One of the first factors that needs to be addressed is whether to buy a left-handed or right-handed bow. Instead of focusing on if you are right-handed or left-handed, a buyer should determine which eye is dominant. Just because you are right-handed doesn’t mean you’re right eye dominant. Dan Ellyson of A1 Archery in Hudson, WI says left eye dominant archers should buy left-handed bows even if they are right handed. It sounds difficult but Ellyson says it really isn’t. “Once you teach someone who is right-handed but left eye dominant to shoot left-handed they become much better shots. You really want to shoot with both eyes open.”
The problems develop when looking through a peep sight with a non-dominant eye. Ellyson says many archers won’t notice a big problem when practicing. However, under high pressure situations such as a big buck walking into range, the dominant eye often takes over. Ellyson stresses looking through the sight with the wrong eye could lead to a catastrophic miss while hunting. “If you’re looking through your peep sight with the wrong eye, the other will take over.” The bottom line is all archers should shoot a bow that matches their dominant eye.
There are a few easy ways to figure out which of your eyes is dominant. Ellyson likes to use the Thumbs Up technique. Focus on an object about twenty feet away and raise your arm up so that your thumb covers the object. Your thumb should look out of focus as you continue to look at the distant object. Then close your left eye. If the your thumb does not appear to move and continues to cover the object, you are right eye dominant. If it looks like your thumb moved, you are left eye dominant.
It is a simple process but sometimes it is difficult to explain to children. When fitting youngsters for their first bow Ellyson uses a small bottle. He puts the bottle on a table and tells the child there is something at the bottom of it. The child will instinctively put the bottle up to their dominant eye. You can use a soft drink can or any other small container. This technique also works for stubborn adults.
Ellyson says about ten percent of left handers he tests are right eye dominant with a higher percentage of right-handed people who are left eye dominant. Archers with this unfortunate trait not only spend time and money shooting a bow that isn’t right for them, they may miss out on the trophy of a lifetime because of it. For this reason Ellyson tests all of his customers before selling them a bow. He says learning to shoot an opposite handed bow isn’t as difficult as you would think. He believes those shooting opposite handed bows actually become better archers because they tend to work a little harder and focus better.