Dry Firing A Bow: Learn Why You Should Never Do It!

What is Dry Firing?

Dry Firing is an advanced shooting technique used to zero firearms for the most accurate shot. It also provides a great way to acquire muscle memory in firearm handling. The method involves setting up any sight or laser system and dry Firing the weapon at a fixed target without live ammunition to achieve accuracy downrange by placing shots where one desires them before taking it out. This was accomplished without actually shooting anything but instead using what some have referred to as “wanting power” that seems to be sparked with the first pull of the trigger.

When Can Dry Firing Occur?

Dry Firing can occur in your brain, which is why some people can anticipate and block a punch before it hits them. There are three types of dry Firing that you may hear about or experience- Brain Freeze (the so-called “aha” moment), Dry Mouth (awkward social situation), and Dry Firing of a Gun (gun safety risks). It takes well over 1,000 repetitions for dry mouth to happen due to shooting pressurized ammunition through an ejecting firearm since the hydraulics of an ejecting firearm provide enough lubrication. You don’t typically see any marks on paper as long as the gun is unloaded.

It’s Dangerous to Use Arrows That Are Too Light

It’s dangerous to use arrows that are too light because the arrow will be knocked off course, or the bow may break. The weight of a bolt is determined by its length, where heavier bolts are longer to fly faster and farther. Heavier bolts also retain more kinetic energy when fired from a bow, increasing penetration power and reducing spin as it passes through the air. Lighter bolts without more kinetic energy make worse shots than heavier ones. The total weight of a composite (carbon) arrow depends on its shaft material, with carbon arrows being lighter than aluminum ones. 

Why Dry Firing a Compound Bow Can be Worse Than a Recurve Bow

If you dry fire a compound bow, and the slightest bump accounts for the release of energy in your bubble, then it can make noise or cause damages. But with a recurve bow, if there is a slight vibration before releasing the feather blade, it will go back into its perfect spot and not cause any issues.

Compound bows are designed to release when they’re released by pushing on the arrow’s nock-side instead of attaching feathers to their strings. So while fired arrows gradually lose elastics over time, dry fire (release without an arrow) more quickly shows that they’re lost – usually 3-4 years sooner than arrows would be expected to show wear and tear under regular use.

What To Do If You Dry Fire Your Bow

If your bow isn’t higher quality, the arrow will act like a rock and bang up the riser on your bow. If you’re lucky enough to have a good quality bow, it’s going to cost you around $1-200 for a new riser depending on where you live and what parts are available in that area. Your expensive limbs are probably okay since they get protected by the string when firing, so dry fire doesn’t generate enough force for significant damage outside of bumping up the riser. Make sure not to dry fire again! 

Safety Tips Related to Dry Fires

  • When handling a firearm, always act as if it is loaded.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.
  • Be aware of persons in your shooting area. Stay away from people at all times when handling firearms or ammunition. 
  • Only clean a firearm when necessary, and have it inoperable while being groomed. Do not fire a “dry” gun (one that has an empty chamber) for any reason whatsoever – even to see if it’s loaded! 

Arrows Result in Dry-Fire-Like Results

The word arrow, as used in this context, means to strike like an arrow. It has nothing to do with arrows you shoot at a target for sport or hunting. The idea here is that you are making lightning-fast, decisive, even abrupt moves akin to the movements of an archer and resulting in quickly hitting your mark–in this case, your opponent’s most vulnerable spot, like striking them with your bowstring from behind.

Dry Firing Damages Your Bow

Dry Firing at full draw stretches tension cables and releases stored energy in the form of elastic potential energy. To a bow, this is like pulling strings on an instrument up to their limits over and over again without releasing – eventually, they will snap.

The best analogy for damage you can do by dry firing your bow is that it’s equivalent to bending a metal ruler with your hands while it’s straight. If you bend just one side enough times without shifting its position, you bend both sides and break the ruler down into two pieces. 

Problem With Dry Firing

One of the primary problems with dry Firing (pulling the trigger on a firearm without holding live ammunition) is that it can lead to dangerous and irreversible consequences like corroded and heavily pitted slides, scratched non-chromed parts, broken and deformed contact points on barrels (forcing you to barrel), or even catastrophic failure. It often results in off velocity rounds, which are highly underpowered since there is no powder ignition to ignite the cartridge casing.

Recommended Action For Dry Firing: Dry fire only if using snap caps that will protect your barrel from eroding too heavily. Otherwise, people should invest in their shotgun or rifle range rather than risk damaging their firearms in the home.

What to do if You Accidentally Dry Fire a Bow

If you accidentally dry fire a bow, make sure any loose bits of equipment are out of the way, and then discharge the arrow by carefully pulling back on the string and letting it go. To be safe, before shooting an unstrung bow or crossbow without an arrow, always have someone stand behind to catch it if it recoils.

Although occasional dry fires will not damage your bow, they can lead to inaccurate shots as muscles tense up, causing inconsistent shot placement. Always make sure there is something positioned in front that will catch arrows safely should one hit the target while being loaded. 

What Exactly Could Happen When You Accidentally Dry Fire

The dry fire may permanently damage or destroy the paintball, lead to a loss of accuracy, and score an inexperienced player out.

Permanently damaged means that it would be necessary to replace the barrel. Loss of accuracy may mean that darts were skewed off course by another dart being fired into it during premature launch or because there was no dart in place; this could result in missing one’s target for each shot missed. A player can be scored out by prematurely firing their blaster (though they don’t have to miss necessarily) when turn order has not been decided yet – thus eliminating any chance at winning the game.

How to Avoid Dry Firing Your Bow

You can avoid dry firing your bow by avoiding the following practices:

  • Firing the bow too often will break down oil on cables and strings and cause them to seize up. Trying to stir with a wooden spoon that has seized up is never fun!
  • You were leaving the bow at full draw for more than 30 seconds before releasing it. The longer you maintain an archer’s bridge, the more work is being done on your back muscles as they hold everything in place! Put all that muscle work to good use release those arrows! 
  • Dry firing your bow without an arrow or release point attached to verify how far back it’s pulled before trying out a new one (you know we

Why is Dry Firing Considered an Archery Sin?

Shooting a bow without first stringing the bow is considered bad form and can damage the arrows. Stringing a bow is often likened to pulling it back, so someone might do this to “set their draw length.”

So don’t imitate those jackwagon archers who can’t even step up and provide a legit target! Instead, see a shooting coach at your local pro shop for some proper guidance before you mess up that perfect hair-do or buy more arrows than you need or, worse yet, have an accident with one of those not-so-perfectly made Chinese imports (or any other imports).

How To Tell If a Bow is Not Meant For Dry Firing?

There are several ways to tell if a bow is not dry Firing.

One way is to remove the string from the bow and hang it by the lower limb for 15 minutes, then release it and check whether or not at least some of the upper limb bends; that should seem like an otherwise healthy arc. 

Another is checking for noise when pulling back on the string while held still: this can be accomplished with rubber bands. Rubber bands usually produce clicking or snapping noises in addition to increased force because they slip against one another as they make contact. Still, proper stretching releases them without making noise.


Hopefully, this article managed to teach you why dry firing your bow can be bad. In fact, it can be considered a sin in the world of archery. If you have questions, feel free to tell us about it below. 

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