How many times have you heard that dry firing a bow is a bad idea? Odds are, you have already been lectured once or twice about this before, and for good reason. Bows should always be used with an arrow, and skipping this vital component could lead to a dangerous scenario. While dry firing a compound bow may seem relatively harmless, it could result in catastrophic damage to your hunting tool, and sometimes even injury to the user.

Basically, one of the three things happen when you dry fire a bow. Either nothing happens, your bow dramatically falls apart, or the most worrying scenario: nothing happens immediately but your bow has been damaged. Minute cracking and splintering can occur in the event of a dry fire, and that means the next time you decide to use that particular bow, you’ll be in for a massive surprise.

According to the video below, that is what happened here. If you ever absentmindedly dry fire your bow (or loan it to someone who does), be sure to carefully examine the bow afterwards. Make note of any scratches, cracks or fraying, and flex it lightly to see if it makes any strange noises. If you are not especially experienced with these tasks, give it to someone who is or bring it in to a professional.

After all, it’s more than worth the money not to have fiberglass embedded in your forearms.

Image screenshot of video by Central Texas Bowhunter on YouTube

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7 thoughts on “Video: Why Dry Firing a Bow is a Bad Idea

  1. Same thing happened to me with that bow and the limb drilled me. Even if it’s dry fired it shouldn’t do that. I’m glad it was me and not a little kid.

    1. A bow when drawn back is stored kinetic energy and torque. When an arrow is nocked and fired that stored energy is used to push the arrow. When a bow is dry fired the energy transfers back to the limbs and cams. This can cause minor damage or catastrophic failure of the bow.

      1. I can see in theory the idea about “the energy has to go somewhere”, so it goes into the limbs instead of the arrow.
        Why isn’t this true with shooting a blank out of a gun? In a regular cartridge, the released energy (expanding gases from burning powder) goes into the bullet. If you fire a blank, that energy doesn’t go into the bullet, so why wouldn’t it go into the chamber and barrel and cause bad things to happen?
        I’m nowhere close to an engineer, so just trying to figure this one at my level. Thanks

      2. The bow/arrow is a mechanical/force that uses energy from the string to propel the arrow or warp the bow if no arrow is to be used in the energy transfer..
        A bullet fired from a gun is a chemical/explosion force release. The only moving part of the gun is the firing pin initiating the explosion. the Gun itself is just a director of that force. the inherent action of path of least resistance causes the explosion to expel itself from the barrel of the gun. It does not matter what is being propelled as long as it it does not exceed the force resistance of the guns hardware. so a blank would have less resistance force than an actual bullet…almost the reverse of the bow/no arrow issue if one were to compare the apples and oranges.
        hope that helped!

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