What is eye dominance?
Most people have a visual preference for one eye or the other, often without even realizing it. This is known as eye dominance, and it is important for you to know which eye you prefer to use before you choose a bow.
Eye dominance can be weak or strong, and does not have anything to do with hand dominance. For example, you might be right-handed but left-eye dominant. Studies show that about two-thirds of people are right-eye dominant, one-third are left-eye dominant, and a small percentage of people do not favor either eye.
Why does eye dominance matter for my first bow?
Bow makers design recurves, compounds, and traditional bows to make the best of an archer’s eye dominance. The image below will help you see the difference between left and right styled bows.
If you become confused, just think of it in terms of your drawing hand. If you are right-eye dominant, you will draw the string with your right hand. If you are left-eye dominant, you will draw with your left hand.
Shooting a bow that is the reverse of your eye dominance can be frustrating. For example, imagine that you begin shooting archery as a right-eye shooter (but you are actually left-eye dominant). Aiming seems to be harder than it should be and you have a tendency to turn your head to see out of your left eye. After several months of practice you don’t feel like you have made the progress you had hoped to make. A coach guesses the problem and gives you an eye dominance test which reveals that your left eye has been the dominant one all along.
In order to fix this problem, you would have to find a left-handed bow and re-learn all of the form. Some archers in such a situation even use eye patches to make sure they are transitioning correctly. So, it is in your best interest to make sure your first bow matches your eye dominance.
How do I know which eye is my dominant eye?
Eye dominance tests are easy:
- Go where you can see an object that is at least 10-20 ft away.
- Hold your hands out at arm’s length and make a circle about 1” in diameter.
- Keeping both eyes open, use the circle to frame the object visually.
- Making sure you can always see the object, pull your hands slowly back to your face.
- Your hands will come back naturally to your dominant eye.
In rare cases, a new archer will not feel a preference for either eye. When this happens, it is best to use the dominant hand to draw the bow.