While rare, I assume that compound bows with metal limbs do occasionally suffer limb failures. Is that correct, and if so What is the effect of a cocked metal bow limb fracturing?

I'm trying to picture the dissipation of stresses and one scenario I envision is the fractured limb getting whipped around the shooter by the other limb, causing severe string burns and lacerations.

1 Answer 1


The forces are really trying to pull the ends of the bow forward. The bow string is not elastic and so does not store energy. The end of the bow may snap back and hit you uncomfortably, but it's not going to whip back at amazing speeds. The arm will basically just let go, and the stem and other arm will get flung by the stores energy. However. You should have a good grip on the stem of the bow, so although it may be surprising, it shouldn't go too far as the bow isn't very heavy and thus you don't have a lot of inertia to overcome.

I think a bowstring snapping would be more dangerous because it would be like a whip, and may hit you in a very inconvenient place such as your face and eye, and may try to rip skin of your fingers as it's ripped through them.

  • A limb breaking on a recurve is very much whip like, happened to a friend of mine who I was standing next to. I'm not sure if a compound is different as I have never used one, or seen one break.
    – Dynadin
    Nov 18, 2015 at 19:34
  • +1 A quick search on youtube found videoes supporting this answer. youtube.com/watch?v=t5vcY6qC6xc youtube.com/watch?v=AJoxJJjcQFU youtube.com/watch?v=EfUrEyo3Z3o Maybe add some to your answer? Nov 18, 2015 at 20:17
  • note that the usual recommended target archery form has the grip on the bow so nonexistent that a sling is almost required to prevent the bow bouncing out of the hand on release. With a proper sling, you're unlikely to lose what's left of the bow, but that's not because of a good grip.
    – Leliel
    Jun 24, 2018 at 0:36

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