How To Fix A Dry Fired Bow (6-Step Guide)

By Andy Ryan


Updated at
man aiming his target in an outdoor range

Dry firing a bow is dangerous to you, the people around you, and the safety of your bow. Those pressures are so intense that they have the potential to break the bow and send pieces flying in every direction.

I strongly advise you to take your dry-fired bow to a qualified specialist as soon as possible. However, if you live a long way from a bow repair shop, here’s a list of expert tips to guide you on what you should do if you accidentally dry fired your bow:

The Problem with Dry Firing

Every time you draw back a bowstring, it stores energy in the bow. When you let go of the bowstring, the arrow absorbs energy, which propels it towards the target.

Since there is no arrow when you dry fire a bow, the energy cannot pass to the arrow, yet the energy must still go somewhere. As a result, the force is returned to the bow, causing intense vibrations all across the bow.

In case you didn’t know, these vibrations can severely damage any section of the bow. A poorly constructed bow is more likely to be harmed by a dry fire. However, this does not rule out the potential of a well-made bow being destroyed as well.

The level of damage a bow sustains from a dry fire is determined by its strength than its quality. The more force in the draw weight of the bow, the more powerful the vibrations will be, and the larger the risk of injury. (1)

Since compound bows are so potent and accumulate so much force before discharging the shot, they are incredibly vulnerable to damage from dry fire.

What Can Happen?

Dry-firing a bow does not always result in damage. Dry firing a bow may not cause any harm if you’re lucky but may shatter your bow if you’re not careful. You have no way of knowing the outcome.

Dry firing can result in one or more of the following problems:

  • Cams that are bent
  • Cam tracks are twisted
  • Bowstring that has been broken or jammed
  • Limbs shattered
  • The cable guard is damaged.

If you dry fire your bow, it can harm just about any component, and it usually affects multiple parts. The bow will appear to shatter at its most extreme. The limbs will fracture and fly away, and the thread might snap.

What to Do If Your Bow Dry Fired

If you dry fire your bow, you should first ensure you and anybody else around you are safe. After that, look over the bow to make sure it isn’t damaged. If there is any apparent damage, a fast, thorough check will reveal it. 

Many people prefer to examine for minor cracks using a dry cotton ball because cracks can be difficult to spot. Simply brush a dry cotton ball all along the length of the limbs and the riser.

Whether there are any small cracks, the cotton ball’s fibers will grasp them and cause pulling. You’ll certainly see the strands catching in the sharp fissures as well.

Nevertheless, if you find your bow broken, you’re out of the game. Do not attempt to reassemble your bow or replace damaged components with components from other bows. You’ll need to stop using your bow if it has significant major damage from dry fire. Thus, you’ll need to take it to a pro shop for an inspection (more of this below).

How to Manually Examine Your Bow

After a dry fire, you need to proceed with a thorough examination of your bow. This will not yet fix the issue, but it’ll have to suffice if you don’t have any other options.

Here is your guide on checking your bow after it dry-fired.

Step 1: Examine the cams and axles for any noticeable damage or cracks. Look for anything that might be out of place, swelled, crooked, or otherwise out of place. Make sure the c-clips are still correctly in place as well.

Step 2: Evaluate the limbs thoroughly. The limbs are the ones that receive the brunt of a dry fire’s shock. They may be twisted or fractured.

Step 3: The limbs of your compound bow are pretty robust. The primary source of problems is generally around the axles. Do a comprehensive inspection of these locations.

Step 4: Inspect where the limbs are attached to the riser as well. This typically consists of a draw weight setting bolt, a pin/bolt on which the limb pivots, and a clamp that secures the limbs to the riser. Ensure everything is in place, there are no cracks, and there is no evidence of anything bent. This is a vital part of the bow. You may want to check here how to adjust your bow’s draw weight for better use.

Step 5: After that, examine the string exceptionally closely. Examine each strand for any damage, such as cuts, frayed ends, or strands that are out of place.

Step 6: Take a look at the servings. Where the servings meet the cams and are linked at the ends are among the most common breakpoints.

Step 7: Although it’s difficult to tell what’s happened to the string beneath the servings, the gaps between the serving coils can reveal the damage. (2)

Let a Professional Inspect Your Bow

If you dry fire your bow, the wisest plan of action is to take it to a professional archery shop and have it examined by an expert. Chances are, you may not spot things that an expert can. They’ll disassemble the bow with a bow press to ensure that every component is still in good working order. Finally, they will identify the root of the problem and offer a solution to fix it permanently.

Upon consultation, it would be best to tell them how the bow dry-fired in detail. This is crucial information that will help them determine the type of damage to check for on your bow.

How to Keep Your Bow Safe from Dry Firing

Dry fires can also be caused by arrows that are too light or too short or by faulty or damaged nocks. Constantly check your nocks when you load your arrows and have them cut by a professional to verify they’re the right length.

Bows can also get derailed, which is similar to dry fire. When a twig or other object becomes entangled in the bowstring or cable, it can tear the string or cause it to tumble off the cam. Derailments can be just as destructive as a dry fire.

Overall, staying aware and practicing safety are the most reliable ways to avoid a dry fire. Before practicing, inspect your bow, arrows, and accessories. Stick to your shooting plan. Also, always treat your equipment with care and respect, including instructing friends and family members not to play with your bow.

You may want to check the video below;

A bow that dry fired is harmful to the wielder, the people around, and the bow. Therefore, quick action is required when this happens. You can do two things to fix a dry-fired bow; the first is to examine the bow and assess whether you can still repair it. And proceed with precaution. The second option is to take it to a professional archery shop and have it examined by an expert.

Doing maintenance to your bow often will definitely help avoid dry firing. Here’s additional information for you on why dry firing a bow is bad.


(1) vibrations –
(2) coils –