What does dry-firing or derailing a bow mean?
Dry-firing is the process of firing your bow without an arrow loaded into it, while derailing a bow means that the string is pulled back and slipped out of the groove on the cams or wheels of the bow. These are usually accidental. Novice archers almost always have the desire to draw back a bow without an arrowójust to see how the weight and cams feel. When they do this they make the mistake of letting the string go which can cause the bow to explode or derail, if the weight of the bow is too heavy for the archer or if the cams are just too much then this is even more likely to happen. Adding possibly slippery fingers or a release they have never tried before are another two things that can cause a dry fire to occur.
If your bow is dry-fired or derailed you will have to find a pro-shop in your area that has a bow press so they can put the bow back together. During this process they will check for anything that may have been damaged during the dry-firing or derailing as limbs can crack or break, cables can fray, cams can be bent, servings can break and sights and rests can even be damaged.
I have witnessed top limbs break in half and whip around and hit the archer behind the shooter when a bow was dry-fired. I have also seen people derail bows right in front of me. Sometimes I think the urge to draw the bow is just too much for the novice archer to handle.
The only way to avoid dry-firing your bow is to have a target in front of you, load an arrow in the bow and shoot the bow. This means that if you want to see how a set of cams feel, how the wall feels, if you can shoot that set weightÖ get a target, get an arrow, load the arrow and shoot the bow. Our pro-shop allows archers to try any bow they are interested in. We also put dry-fire locks on the majority of the bows to help deter novices from pulling the bows back.
I hope this helps you understand what dry-firing and derailing a compound bow means and how to avoid it. - Dana