How Important is Eye Dominance When Starting New Archers?

If you are working with an adult beginner, by all means do an eye dominance check as it may stave off problems. But when working with young beginners, well . . . we didn’t.

The reasons are straightforward. #1 there is a lot happening, this check would add to it. #2 Our strategy is to get them shooting ASAP. #3 They probably don’t know enough about their bodies to make an informed decision as to whether to shoot right-handed or left-handed.

When we start a beginning class, we start by teaching them one-on-one. We call this process The First Three Arrows and we train our coaches in how to administer it. While we are teaching them the basics of shooting arrows from a bow, that is not our primary objective. Our primary objective is to determine whether they can follow directions well enough to be trusted on a shooting line. Any child who doesn’t “get it” with their first arrows we send to a side butt where another coach walks them through it again. If after two tries we don’t think they can be trusted with a weapon in their hands in a group setting, we suggest to his parents that he try again next year and we refund their fee.

Those that pass through this process (takes about 20 minutes max) we set up on the shooting line, explain the whistle system and off we go. (We do not let them pull arrows until the second session.)

Handling Eye Dominance for the Young
So, how do we train our coaches to see eye dominance issues. There are two clues. One is an archers arrows flying way off to the side (bow side), but usually this happens (see photo below):

Can you see it? This is very common. The archer’s head is tilted to get the “off eye” lined up with the arrow. The “normal aiming eye” is often shut. Once you see this behavior, you know you have a child with an eye dominance issue that needs to be treated now. We offer the option of shooting “the other way” (after much positive talk). But if that is not desired we urge them to keep their dominant eye closed. We have eye patches they can wear, after we warn them about being popular because they are learning “pirate archery” (Arrrh.).

How do you deal with this?


Filed under For All Coaches

6 responses to “How Important is Eye Dominance When Starting New Archers?

  1. Dave Beeton

    Pretty much the same way! i also have an alignment issue so I always shoot with a “blinder”, a hang over from target rifle days. I just have a pair of single lenses made (as the second pair in a deal with a well-known high street optician), and “obscure” one lens with a piece of translucent plastic from a binder. i also have a couple of sets of patches and old frames, that kids or adults can use. If they have any issues with changing hand, I can offer them a patch or a set of frames and see how they get on. By using translucent plastic sheet, you help to prevent the shooting eye from trying to compensate for the lack of light in a “closed” eye. As it tries to open up, it tends to reduce the depth of focus/field in the shooting eye.


    • If the child wears glasses we can put a strip of transparent tape (actually translucent tape) on the lens of the dominant eye, which can then be removed at the end of the session.


      • David Beeton

        Yes, that works as well, though some parents are a bit wary when you start taping up little Hermione’s glasses! 🤣


      • :o) We require a parent/guardian to be present at all lessons and run everything by them. (Saves oodles of misunderstandings.)

        On Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 8:42 AM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  2. Burren Archery

    They are Easton axis 5mm

    Kind regards,
    Martin Cooney








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