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Archery - What to do if you are Cross Dominant

Q

Hello!

I am cross dominant (right handed but left eye dominant). I find it very awkward to pull back and shoot using my left arm. Is there anything to do to rectify this problem? I have tried shooting with my right side instead, but my accuracy that way is horrible / worse. Help?!

- Gerry W.

A

Hey Gerry!

First, for my readers I am going to clarify what it means to have a dominant eye and to be cross dominant. Your dominant eye is the one people aim with. It doesn't necessarily match up with which hand is dominant. Roughly 15% of people are left eye dominant, and while some of them are left handed, quite often there is a percentage of people who are right handed and left eye dominant (or the reverse, left handed and right eye dominant, although that is more rare).

To check which eye is your dominant one please read the Eye Dominance Test page and follow the instructions listed there.

Second, the reason it feels awkward for your left arm is because you are not used to using your left arm for pulling exercises and it is physically weaker than your right arm. There are two ways to rectify this:

#1. Practice, practice, practice. The act of doing archery will make your left arm / left side stronger and you will eventually be able to pull the bow with ease.

#2. Complement your archery practice with weight lifting. Devote 10% to 15% more repetitions to your left side. Over time your left side will become stronger and more used to the act of pulling the bow. Both arms, shoulders and back muscles will get stronger, but your left arm

Third, a common problem with cross dominant people is that their left hand is both weaker and less dextrous because it isn't used for tasks requiring manual dexterity / gripping tasks. Making your hand stronger is relatively easy - buy a pair of hand grips and do hand grip exercises with them. (See Hand Grips for Beginners.)

How you increase the manual dexterity in your off hand is a matter of debate. I recommend juggling with three balls or juggling two balls right-to-left because it forces you to be catching/throwing the balls with your left hand instead of just your right. If you only juggle with two balls then use your right hand to be catching the balls and your left to be throwing them. Usually most right handed people shift the ball left-to-right when juggling two balls because they are catching with their left hand, shifting the ball to the right and then the right hand is throwing the ball up again. By reversing the process, you are forcing your left hand to catch the ball being shifted to the left, and to be tossing the ball accurately in the air. This will take a lot of practice to master. Days, weeks, maybe even months.

It takes time for people to work their way up to juggling three balls (which requires that both hands be equally dexterous), so juggling right-to-left will be a good stepping stone to eventually learning to juggle 3 at once.

However once mastered juggling with your left hand, it should have dramatically more manual dexterity and won't feel so clumsy when you are trying to shoot with it.

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