Two Compound Codgers Talk About Aiming

I got an email from an old friend (emphasis on the old, for both of us) in which we were talking about shooting under the infirmities our advanced ages have provided us with. At one point the conversation turned to vision and peep sights and Tom said this:

Up until recently, I had to shoot with one eye closed, either the left, when shooting right handed or the right when shooting right handed.  Something has changed, because now… I cannot shoot left-handed any other way than with both eyes open. IF I close my right eye, I cannot see anything, period. Can’t find the target, can’t find the peep. I also cannot shoot at all with my glasses on. I must shoot without my glasses … which at first gives me a terrible double image until I get to anchor and look through the peep and scope. Then there are two target images, but I’ve learned to ignore the “dummy” target and focus on the correct one. The tough part is looking down range and seeing double of everything and the double is “moving” from low left to upper right.
I cannot see for beans up close to set my sight, however.
It is nice to be able to shoot with both eyes open. … after nearly 50 years of having to shoot with one eye closed!

Of course, the internet is the modern equivalent of the general store cracker or pickle barrel, so I had to chip in with my two cents on the topic:
As we age a number of things change with our eyes. One I noticed is that our irises slow down. I discover this the hard way; I was out driving at night, and my eye’s irises opened up to let in more light and then I turned a corner and a asshole driver coming the other way had his high beams on and I was blinded. I couldn’t see for a couple of seconds and was driving from memory of the road (I realized this later when I did a mental replay—thank you, archery!). Having a flood of light pouring into my eyes, my irises immediately but slowly started cinching in smaller and smaller … just in time for the return back to low illumination driving and my irises, now too small, slowly opened up again, extending the time period in which I was driving blind. This is a common source of why older people no longer like driving at night—scares the bejebus out of us.

When you swing a peep over your aiming eye, you are blocking part of the light (the reason for the danged peep in the first place), but because our irises change slowly (1-3 seconds?) compared to those in young eyes, this doesn’t happen comfortably in the time you want your shot to go off. By keeping your off eye open, the fraction of total light being blocked by the peep coming through both eyes is smaller, resulting in a smaller iris correction and better vision.

Using a peep with a smaller hole actually improves your vision by reducing the number of aiming eye lens defects the light travels through. but outdoors, in low light … well, there is a reason hunters use peeps with larger holes than do target archers. The smaller hole allows in less light and….

By the way, you can get “shooting glasses” made in which the optical centers are off to the left (for right-handed archers). We think we turn our heads 90° to look over our shoulders, but in reality, we turn our heads just far enough to see past the bridge of our noses. (Turning our heads farther results in an aching neck and headaches!). Ordinary glasses are built assuming you are looking straight outward and do not work anywhere near as well as your eyes move off of that axis.

Note Normal head rotation, according to one study is “Head-neck rotation was symmetric, and associated with concomitant movements in both the sagittal and frontal planes. It was larger in women (162°) than in men (155°), and performed with limited adjunctive thoracic motions.” This is about 77° (for men) in each direction and I think that gets less with age. (It sure feels like it to me.) Being able to turn our heads on our necks less means there is a smaller window to look through, one closer to the bridge of our noses and therefore more “off axis” for our glasses. I think I have benefited quite a bit from getting shooting glasses, which fit closer to the bridge of my nose and have optical centers in that direction.



Filed under For All Coaches

5 responses to “Two Compound Codgers Talk About Aiming

  1. Tom Dorigatti

    I am that “old Codger” discussing the serious vision changes that have occurred rapidly over the past two years.
    With regard to shooting glasses, my particular prescription makes it next to impossible for the opthamologist to plop the sweet spot closer to my nose because my lenses are actually prisms. Very thin lenses on the side closest to my nose and very thick on the opposing side.
    Several years back, before my prescription changed radically, I had a set of custom glasses made where the “sweet spot” for distance vision was “cut” into two places: one down the middle so I could see, and one sweet spot in the upper left corner of the RIGHT lens. It worked after a fashion and did help me to maintain my head position and not dip my chin or push my nose down into the bowstring…after a fashion.
    However, I was forced to go back to left handed and when the person that made my custom lense several years ago got my new prescription, he said he can’t do it for my LEFT eye.
    Thus, I ended up shooting totally without glasses and finally, after 50 years, I must shoot with BOTH eyes open. I don’t like the double vision thing, but once I come into the peep site, I can ignore the double image and focus through the peep site, the scope and on to the target. I also do NOT fuzz out without the glasses like I used to fuzz out with glasses if I held too long.
    Of course, I MUST have either my glasses or cheaters handy if/when I need to change my site setting or do any sort of close up work.
    Even a task as simple as nocking the arrow on the bowstring is difficult because my up close vision without glasses is terribly blurry.
    We do what we have to do, I guess.
    Another interesting thing is that target clarity through my scope is much clearer WITHOUT the prescription glasses than it is with the prescription glasses, if I can see at all with the glasses on.
    Ain’t getting old and decrepit a pain in the butt (literally and figuratively)?
    I’m due to get my eyes checked again and I would bet there is going to be another prescription change to go along with being 2 years older.


  2. David Beeton

    So we take a page out of the Target Shooters Bible and try using a “blinder”. Look at the elite pistol and rifle shooters when they compete. The use of a TRANSLUCENT blinder, not a dense eye-shade, breaks up the unwanted image and allows light to reach the non-shooting eye, without causing a reflexive opening of the irises. I also wear glasses so I have a set of distance lenses, the “non-shooting” lens has a layer of very lightly abraded or translucent plastic film (in my case cut from a file binder), added to the inside of the lens and it allows almost full daylight to enter the eye without giving a discernible image of the sights in the non-shooting eye. The added advantage is that, with the pupils at a “normal” setting, as closed as the light level require, the depth of focus is improved, giving a far better depiction of the target and the sight elements. If you are a photographer, you will often use the phenomenum to alter your depth of focus, deliberately, to emphasise a particular part of a scene, and we can do the same!


    • There are all kinds of such gimmicks to try. The cheapest I saw was someone who put transparent tape on the lens of his glasses that served his off eye. It allowed in light, but not a clear image. I don’t know the cost of a 1″ piece of Scotch tape, but I think this is the way for cheapskates to go.

      On Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 2:44 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



      • Tom Dorigatti

        When I was shooting right handed, I didn’t use a blinder…but I did take tape and place it in the upper left corner of the lens in my glasses…cut a hole in it with a paper punch so that the placement was such that I got the clear part of the lens as close to the same spot in my lens for head position!
        With my lenses being prisms, even a slight misalignment in up/down, left/right with my head position in relation to peep alignment and it produced a different impact point!
        I even did this with the special shooting glasses I had made up to cut down on the “error”. It worked after a fashion. I don’t like kisser buttons because that is one more thing to move or come loose at the wrong place and time…and it interferes with the use of a bow square.
        I’ve done the tape trick with the opposing lens too, and still got vertigo.


      • One of my pet peeves is the lack of a coaching literature. One such piece of literature should be a compilation of “things tried.” Your innovation brings to mind a great many things I did (building overdraws, building an arrow saw out of a Dremel Tool, building sight apertures, etc.) You have done a great deal more and others have as well, but there is no place an archer can go to find a list of things people have tried to “Block off the Dominant Non-Aiming Eye”. I would bet there are hundreds of things that have been tried and each of them may be attractive to an archer now and then. It is not a matter of finding the “best” way, but to offer an array of choices that appeal physically and psychologically to archers.

        On Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 10:43 AM, A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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