my racket flew out of my hand tonight, and the shaft looked pretty bad from first glance. When I took a closer look, though, the outer layer of the shaft was cracked open, but the insides looked fine. Is this racket still usable? It's a good racket, and it's old one, at least 20 years old, and I'd hate for it to be put out of commission because of my stupidity
Your racket is most probably dead ... I had my apacs tantrum 200 shaft cracked just like yours after a hard smash and after that I use it just for recreational play with my wife. After a few sessions with it the shaft broke and flew over the other side during a simple stroke. Watch out ... you may kill someone with it. Im lucky my wife did not asked me for a divorce.
You should do the right thing & retire it. It's dangerous - especially to others - to play with damaged racquet. With the amount of power we use in our swings, a snapped racquet is a very fast & dangerous flying hazard.
Damages on the head are less dangerous as if the frame snapped, the racquet would implode as the strings are pulling it in. Damages (other than cosmetical scratch) on the shaft means that the racquet shouldn't be used.
There's a thread here called "killed in action" or some such filled with horror stories .