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Cross Dominance Conundrum

by David
(New Jersey)

I am a 24 year old male, and I used to shoot when I was younger, but stopped after I became a long distance runner. I am strongly right handed but my left eye is also much stronger than my right. Normally I would gladly take up the challenge of trying to switch arms, however, there is a slight problem.

I am 5'9" and very thin approx 120 lbs. and my right arm is much stronger than my left arm. So much so, that there is a serious discrepancy between what I can do with my left vs. my right (i.e. pull a bow back).

I am not sure how to approach this problem. When I was younger I always shot with my right eye closed, and had trouble compensating for the parallax. I feel that if I were a "normal" sized young adult, this wouldn't be as much of an issue, but because I am thin, I feel a bit lost.

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Consider your first bow to be your training bow and keep the draw weight light
by: Coach Zeober

Hi David,

First let me say that there are a great number of highly successful archers who are cross dominant like you. The choice to shoot cross dominant is strictly yours - the bottom line is that you should be focused on having fun.

Training your less dominant arm/hand is very doable providing you have the patience and the time to do so.

If you choose to go this route then start with a very light draw weight so you can focus first on developing motor skills. While you shoot a light weight bow with your non-dominate hand you will begin to develop strength and you can increase the draw weight over time in 2 to 4 pound increments to avoid injury.

The key is to focus on motor skill and if you are over bowed (heavy draw weight) its unlikely that you will ever be real successful. Start with a light draw weight and build up over time just like a weight lifter would train with subsequently heavier weight.

Eye dominance is another topic of its own.
The key here is retraining the less dominant eye and there are specific exercises I use to help an archer progress.

What you should know is that if you choose to continue to shoot cross dominant it is very likely that your non-dominant eye will slowly learn to be the receptor as it relates to target acquisition and aiming over a period of time. Practice and training of the eye happens almost instinctively.

As for selecting a draw weight for your first bow I can only suggest that you seek out a dealer, pro-shop or a local club instructor or coach who can help you properly determine a suitable draw weight.

FYI – All of my new and or/novice archers practice or train on very lightweight bows (under 20 pounds) so we can focus on proper shooting form and technique.

By doing so we can shoot many repetitions without becoming fatigued or injured.

By way of a recommendation – consider your first bow to be your training bow and keep the draw weight light. Heavy draw weights are not the way to learn.

Best wishes,
Coach Zeober

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