Marcus Valdes wrote in with this question: I was relieved that I bought the proper handed bow. Turns out my daughter is right-handed, left eye dominant. So is my wife. So should I be buying them left-handed bows?
This is where a coach needs some discernment. Just because one is cross dominant (right-handed/left-eyed or left-handed-right eyed) doesn’t mean they have to go with their dominant eye.
A good argument can be made that being cross dominant is best, even though way less than 10 percent of the populace is. That argument is you want the most important arm (the bow arm) to be your stronger arm and the most important eye (your aiming eye) to be your stronger eye. Since most people are right-right or left-left (hand-eye), this leaves them out. Only the cross dominant qualify for this setup. And then I am entirely backwards. I am right-handed and left-eye dominant and shoot right handed. (Figure it out . . . I’ll wait.) Yes, bow arm and aiming eye are both the weaker of the two.
Realize that, as a coach, you have to discern who your audience is. If I have an archer who is a gung-ho competitor, wants to be world champion, etc. I am going to treat them differently from an archer who “just wants to have fun.” If my archer is a recreational archer, I am going to use their comfort while shooting as a guide, not some theoretical best case anatomical scenario. If my archer is hell bent on winning, we will discuss how best to shoot, including the complete roles of eye dominance and handedness. (They still get to choose, which is my coaching style.) And . . . if they have been shooting for 20 years, you have to consider whether the effort required is worth the gain.
You can have the best of both world’s, though. If you have suitable low draw weight bows for them to try, let them try both ways and then they can choose what works best for them—trust me, they will have a preference. (This is also congruent with our “try before you buy” philosophy.)
Also, there are signs that one’s eye dominance is problematic (pulling the string to the wrong side of the face, shooting very wide to the left (RH archer), etc.) and we generally don’t switch beginners over until we see one of them (or the archer expresses a preference) and sometimes not even then—there are ways to cope with using one’s less dominant eye (close it half way while shooting, put a piece of cellophane tape across the glasses in front of the non-aiming eye, use an eye patch (Arrrh, pirate archery!), and there are even some commercial devices that attach to your cap or your bow sight.
Anyone else want to chime in on the role of eye dominance in beginning archery?