Dry firing a bow is the act of shooting a bow without an arrow. While this may seem harmless to some of us who are just starting out I assure you that this can be one costly mistake.
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The fact of the matter is that it can happen to anyone beginner or expert for many different reasons. Whether it be from ignorance, distractions, or accidental misfire of a release it happens all the time. So the question is what do you do if you accidentally dry-fire your bow ?
There are a few outcomes that could happen when a bow is dry-fired, the first is that your bowstring, and cables could snap resulting in your limbs breaking and potential debris flying all over the place. This is basically the worst case scenario. The second scenario is that your string breaks however everything else stays intact, and the third possibility is that it will appear that nothing has happened to the bow.
No matter what scenario your bow falls into after being dry-fired, the first thing you will need to do is to get a magnifying glass and a bright light and look over the limbs especially near the cams for any cracking, or splintering. If you find that one of both limbs have cracks or splinters in them then you will have to replace the limbs before you are able to shoot again.
After checking for cracks and splinters in the limbs, take a look at the cams/wheels to make sure that they have not been bent or cracked, again if they are you will need to replace them as soon as possible before you are able to shoot. Next if you were lucky enough to have your string still intact, you will need to check the whole thing for badly frayed portions, cut strands, and badly damaged areas, especially near the axles.
If everything checks out and you were unable to find anything wrong with your bow then you are lucky, and you have 2 options, your first option is to draw the bow(with an arrow) and shoot it. Make note of any weird noises, or vibrations. If you aren't the risky type then you can bring it into a bow repair shop and they will have the tools and resources to be able to better inspect it for damages.
In any of the other cases where the string breaks and/or the bow limbs shatter, you will first go get medical attention if you need it and then you will need to bring your bow in to a bow repair shop and you will have to replace the limbs,string, and any other broken parts(axles,cams,wheels etc.).
Dry-firing your bow is something you will want to avoid at all costs. To help minimize your chances of dry-firing a bow you should always draw a bow arrow in it, and aim it at a target. This way if you do accidentally release the string there is an arrow in it and you have a target to stop the arrow. Also if you are just trying out a bow be sure to draw with a anti-dry-fire release. When in a group of people it is very easy to become side tracked and forget to load your bow with an arrow. Its always good to double check before you draw your bow.
Have you ever dry-fired your bow ?