There are many different types of bows available for archers across the globe. Barebow, compound, longbow, horse bow, flat bow, recurve… But did you know that most of these bows also feature different styles depending on your dominant hand?
There’s no one bow fits all. Depending on whether you are left or right handed, you will need to ensure that you choose the best bow that fits your shooting style. PS. If you want to learn about making archery backstops, we recently published an in depth guide for you.
However, sometimes this isn’t easy to do. If you’re restricted by a budget, or your local archery club doesn’t have an abundance of bows, you may be forced to shoot with the wrong type of bow for your particular dominant hand.
Which of course leads us on to the question…
Can you shoot a left handed bow right handed?
The short answer is yes, you can. However, it’s a little bit more complicated than a simple yes or no answer. That’s because the arrow rest will be positioned at the wrong side of the bow for your dominant hand.
You will be holding the bow in your left hand, and the arrow rest will be on the opposite side of the bow. This will just make things more difficult when you’re trying to get consistency with your shooting, so it really isn’t advised that you shoot a left handed bow right handed.
The correct positioning of the arrow should ensure that the cock fletching faces towards you when the arrow rests on the bow. You can of course teach yourself how to shoot left handed if you have a left handed bow, however, it will likely take a bit of concentration and take a while for you to get used to it.
What is a left handed bow?
A left handed bow is a bow that has been manufactured for use with left handed people. There are less left handed people in the world than there are right handed people, so there are less bows made to compensate for this.
The left handed bow is held in the right hand, allowing the archer to draw back the string using their left hand. This allows them to make use of their dominant hand and eye in order to get better accuracy. It is possible for left handed people to learn how to shoot using a right handed bow and vice versa, however, this will take a bit of getting used to.
Even though there are different types of bows, many of these are available in both left and right handed types. Bows such as the barebow, recurve, and compound will need to be made for your dominant hand. However, some bows such as longbows and horse bows don’t need to be manufactured differently for dominant hands.
This is because they generally don’t feature arrow rests. The user tends to rest the arrow on their hand instead, so it doesn’t matter which hand grips the bow. Arrow rests need to be on the side of the bow that faces your body, allowing you to position the arrow correctly.
Can I shoot a right handed bow if I’m left eye dominant?
Similar to the answer above, yes, you can! However, trying to shoot with a bow that uses your less dominant eye may take some getting used to. This is because you will naturally adjust your head when aiming to try and see using your dominant eye.
So while shooting a right handed bow won’t affect your overall accuracy in general, it will take a bit of practice to get used to it.
It’s worth remembering that a right handed bow is held in your left hand, and your right hand is the hand you use to draw the string.
This generally suits right handed people better, as they can then use their right eye to aim as it’s closer to the string when you aim. Your line of sight will be as flush to the length of the arrow as possible.
Which hand holds the bow in archery?
The hand that holds the bow in archery will differ depending on your hand dominance and bow type. Typically if you’re right handed and are shooting a right hand bow, you will hold the bow in your left hand and use your right hand to draw back the string.
If you’re using a left handed bow, you should hold the bow in your right hand, and use your left hand to draw.
Things get a little bit easier if you opt for a longbow or horse bow. These don’t tend to feature an arrow rest, and you instead use your hand to rest the arrow so you can aim.
These arrows tend to feature feather fletchings, too, otherwise you could really cut up your hand when the arrows loose. Your hand will also build up a callous over time to compensate for this.
Should I shoot a bow left or right handed?
Unless you opt for the longbow or horse bow, it’s a little bit more complicated than simply swapping which hand you draw back with. If you want to start off with a barebow, recurve, flat bow, or compound, you will need to buy the bow that suits your dominant hand and eye.
To find out which eye is your dominant eye, use this simple trick. Raise both hands in front of you and use your two thumbs and index fingers to form a triangle. Hold the triangle shape directly in front of you, and close one eye.
If you’ve closed your right eye and can still see through the triangle, you’re left eye dominant. If you closed your left eye and can still see through the triangle, you’re right eye dominant.
You should buy the bow that best suits your dominant eye and hand. This will make your experience with archery smoother, and allow you to get better accuracy when it comes to shooting.
So in short, yes, you can shoot a left handed bow right handed. However, it’s not advised, as you will need to make all kinds of compensations to ensure that your arrows hit the target.
If you have a left handed bow, it will be worth putting in the effort to train your brain to shoot left handed. Or you could buy yourself a right handed bow to suit your dominant hand!