Eye & Hand Dominance in Archery

There are some aspects that are more crucial to your archery mastery and have a direct impact on the fitment of a bow to your. Among these aspects are the eye and hand dominance in archery.

In the following guide, I’ll walk you through all the details you need to know about your dominant hand and eye and how to manage them in your favor.

This enables you to choose the right type of bow for your liking, so you can make the most out of that investment. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Am I Left-Eye or Right-Eye Dominant in Archery?

Eye dominance might not be the most important thing to know about while carrying on your daily routine. Yet, it becomes extremely crucial if you’re practicing an aiming sport like archery.

In fact, utilizing your eye dominance in archery can give you a huge dominance over your opponents. Not only that but it can also help you get adapted to your bow much quicker and easier.

For that reason, it’s highly critical that you find your dominant eye and learn how to use it to your favor in archery.

Eye Dominance

Before diving into the juicy stuff, let’s clear out some important terms and things you should know about.

Just like your hand dominance, you might also be favoring one eye over the other without even knowing. This phenomenon is known as “ocular dominance”, but can be also called “eyedness” or simply “eye preference”.

It’s usually defined as the brain’s tendency to receive the visual input mainly either through your right eye or through the left eye.

Although both hemispheres of your brain control both eyes, each side of your brain takes control over a different eye. Each side dominates the eye on the other half. For example, the right hemisphere controls the left eye where the left hemisphere controls the right one.

This is the same reason everyone is different regarding right or left-handedness. However, one thing you should know is that eye dominance is somewhat associated with hand dominance patterns.

In fact, many people happen to be cross dominant. This means that they have different eye dominance from handedness. For example, a cross-dominant person will be a right-handed person but with a dominant left eye, and vice versa.

To limit the distraction and reduce the workload of the eye, our brain experiences a phenomenon known as “parallax effect”.

The parallax effect is the difference in the apparent position of an object that is seen with two lines of sight.

In other words, since each eye is seeing an object from a different distance and angles, the true position of a far-away object is altered.

You can observe this phenomenon by viewing an object with one eye closed then momentarily switching to the other eye while closing the first.

Finding Your Dominant Eye

Now that you know more about eye dominance, it’s time to find yours!

Unfortunately, eye dominance isn’t as straightforward as hand dominance, especially if you can’t tell the difference between the level of eyesight between your eyes.

Here are some simple methods that can help you find your dominant eye. The results of all these methods should be the same. So, you should do all of them as a form of extra confirmation.

Static Miles Test

  1. Extend both arms directly in front of your body on shoulder height.
  2. Get your hands closer to each other to form overlapping fingers and thumbs creating a small triangle.
  3. Choose a small-sized object that’s at least 5 to 8 steps away from you, and look at it through the formed triangle with both eyes open.
  4. Without changing the position of your hand close the right eye, and notice what happens to the object
  5. Open both your eyes again
  6. Similar to step 4, close the left eye and take note of what happens

Ideally, when you closed one of your eyes, the object remained in place. This one is your dominant eye.

One the other hand, when you closed the other eye, the object disappeared and changed its position out of your small triangle. This is the non-dominant eye.

Moving Miles Test

  1. Extend both arms directly in front of your body on shoulder height.
  2. Get your hands closer to each other to form overlapping fingers and thumbs creating the same small triangle in the first test.
  3. Focus on the same object again from the same distance with both your eyes open.
  4. While maintaining the same triangle and both eyes open, draw your hands closer to your face. Make sure to keep the object in question within the small triangle.

Once your hands touch your face, you’ll notice that the view window is automatically drawn to one of the eyes. This one is the dominant one.

Porta Test

  1. Extend one fist directly in front of your body on shoulder height.
  2. Raise your thumb up and align it on a small object within 10 feet while keeping both eyes open.
  3. Close one eye and take note of the object’s location.
  4. Open both eyes again.
  5. Close the other eye and take note of the object’s location.

Similar to the static miles test, the object remains in place with the dominant eye and changes with the non-dominant one.

How to Tell if a Bow is Left Handed or Right Handed?

First, you should know that most modern bows, whether they’re compound or recurve, are designed to be either left-handed or right-handed. So, you’ll need to find the ideal one for you.

Telling a right-handed bow from a left-handed bow apart might be difficult for a beginner. However, with this simple trick, you’ll know which one is which.

Above the handle area where you grip a bow is a place called the arrow rest. As the name suggests, this is the area where the area sits prior to shooting it.

While holding the bow with either hand and extending your arm, you’ll notice this arrow rest area isn’t centered.

If a bow is designed to be right-handed, you’ll find the arrow rest area on the right side of the bow. If it’s a left-handed one, this means it’s a left-handed bow.

It goes without saying that a right-handed bow is designed to be used by a right-handed person. Similarly, a left-handed bow should be used by a left-handed person.

The problem is, you use both hands while holding the bow, so you might not be able to tell which hand is the one in question here.

Which Hand Do I Hold a Bow With in Archery?

As you already know, there are two types of bows for each hand, in this section, I’ll discuss which hand you should use to hold the bow while shooting.

Now that you’ve found your dominant eye, it’s time to link it up with archery and how you hold a bow.

In fact, a right-handed bow is supposed to be held by your left hand. Similarly, you should hold your left-handed bow with your right hand.

Which Hand Do I Draw Back a Bow With?

Ideally, you should draw the string back with the hand similar to your dominant eye. In other words, if your right eye is the dominant one and you’re right-handed, you should draw back the bow with your right hand as well.

If you’re left-handed with a dominant left hand, you should pull the strings with your left hand, all the while holding the bow with your left hand.

By doing this you’ll be also utilizing the strength of your dominant arm to pull back the string. This allows you to maximize the draw distance, which translates into further shots with higher accuracy!

What If I’m Right Handed and Left-eyed? (or Left-Handed & Right-Eyed)

In the previous sections, I discussed how you should hold and draw a bow if both your hands and eyes are aligned in terms of dominance. So, what should you do if you’re cross-dominant? Let’s find out!

The first thing that you should know is that your dominant eye actually matters a lot more than your dominant hand for a wide variety of reasons.

Ocular Dominance and Parallax Effect in Archery

In your daily routine, you’ll use both your eyes comfortably, so you might as well take both effects for granted. Also, the parallax effect isn’t a huge deal within things that are at our arm’s reach.

However, in archery, these phenomena are extremely crucial and play a critical role. This happens because you’ll most likely need to focus one eye on your target.

The best-case scenario here is to have simultaneous dominance between your hands and eyes. This means that your eye and hand are both dominant on the same side, whether they’re left or right-handed.

If that’s your case, you’re among the lucky few, as most people are cross dominant. This allows you to minimize the parallax effect as much as possible, which is essential for archery.

However, you can still shoot arrows accurately if you learn how to minimize your eye dominance effect. But more on that later.

You always want your dominant eye to be in line with the target, at the same time, you want the string and arrow shaft to be in line with the hand and eye for accurate shots.

If your dominant eye is on the other side of your dominant hand and you shoot with both eyes open, your shots will always be highly inaccurate.

Methods to Overcome Cross Dominance

Being cross-dominant in archery puts you in a slight disadvantage due to this parallax effect. However, this problem is easy to overcome using some simple methods.

Train the Non-Dominant Hand

If you’re cross-dominant, the first thing you should remember is that it’s much easier to train your nondominant hand. In that case, you’ll hold the bow with your dominant hand and aim with your dominant eye, which is the most important thing.

Use a Bow in Opposite Direction

You can also shoot a right-handed bow left-handed. In fact, with consistent training, you might be accurate at it.

However, you won’t benefit from the arrow rest, as it’ll be on the wrong side, so you’ll need to compensate for it while aiming.

This can be a bit tedious if done on a regular basis, that’s why I don’t recommend you follow this method unless you have no other choice.

What if I’m Ambidextrous?

Being ambidextrous means that you’re able to use both your hands equally while giving similar results. First, you have to check your archery ambidexterity. You might be ambidextrous while writing but not equally well while shooting an arrow.

If you’re ambidextrous and have no trouble using the bow with both hands, it’s advisable that you follow your eye dominance while using the bow.

That said, if your right eye is the dominant one, you should hold the bow with the left hand and pull the string with the right one and vise versa.

Should I Aim with Both Eyes Open or Just One Eye?

Yes, the majority of professional archers aim with both their eyes open. However, you should know that it works for some archers but not all.

If you’re cross dominant, the parallax effect might make it much more difficult to find the actual target’s location. In that case, you should try closing one eye and see if it works for you.

Which Eye Do I Aim with (or Both?)?

Ideally, you always need to aim with the dominant eye and never both eyes. It takes a bit of time in practice to train your dominant eye to take over. However, this will guarantee the highest level of accuracy.

The only case where you can aim with both eyes is by being ambidextrous in vision. You can find this while performing the previous tests.

If the location of the object doesn’t change in both situations, you’re among the lucky few who have what’s informally known as “central vision”.

This means that both your eyes have a similar level of dominance, so you’ll be able to use either one while shooting with a bow and arrow.

Wrap Up

If you’re a beginner in the archery world, there are some decisions that you’ll have to make.

These ones can be purely based on your personal preference, including bow and arrow styles, colors, fletchings, accessories, and more. Yet, when it comes to hand and eye dexterity, there are some rules that you should follow.

So, there you have it! A complete guide about eye and hand dominance in archery and what you should do about them.

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