shoot (one's) bolt
To exhaust oneself doing some task and thus struggle to complete it. Try to pace yourself—if you shoot your bolt now, you'll never make it through all 18 holes.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
shoot (one's) boltSlang
To do all within one's power; exhaust all of one's resources or capabilities.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
shoot one's bolt, to
To have tried one’s utmost; to have spent all of one’s resources. This term comes from medieval archery and was a well-known proverb by the early thirteenth century: “A fool’s bolt is soon shot.” The bolt was a short, heavy, blunt-headed arrow fired with a crossbow, and the archer who used up all his bolts at once, leaving him with none, was regarded as a fool. The modern (twentieth-century) counterpart is to shoot one’s wad. This term comes from gambling, the “wad” in question being a roll of bank notes, but it has likewise been extended to mean spending all of one’s resources. Bernard Malamud used the expression (Tenants, 1971): “I want to be thought of as a going concern, not a freak who had published a good first novel and shot his wad.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer