Dry Fire or de-rail a bow
Dry firing (or sometimes known as “dry loosing”) means that the bow string is released after being placed under tension without an arrow being in place (nocked) or an arrow being incorrectly shot. In most cases, this occurs completely by accident—often as a result of: Incorrect nocking of the arrow.
NEVER EVER DRY FIRE A BOW
When a bow is drawn with an arrow—that is, when you nock an arrow and pull the bow string back towards your face—the limbs of the bow store the energy of your draw. You can see them bend backwards as you pull back the bow string, and they desperately want to return to their original position. When you release the bow string, the limbs pull the bow string forward, and the bow string pushes the arrow forward. The energy stored in the limbs when you release the bow string is transferred to string and to the arrow, and all that energy launches the arrow at your target. Some of that energy goes back into the bow—and if you’ve ever shot an arrow and felt the bow shake, that’s why—but the great majority of that energy goes into the arrow.
That’s how the shot process is supposed to go. But here’s what happens when you dry fire a bow, and why it's such a big deal:
When a bow is drawn WITHOUT an arrow and the string is released, the energy that's stored in the limbs has nowhere to go, and the energy vibrates powerfully throughout all parts of the bow—through the limbs, through the riser, and if you’re using a compound bow, through the cams. Those vibrations are so powerful, in fact, that it can actually destroy the bow—and sends parts of the bow flying in every direction.
A dry fire can result in cracking or splintering of the limbs, string breakage, and cams/other parts fracturing, but that’s not the worst news: all those parts cracking and flying through the air can cause you severe physical damage, resulting in blindness/loss of vision (if one of those parts flies into your eye—and when you think about it, we hold our bows pretty darn close to our eyes), lacerations/cuts (some of the pieces/gear that can fly off a bow can cut you, and that’s especially