Dominant Eye Training

To reach your potential in any “shooting” sport your eye dominance must take precedence over your dominant handedness. Do not assume your eye dominance is your hand dominance. If you do not know your eye dominance, read my earlier blog about how to check. Samantha asked….

I took archery lessons a few years ago. I own three bows, a compound, re-curve, and a crossbow. But one thing I never thought about until after I stopped taking lessons was eye dominance. I soon found out that I was left eye dominant, but I am right handed. So I have been having trouble hitting the target since my dominant eye is not the one being used to aim. This has been making it difficult and a little frustrating. I have tried left handed bows so my dominant eye was focused down the arrow shaft but it made it even harder to steady and was uncomfortable. Do you have any suggestions on things that could help my aiming? I do not wear eye glasses or contacts. I have had my eyes checked very recently and was told that I had great vision.

If your hand and eye dominance match, you are very lucky. It is important to note that level of dominance can vary from person to person. For some archers it is very difficult to tell the difference and in some cases your eye dominance can change, although that usually happens at a young age. My little brother’s eye dominance changed when he was 8 after a year of archery lessons with a right-handed bow.

For those archers that end up cross-dominant (left–eye dominant and right-handed or vice versa), it can be extremely frustrating, especially for those who take it up later in life since you have already developed your dominant handedness.

Some archers try to force the eye to match their handedness and end-up very frustrated. Trust me you will be far more frustrated trying to force your eye dominance than training your body to do the tasks with your other hand. It may start out unsteady and uncomfortable but it will get better with practice.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

To help train your body to shoot with your dominant eye, you need to add extra practice using resistance bands to develop the muscles. Also If your eye-dominance is closer to the middle or you have switched recently; shoot with an eye-patch on the less dominant eye to help train yourself to aim using the dominant eye.

The key to achieving success is purely perseverance. Although it can be costly to purchase another bow, you need to match your shooting to your eye dominance.  My coach was already a successful archer before she discovered her eye dominance was incorrect. She changed and became even more accomplished and never regrets the work she had to do.

Consistency – The Importance of Eye Dominance

Most people know if they are right-handed or left-handed.  Do you know your eye dominance?

For most people your hand dominance matches your eye dominance; however, this is not always the fact, some people are cross dominant. Assuming you are right-eye dominant because you are right-handed can lead to a lot of undue frustration.   In a sport like archery where aim and accuracy is important, if you want to move to the elite level of competition, identifying your eye dominance is very important. If you are shooting with your non-dominant eye, or wrong eye, you will be aiming at the “wrong” target and you will become very frustrated, as you will never achieve an elite level of consistency. Luckily, it can be very easy to determine your eye-dominance.

A simple method that can be preformed on yourself is…

  1. Cut a hole in the center of a piece of paper
  2. Keeping both eyes open, center the hole over an object about 15-20 feet away  at arms length.
  3. Keeping both eyes open, slowly move the piece of paper towards your face.

The piece of paper will naturally move towards your dominant eye.

Another method with the help of a friend is…

  1. Standing 15-20 feet apart and keeping both eyes open, point at your friend and position one of your fingers on your right-hand over your friends eyeball
  2. Keeping both eyes open, repeat with your left hand finger
  3. Repeat several times and ask your friend which eye was your fingers over.

Once you know your eye dominance you can select the proper handed bow for you. Remember, right-handed archers hold their bow with their left hand and draw the string to their right eye. Left-handed archers do the opposite.  Please keep in mind that very young archers can change eye dominance through natural and normal growth and development, however few ever change back.