and the wood beneath it get splintered. The damage can also include cracking, splintering, and even delaminations! 

Why Recurve Bow Dry Fires?

The release force in recurve bow is less than the compound bows. So the backward force is not that stressful. But still, it dried up because there left no place to store the energy in empty strings. 

But hopefully, the risk of explosion and injury is less! 

Problems With Dry Fired Bow

There are plenty of reasons that you should never dry fire your bow. 

Let’s see- how does dry fire damage a bow?

When there is no place for backward force to go it is just stored in the limbs. And it bursts!

This results in catastrophic material damage to the limbs. And the limbs got completely unusable. 

Even during the explosion the plastic and metal parts can directly hit you on the face!

I think now you’ve already got Why is dry firing a bow bad?

What Happens If You Dry Fire A Bow?

The effect of dry firing on a bow varies from bow to bow. While the longbow has the least effect, the compound bow encounters serious damage on dry fire.

Now, I’ll discuss how the dry fire affects each bow.

What Happens If You Dry Fire A Crossbow?

Dry firing the bow is too dangerous. Firstly the limb parts broke apart and started flying through the air. Most of the archers get injured here. You also lose your crossbow limbs forever.

What Happens If You Dry Fire A Compound Bow?

Dry firing compound bows is the worst-ever experience you’ll get. As the mechanism is more complex the release and backward force is extreme. 

So you can imagine what serious injuries can cause. Even stripped inserts can be unusable as limbs. However, the stress with triggers can damage it too.

How To Check The Bow After A Dry Fire?

Most of the time you’ll be able to detect dry firing with nacked eye and cracking sounds. Let’s see the signs- 

How To Tell If A Compound Bow Has Been Dry-Fired?

You cannot measure the damages always with visual inspection in a compound bow. Open up the limbs, and stings and if there is any microscopic structural damage present then you ensure about the dry fire.

How To Tell If A Crossbow Has Been Dry-Fired?

You can detect this only by observing the limbs. They’ll simply burst or be damaged. Or the cracking sound is also a sign.

How To Tell If A Longbow Has Been Dry-Fired?

In the case of a longbow, the strings will break apart and the metal or plastic parts will fly off in the air.

Interested in learning more about this? Here’s a full post on how to tell if a bow has been dry fired

Can A Dry-Fired Bow Be Fixed?

Most of us don’t know how to repair a dry-fired bow. Some don’t even know if it is possible or not.

Actually, it depends on how much damage your bow parts are. If the parts have minor issues then it’s an easy breeze to fix. But if the limbs are broken or the string gets apart then you better replace them.

Can A Bow Survive A Dry Fire?

The survival of a bow after injury depends on its power and capacity. If the release force is more powerful the damage is huge. And there is less chance of survival.

But in some cases, the capacity to bear such stress is also high. So luckily your bow can survive.

How To Fix A Dry-Fired Bow?

First, you need a proper inspection and then go through the repair steps.

Pull out all the damaged or broken parts. I suggest you replace all the damaged inserts even if they are not completely broken.  But don’t try to fix microscopic damages on your own. 

Read the full post on how to repair a dry-fired bow.

Is It Okay To Pull Back Without An Arrow?

Yeah, It’s okay if you draw back without an arrow loaded. It’s the way to check the bow’s draw length, peephole alignment, and stuff like these.


How to fix a dry-fired bow?

Visually inspect the damaged parts and repair them individually. For microscopic damages look for a professional.

Can you dry-fire a compound bow?

Yeah. Compound bows give dry fires too when the arrows aren’t seated intentionally or accidentally.

Can a bow be OK after a dry fire?

If your bow has enough capacity to store the extreme backward force then it’ll survive. Otherwise, they may be unusable.

Can a bow be fixed after the dry fire?

Yes if the damages are minor you can fix the bow after the dry fire.

Does a dry-firing bow break it?

Dry firing may not break the whole bow but it can break the relatable parts like limbs, and string.

Is my bow ruined after a dry fire?

It is rare for a bow to be completely ruined after a dry fire. You can fix it or repairing the parts can save the bow. 

One thought on “All You Need To Know About Dry Firing A Bow (Complete Guide)

  1. I accidentally dry fired a compound bow once, I thought i was gonna die. My whole body from head to toe felt like it got hit by a truck. I fell to the ground and just laid there, still feeling like a truck ran over me. I finally was able to get up and shake it off. What had happen was i drew the string back, the arrow became separated from the noch and, unknownst to me, fell to the ground, i still had the noch in my fingers. I released the string and omg

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