Most people who are new to archery often struggle with this question, but its less about which is your dominant hand, and more about which is your dominant eye. Once you have identified your dominant eye then you can get the equipment that is in direct correlation to that eye. However, most people are cross dominant shooters i.e. they are right handed but they have their left eye as their dominant eye, in other words their ocular dominance is in the left eye. That being the case, you need to know that it is no easy task to train yourself how to shoot with the opposite hand. In archery school, the eye dominance is referred to as ocular dominance. The thing is most people do not realize how importance eye dominance is in their lives until they get themselves involved in this sport. Successful shooters in archery are those that can shoot a recurve that is on the same side as their dominant eye. For most cross dominant people as alluded above, it is possible to train how to shoot if you can master how to compensate for the parallax effect. Parallax can be defined as a displacement of the position of an object which has been viewed along two different lines of sight.
Importance of ocular dominance and parallax effect
It may seem so far like I am dwelling so much on eye dominance and not on what hand to shoot with. The truth of the matter is, the hand follows where the dominant eye sees. The parallax effect that it creates and how well to cover for it is what distinguishes between the most successful archers and those who are struggling. Although we use our eyes daily, we seem not to notice that there is one eye that works extremely hard than the other to provide perfect focus. We even use this eye when we want to narrow down and focus on an object. Let us take for instance a person who is right handed and his right eye is his dominant one. This individual will be more likely to experience little of no parallax effect. A cross dominant person on the other hand will experience a huge parallax effect. The parallax effect will need to be compensated in order to cover for the perceived displacement.
How to use your eye dominance to choose your archery equipment
If you do not know which of your eyes the dominant one is, you can take a simple ocular dominance test on the internet. For people who are not cross dominant find it easy to choose their archery equipment. The rule for them is RRR or LLL; right hand, right eye dominant then your bow is right hand bow. Left hands, left eye dominant then you get a left hand bow. For the rest of us who are cross dominant choosing equipment is not as easy.
How to shoot when you are cross dominant
In other sports such as football, baseball and tennis being cross dominant is actually an added advantage but in archery being cross dominant is not as advantageous. So to overcome his challenge, you need to have your dominant eye in tandem with both the arrow and the bow. So to make sure that you compensate for the parallax effect, you need to learn how to adjust your horizontal point of aim that is if you are shooting with both your eyes open. In short, that means that if you want to really aim and hot the target, depending on what side of the face your dominant eye, you will have to aim either to the left of the right side of the object. The word that is used to explain this form of aiming is windage which is the estimate of how far the deflection would be to compensate for the parallax effect. If you can master to aim like that you will find archery a very interesting sport. Some archers prefer to shoot with one eye closed, they close they non dominant eye so that to gain more focus with the dominant one. However, this technique of shooting is counterproductive because closing the eye affects the balance of the archer. That is because with one eye closed the archer fails to get the peripheral input from the surrounding area which help maintain balance.
Is it possible to train my non dominant hand to shoot?
The answer is yes. To do this however, you will need to have enough time on your hands a zeal to do it and the determination to succeed. Young people can easily be trained to learn how to use their non-dominant hand and eye to shoot and still master the skill. It would take about 200 arrows of daily routine training to successfully grasp the skill and have muscle memory developed. Adults and much older youth might find leaning this skills challenging; not because they cannot master it but because they have settled and become comfortable with the skill they have mastered over the years. They also tend to be resistant to change but they too can learn. In short we are saying you can in fact learn how to shoot with both hands regardless of what is your dominant eye or hand.
You can indeed shoot archery with either hand depending on your dominant eye. It is also possible to shoot with either hand you dominant eye not withstanding i.e. through proper training. The training is as we have established tedious and would require more than just time to train. It is easier for younger people train and master a motor skill because they have not settled in a comfort zone of their own. Training to shoot with your non dominant hand can give you extra advantages since just as we make a choice on what hand to use when eating or brushing we can train the less dominant hand to shoot and we make that choice every time we take a bow.
Archery is a bit different from other sports in that the cross dominant person finds himself disadvantaged. However, with proper training one can overcome it and actually become a competitive archer. As we have established, ocular dominance is very important when shooting and it will in most cases determine which hand to use when shooting a bow. The general rule however for people who are not cross dominant is RRR and LLL. Make sure to remember that the next time you are ordering a bow online.