Perhaps you wondered if shooting a bow could lead to it exploding in your face. I should emphasize that the brand doesn’t matter, but you need to take care of your equipment because like with damaged arrows, firing a damaged bow can be just as dangerous.
Can bows explode? While rare, bows can and have exploded. Avoid dry firing a bow because 95 percent of bows usually explode when archers dry fire off their bow. Dry firing refers to the practice of shooting the bow without having an arrow notched to the bowstring.
If you’d like to learn more about the exploding bow phenomenon and how to stay safe from it, I’m going to cover this in the upcoming article. Continue reading….
Why Do Bows Explode?
Bows also explode for the same reason that damaged arrows explode. When you shoot a damaged bow, it can cause it to explode.
Very few bows will explode provided you take good care of them. Inspect the bow’s limbs, bowstring and arrows from time to time for damage.
Never shoot a damaged bow or damaged equipment.
When someone repeatedly dry fires a bow, it damages the bow.
Why Dry Firing a Bow is Bad
You shouldn’t dry fire a bow because 95 percent of bows exploding happen because of dry firing.
Dry firing a bow, the energy doesn’t transfer from the bow to the arrow. The energy gets trapped in the bow and has to exit somewhere. It exits through causing strong vibrations throughout the bow. Vibrations like this can either damage the bow or cause it to explode.
The strength of the bow will determine the damage sustained. Even a well-made bow can suffer damage from dry firing. Stronger draw weight from a dry fired bow puts it at increased risk of exploding.
Bows store up tons of kinetic energy that needs to transfer somewhere, usually to the arrow. Never dry fire a bow for any reason. Getting a broken bow isn’t the worst of what can happen.
When a bow explodes, it could hurt you or someone else as the shattered bow sends shards of broken materials in every direction.
To give you an idea of the force, one person dry fired a Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow. The bow exploded, came back and gave the shooter a fat lip and chipped front tooth. Dry firing a bow has the potential to be very serious.
The bow sits next to your face. Firing it from that angle, if it explodes, pieces of the bow can cut your face or even blind you. The force of an exploding bow can knock you out.
Dry Fired a Bow: Here’s What You Need to Do
Don’t rely on your own eye to catch signs of damage. You need the care and expertise of a professional. Some signs of damage to a bow will be difficult to spot without a trained eye. Firing a damaged bow can cause it to explode.
Any damage to the bow after a dry firing requires repair before you shoot it again. Don’t worry about telling them that you dry fired it. This helps them to understand what to look for with damage.
How to Inspect the Bow Yourself for Signs of Damage
First, take the bow to a well-lit area to aid the inspection. You will need to use a magnifying glass to inspect the limbs for signs of damage. Rub a tiny cotton ball over the limbs. The cotton will catch anywhere with damage to the limbs.
You want to inspect the bowstring as well for signs of tearing. Put the bow into a bow press immediately.
If the bowstring snaps, it will damage the bow. Inspect every inch of the bow including the cables, the riser, the cams and string vibration arrestor.
Look for cracks, fractures, splinters, looseness or wobbling.
Provided everything looks fine, draw the bow to see if any strange vibrations or sounds come out of it. If anything seems out of place, have it further inspected by a professional. Do not fire your bow. Doing this could cause it to explode.
If everything seems okay, test fire some arrows. You want to check to see that the bow remains in alignment. Arrows that don’t shoot where you aim indicate that you need to have your bow retuned.
Dry Firing Not Covered by Your Warranty
Not only is dry firing dangerous to you, but the bow manufacturer won’t cover you if you dry fire your bow. Think about it. Why should they have to pay to cover someone who dry fired their bow?
To be clear, accidents happen from to time and someone could accidentally dry fire the bow. They might think they have the arrow nocked when they don’t. It happens.
Always check before firing your bow to see that you nocked it properly. It doesn’t happen only to beginners, and even seasoned pros have forgotten to properly nock the arrow.
Dry Firing Risks Exploding Your Bow
Dry firing will almost always damage the bow. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, this can cause the bow to explode later.
Compound bows especially face a danger with it because of the extra parts in comparison to recurves and longbows. When you dry fire a compound bow, you have an increased risk that the pieces will fly back and hit you in the face. However, any bow that has a higher draw weight will risk exploding at a dry fire.
Beware of Letting Newbies Handle Your Bow
Let’s say that you have a buddy who heard you have a new bow. He has no experience with the bow and draws back the string, “Wait!” you warn, but he looses his hand on the string and dry fires it. The bow explodes and blinds your buddy for life.
This scenario can and has happened many times before. Never let a newbie handle your bow without instruction. If you do let them handle it, warn them about dry firing. Many people don’t understand the dangers because they might have seen it done in the movies with no repercussions.
In real life, dry firing a bow can cause it to explode. That’s the chief reason behind why bows explode.
Light Arrows and the Dangers
Dry firing a bow doesn’t always happen because of ignorance. In some cases, the arrow was too light for the bow. With bowfishing arrows, this rarely happens because of their heavier weight, but it can happen with regular arrows as some of the energy from the string transfers back into the bow limbs and causes a dry fire.
Before you choose an arrow, always look at the measurement tables of the manufacturer. You can ask the experts at your bow shop, also.
How to Prevent Dry Firing: Most Commonly It Happens on Accident
You may be wondering how you can prevent dry firing your bow. After you know that it can happen, it usually happens by accident. Few skilled archers will dry fire a bow willingly, knowing the dangers.
Instead, it happens when they mistakenly think that they have the arrow notched.
Here’s where mindfulness could play a fundamental role in protecting you while making the experience of archery more enjoyable.
It takes mindful calm to draw back the bowstring and aim.
Before that, make sure that you have the arrow nocked properly. Understanding the internal process of what leads to an accurate shot can sharpen your archery skills too.
Take deep breaths to steady your aim before releasing the tension on the bow. Focus on the process of the shot, rather than the outcome, and you will lower the risk that you will dry shoot an arrow.
It doesn’t happen often, but when you take many shots, sooner or later, the risk exists that you would dry fire the arrow.
Arrows Can Explode Too
Along with bows exploding, your arrows can explode, which can result in serious harm. This most commonly happens when you fire a cracked or damaged arrow, and the arrow shatters as you go to fire it. The most common injury from a shot like this is having the arrow shards go into your hand, but this can be equally dangerous.
Shooting a damaged arrow can hurt yourself or someone nearby.
You want to inspect your arrows every few shots because they can take damage on impact after only a few shots. Keep inspecting them occasionally to make sure that you never fire a damaged arrow.
To answer the question, yes, bows can explode, but in most cases, they only explode when someone dry fires them. Avoid dry firing the bow, and you should be fine. Make sure that no one else dry fires your bow. If they don’t have experience with archery supervise them carefully and warn them right away about dry firing. Dry firing a bow is the chief cause of exploding bows in 95 percent of cases.