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Cross Dominance

by Claire Dougall
(Victoria, Australia)

Hi there,

I'm a novice recurve archer with serious cross-dominance issues.

I'm getting to the stage where I'd like to get more serious with my archery and buy my own gear with the aim of getting into competition. But I'm stuck on what bow to go with: left or right!

Here's my dilemma:
- I'm right-eye dominant and play all sports right handed,
- but I write left-handed, eat left-handed, apply makeup left-handed, and use my left eye on a camera view finder.
- I can't close my left eye independently of my dominant eye (right eye), but can close my right eye independently.

When I hold a bow, I am strangely far more comfortable holding the bow in my right hand and drawing with the left, whilst closing my right (dominant eye). I in fact do extremely well shooting left-handed. (I continuously hit in the gold, and occasionally an 8 in the red, but no lower).

But given my right-eye dominance, I've been trying to shoot right handed of late. Given I can't close my left eye, I've been shooting with both eyes open and taking into account the parallax effect.

But it all feels so unnatural and my shooting has been way off! Like WAY off! (I'm hitting 5s and 6s all the time and in golds!!). I find it so much easier to aim left-handed with just my left eye open...

I'm going to keep trying to train myself to shoot right-handed, but I can't help feeling like I'd do so much better on my left side!

If I'm doing target shooting, am I going to be disadvantaged that significantly in terms of balance if I shoot with my dominant eye closed?

Should I persist with right handed? Or should I stick with my comfortable left handed side?

Will I ultimately disadvantage myself in the long run, and hurt my chances of becoming a competitive archer if I stay left handed?


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The Cure for Cross Dominance
by: Coach Zeober

Hello Claire,

Your comments indicate you are ambidextrous (play sports right handed) however, you perform fine motor skills left handed: write, eat, and apply makeup left handed) and you are right eye dominant however, when shooting right handed you have to compensate further for the parallax effect.

You also indicate that you are more comfortable holding the bow in right hand and drawing with left hand which confirms your preference to perform fine motor skill left handed.

What to do?

Continue to shoot with your favored side (left handed bow) and re-train your dominant eye
Take time to develop your motor skill for right handed archer (right hand bow).

Which is the preferred method?

For older archers (older than mid/late teens) my suggestion is almost always to retrain ocular dominance.


By the time we reach late teens or early 20”s we are settled in to using our preferred dominant hand and frankly, most folks don’t have the time (more importantly – the patience) to retrain motor skills.

Retraining motor skill is both foreign and uncomfortable and it’s about as fun as wearing our shoes on the wrong feet.

Finally, there are plenty of individuals in a variety of shooting sports who are very successful cross-dominant shooters. I happen to be among those who are right handed and left eye dominant...but its not a handicap because I have trained my right eye to cooperate during shooting.

My recommendation:
You have already developed your left hand to be the dominant hand that performs fine motor skills.

Stick with what you are more comfortable with and shoot a left-hand bow.

You indicated that you use your left eye when using a view finder on a camera which indicates you are very comfortable receiving information with the left eye even though you are right eye dominant.

You’re likely to be very successful in retraining your left eye as the dominant eye while shooting.

The method and procedures for retraining your dominant eye are too long to include here – my answer to your dilemma was sent to you in private email.

If you have questions about the process or need additional help please let me know.

Best wishes and happy shooting,
Coach Zeober

PS - Please stay in touch and let me know how you are progressing.

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