Archery requires precision; both precision in equipment and precision in personal performance. In order to achieve accurate and consistent shots, this is imperative. You can tune your bow and equipment for optimal performance, so you also want to make sure you yourself are tuned to proper performance. Part of this, is making sure you are shooting with your dominant eye. Some people may be surprised to find out they are in fact not shooting on the side of their dominant eye. Are you?
What is a Dominant Eye?
Your dominant eye is the one that provides slightly more input to your brain in forming images from what is in front of you. This is the eye that relays slightly more accurate information of your surroundings. While both eyes of most people function well as a team and have similar visual acuity, the dominant eye is the preferred or favored of the two. Just like your two hands, nothing is ever really created equal.
Unlike your dominant hand, which everyone already knows, many people are unaware of their dominant eye. Except for a few visual driven sports and activities, knowing your dominant eye is not an essentially important part of everyday life. There is simply not a need to really know your dominant eye in most circumstances.
However, in the sport of archery, knowing your dominant eye is essential to proper performance. For some who may be shooting from their non-dominant eye and not know it, this knowledge could vastly improve their shooting. For someone looking to buy a bow, this is imperative knowledge to have before purchasing. Now, how do you go about telling if you are right or left eye dominant? Let’s look a little deeper into it.
How to Determine your Dominant Eye
Your dominant hand is a natural thing to determine, judged simply by which hand “feels better”, and more importantly writes better. Your dominant eye is not so intuitive to know. To determine this, there is a simple test you can quickly do to find the answer.
Through this quick and easy dominant eye test, you will know in a few seconds. Simply extend your arms straight out in front of you. Cross your hands so you create a triangle shaped viewfinder on an object 10 or more feet away. Focus your attention this object.
Without thinking too much about it, slowly bring your hands toward your face while maintaining focus on the object. Your hands should naturally gravitate toward one of your two eyes so long as you don’t think about it. This should indicate your dominant eye. Try to test a few times to insure you get consistent results with this particular dominant eye test.
Can Both Eyes be Dominant?
The short answer? No. Although some people may report co-dominant eyes, it really is not possible. Nothing is ever made truly equal, and the same goes for even your own two eyes. One eye will always be slightly preferred over the other.
What can vary is how big of a difference this preference is. For some people, their dominant eye is highly preferred, for others, the preference is slighter. In some of these situations, some people may believe that both eyes are equal. Though if you test further, you will always find one eye to have dominance over the other eye.
Does it Relate to your Dominant Hand?
In vastly general terms? Yes. For most people, their dominant hand is on the same side as their dominant eye. However, this is a generalization and is not always true. For some people, cross-dominance is a reality. Cross dominance simply refers to when your dominant eye is on the opposite side of your dominant hand. These are typically the type of people that may benefit significantly from knowing your dominant eye.
For some people, they will begin to shoot according to their dominant hand. Only to later find out they are actually cross dominant, complicating matters. For archers of all skill levels, the sooner you know your dominant eye, the better. Trying to switch sides later on in the sport will certainly present it’s challenges, but I have seen it done.
Should you Shoot According to your Hand or your Eye Dominance?
Now let’s say you find out you are actually cross dominant. Can a left eye dominant person shoot a right-handed bow? Sure they can. I am sure this is happening to more people than they may realize and they get by just fine. So long as you practice and get used to it you can make it happen.
With that said, to optimize your precision and shooting ability, you really should be shooting on the side of your dominant eye. For some people, this may mean shooting a bow with their non-dominant hand. This can feel awkward and weird at first but I have seen people make the transition.
My advice, and the advice of many other archers, would be to insure that you are shooting from your dominant eye side. In the long run, this is the correct way to shoot and will make you a better archer
Can you Shoot your Bow both Left and Right Handed?
For most bows, particularly modern compound bows, this is simply not possible. Bows are typically designed to be able to shoot an arrow from only one side of the bow. There is usually a “rest” or “shelf” cut into the bow that is on the opposite side of the dominant hand.
How do you tell the difference between a right and left-handed bow? For a right-handed bow, the rest or shelf will be on the left side. Vice versa for left handed bows. The same is true for most modern longbows and recurves.
Unfortunately, it is simply not possible to shoot a bow both right and left handed. If you ended up determining you are cross dominant and shooting from the wrong eye, it might be best to just cut your losses and just go get a new bow to correlate to the dominant eye.
What about an Eye Patch?
What if you are really ingrained in your ways and have been shooting form your non-dominant eye side for a while? At this point in your career you may not want to switch sides. Utilizing an archery eye patch might help.
Some people who are shooting on their non-dominant eye side cover their dominant eye with an eye patch. They report this to help overcome some of the obstacles of shooting from your non-dominant eye side.
By covering your eye with an eye patch, you can still remain relaxed with both eyes open while not allowing your dominant eye to take over. There are many reports of success with this, but it really is best just to shoot from your dominant eye side if you are still newer to the sport.
Where else Does Eye Dominance Matter?
It seems as though most people outside of archery are unaware of eye-dominance. However, there are a few other sports and hobbies where eye dominance comes into play.
Sports require lots of visual acuity on the part of the player. Part of the coordination required to throw a ball comes from proper and acute vision. Eye dominance comes into play for players throwing a ball and similar situations of cross-dominance can influence players.
Surprisingly enough, eye dominance also comes into play in photography. This is not intuitive knowledge for many photographers. By determining the dominant eye, photographers can be quicker and more accurate in focusing through their camera lens and getting that million dollar shot.
Of course, eye dominance comes into play in other shooting sports beyond archery. When shooting all types of firearms, from handguns to muzzleloaders, eye dominance is key. This is particularly the case for quick point and shoot applications generally seen in handgun shooting and shotgun bird hunting. Thankfully, most guns can feasibly be shot in both a right and left-hand configuration. However, this may make the function of the gun a bit awkward at times.
By now, I hope you have already determined which eye is dominant if you didn’t already know. In such a visually precise sport such as archery, this knowledge is key. Just remember, in archery, it is eye dominance that takes precedence over hand dominance. Have fun out there and safe shooting!