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.

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Vision – Glasses, Contacts and Archery

Being an archer, competitive or recreational, does not require perfect 20/20 vision. E Perez asked…

I’m not sure if you’ve worn glasses before but if so, do you have any suggestions on archers who used glasses and are now switching to contacts? I’ve recently switched from glasses to contacts and my aiming is way off!

I can relate to this question, when I started shooting I had 20/20 vision, and around high school I needed glasses. I have not tried contacts yet, however it was an adjustment. Remember, the purpose of a corrective lens helps refract the light or images into in focus so you can see. Check out this website that explains how your vision works and how corrective lenses affect vision.

Wearing glasses or contacts can sometimes be a challenge for archers, since we actually stand to the side of the bow, not directly behind it. Therefore we are always viewing things on an angle, add the complexity of a corrective lens and it may be difficult to clearly focus on the target. It depends on the strength and thickness of the corrective lenses. I have a friend who can not shoot with her contacts on. The angle of the bow, combined with the angle of her contacts and she can not see her string alignment at all, which can affect your group.

Picking glasses out also presents a challenge because of the angle of the lenses and the thickness of the frames. My sister can not shoot with her prescription glasses because the frames are too large for the angle of the bow and she can not see her string alignment. If you need corrective lenses, it may take some trial and error experimenting to find out what works best for you.

I’ve recently switched from glasses to contacts and my aiming is way off!

If you are able to see the target and string alignment in focus, consider your arrow groupings.

Groups open up: Your brain could be simply catching up with your new perception, give it some time and practice. If the groups do not get better, then try shooting with your glasses on again and comparing the results.

Groups still tight; just off center: Move the sight. Even the smallest change can affect everything else, your vision is a large change.

Moved your sight; no change: Check your form, since many things can affect your your arrows including plucking the string.

Vision is important however not as important as good form. In fact, you may have read my earlier blog about legally blind South Korean archer, Im Dong-hyun, who broke the world record at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Im Dong-hyun has only about 20% vision in his right eye and only 10% in his left eye.

Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them – Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars

Your vision is important, however you may want to focus on making sure the shot “feels” the same every time, this is the key to success. For me, my coach still insists everyone warm-up with the following exercise to help us focus on feel not vision.

Close-Open-Close Warm-up 

  1. Close your eyes and draw your bow to full draw; focusing on your form. Try to make sure all your muscles and bones are in the same position with the same amount of pressure
  2. Quickly open your eyes to move the sight to the target
  3. Close your eyes and then shoot.

I hope I have provided some guidance and answered your question. If any other readers have experienced changes from moving to contacts from glasses, we would love to hear from you.

Getting Started in Archery

Archery is one of the best sports because it can be social, competitive, fun, and casual, you just need to decide what you want to get out of it.  Recently the interest in archery has sky-rocketed since the movies the Hunger Games, Brave and the Avengers.

Archery is so popular that Britain right now, with London Olympics finishing recently,  MPs are demanding its return and politicians have participated in training sessions with current and future Olympians.

This is not a local phenomenon either, there are tons of articles throughout North America about the increased interest in Archery. I am sure there are even more throughout the world since I have seen a lot of blogs about people who have or want to give it a try and I have also seen a lot of questions and comments about how to get started.

Well, here is a quick simple step-by-step guide.

  1. Find a archery club : Archery clubs exist everywhere; your school may even have an archery club. You can also contact your provincial, state or national archery organization. Most Provincal Sports Organization (PSO) or National Sports Organization (NSO) are now online and they will either have a listing of clubs or you can contact them directly for one
  2. Setup a take a beginner class or a private lesson : Most clubs offer regular lessons for both beginner and advanced archers. Alternatively you can contact a private coach, like myself, and setup a private session.

It’s that simple and once you have tried archery; you’ll be hooked.

Since, the hardest part about getting started in archery is finding information. Check out my links page for links to Ontario, Canada, USA, and International organizations to help you find an archery club close to you.  Once started, you can talk with your club or coach and they can provide some insight on how you can get the most out of archery.