Eye Dominance Approaches: Signs and Fixes

I had an exchange with a coach in dealing with eye dominance and I felt that maybe I should share with you what we did in our beginner classes.

Our Basic Approach
We did not test for eye dominance, although in our coach trainings we cover just how to do that because many coaches like to do it. Our alternative was to go with their hand dominance (if they were right-handed, we gave them a right handed bow, etc.) and then if they showed signs of struggling with this setup, we would address an eye dominance issue with those archers who showed one of the signs.

Show Me a Sign!
A beginner struggling with eye dominance will show obvious signs because of the light drawing bows they are giving. (Stouter bows would not allow much of the mishandling described below).
One sure sign is trying to draw the bow to the other side of their face. (Yes, it does happen.) Another sign is them cocking their head at an extreme angle to get their dominant eye over the arrow. The sign everybody knows is shooting off to the side (for a right-handed archer, the arrow lands feet to the left, even at short range). Because archers just beginning are often wildly inconsistent, this does not always get noticed. We have even seen young archers shooting right-handed close their right eye to “see better!”

If we see any of these signs we deal with them one-on-one. Now we have an advantage in that each beginner shoots his or her First Three Arrows under the tutelage of a single coach. And, of course, we train our coaches as to what to look for.

The Fixes, Boss, the Fixes!
You probably know many of the “fixes” for being cross dominant (eye and hand dominance opposed). These used to be a more serious consideration until the Koreans admitted they took a cross-dominant archer to the Olympic Games. In the “old days” coaches were told to assign bows based upon eye dominance and that was that.

Switch which side of the bow the archer stands upon does fix this issue and if they are going to do that, doing it sooner is better than doing it later. But, we always ask the archer what their preference is and we always go with what the archer wants. (We assume all archers are recreational Archers until proven otherwise.) we do encourage them to try the other kind of bow, but some do not even want to try and that is okay.

Easier fixes usually involve disadvantaging the dominant eye. You probably know about the “eye patch” solution. We kid archers who take this option that they are doing “Pirate Archery! Arrgh!” Well, the boys anyway (they seem to be genetically disposed to thinking pirates are cool, don’t ask me why). If the student wears eye glasses, you can also just put a strip of transparent tape across their off eye lens. The transparent tape allows light to come in, so it doesn’t affect the dilation of the pupil and therefore doesn’t obstruct light sensitivity in the other eye. Some archers take a pair of clip on sunglasses and break off the aiming eye lens. Then the aiming eye sees better than the off eye.

We have seen more than a few approaches to this “issue” and we don’t think there are any “bad ones” per se. The weaker ones are those that take a lot of time away from shooting or make shooting more complicated/frustrating because recreational archers are defined (in our book) as being motivated by having fun (and little else).

Addendum There are nuances to this discussion. For example, some people have no particular eye dominance, which is the worst case scenario because that archer’s brain has been trained to switch eyes at the drop of a hat.

Also, students with weak eye dominance may find which eye is dominant depends on the state of their fatigue, that is when they get tired, they often switch eye dominance. (I do not know why, if anyone does I would like to know.)

Interestingly, if your eyeglass prescription shows one eye to be much stronger than the other, that will almost always be your dominant eye. If the prescriptions are closer, not necessarily close, together either eye may be dominant, which means it is not determined by the strength of your eyes currently.

And if we ever get together over a beer, I will tell you the story about the time I checked the eye dominance of a guy who had a glass eye. (When I told him his eye dominance, he said “I know,” which few people do, because in his case….)


Filed under For All Coaches

3 responses to “Eye Dominance Approaches: Signs and Fixes

  1. Coach Rama.

    Hello Sir.
    For me, cross dominance is an issue mainly in my smaller archers (ages 6-8 years). Some of my older archers have this as well but a simple common sense approach can be used. Let them try with a left and right handed bow, look carefully at body physiology as they shoot and make a recommendation.
    As for eye dominance, there are up to 8 different types of tests that can be performed but many coaches go with one proven method. I don’t subscribe to the ‘one size fits all’ way of testing, as the spectre of cross dominance is always present.
    I am a coach, not an optician and as such, who am I truly to make decisions about the eyes unless I take time to go and talk to an eye expert.


    • Ah, but coach Rama, you are not making decisions about the eyes, but about what to recommend to the archer about archery. You are, as usual, wise in offering new students to opportunity to shoot both left- and right-handed.

      My point is that eye dominance is not the “be all” and “end all” of how an archer should shoot. If a young archer insists upon aiming with their less dominant eye, I will not contradict him/her. If there is a problem, it will show up. If the archer is frustrated enough (and trusts you) they will ask for help and you can offer them choices.

      Simple enough, no?

      I wish I were still up to traveling great distances. I would love to come to your country and have me show you how you run your programs.

      On Sat, Feb 22, 2020 at 10:26 PM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:




    Their altercation is unabashedly pastel! Find which is dominant depends on the old days coaches as to get noticed we don t affect the archer the off eye dominance may find which eye dominance and if we train our beginner… . We are making a web comic about this. watch trailer here: https://youtu.be/s2jpbmvsmvs


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