Dry-Firing the Bow - The Warrior's Journey®
Post Traumatic Stress

Dry-Firing the Bow

Returning fire. Photo by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC By 2.0

A Christian psychologist once said that holding back emotion is like dry-firing a bow.

So I asked a friend who is an expert bow hunter about that. He told me emphatically, “Don’t ever dry-fire a bow, especially a wooden bow. The bow isn’t designed to absorb the energy it creates. That energy is reserved for the arrow. Eventually the bow will shatter into pieces if you dry-fire.”

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed against him’; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:1-6, NKJV).

Our bodies are like the bow, and our emotions are like arrows. When we experience emotions, they have to be released, or we become like that dry-fired bow and risk shattering ourselves. When we do release our emotions, they must hit the right target. Otherwise, we run the risk of “shooting” our emotional “arrows” at the people around us, instead of at the right target. And our family, friends, or co-workers get hurt. Later we kick ourselves, saying, “What a fool I was. They did not deserve that!” There must be a better way to handle our feelings!

Can you sense the emotion revealed in Psalm 13? Do you see the depth of the pain? The writer held nothing back, but expressed it all to God. There is wisdom here for all people, but especially for warriors, who often experience strong emotions.

In the psalm, David released his emotions towards God. David had felt abandoned, but after telling God how he felt, signs of health returned. Did you notice the clarity of mind, hope, and peace in verses five and six?

There are a few lessons you can learn from this psalm.

First, it is better to pursue healthy ways of dealing with your emotions, learning how to handle them, rather than stifling them, ignoring them, or exploding.

Second, recognize that your emotions are designed by your Creator to serve as a barometer of your internal condition. Listen to what the emotions are telling you, or ask yourself, “Why is this situation or person bothering me so much?”

Third, be willing to talk about your emotions to the people closest to you. It will help them understand what you’re going through and can draw you closer, developing more meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

If you handle your emotions well, your bow won’t shatter and you won’t wound others with deadly arrows!


The content of this article comes from “The Warrior’s Bible” (2014) and is copyrighted by Life Publishers International. Used with permission.

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