Right vs Left Handed Bows: What Is The Difference? – 2021 Comparison

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Are you confused about whether to buy a left or right-handed bow? Are you wondering if it even matters?

So are tons of other people new to archery, and the misconception around what the terms mean makes the decision even more difficult. We’ve found that one is ideal for a particular hand and eye dominance combos and the other for the opposite. 

First off, let’s talk about the basics. 

How to Tell If I Am a Left-Handed or Right-Handed Shooter

Before purchasing your first bow, figure out whether you are a left or right-handed shooter. Using equipment that matches your unique specifications will increase accuracy. 

Learning your dominant side before shopping ensures you don’t waste money on an item that won’t work well. For the most part, if you’re a righty, you’ll need a right-handed bow and vice versa. 

However, not everyone fits this guideline. So, you need to determine both your hand and eye dominance to pick the perfect bow. 

Determining Hand Dominance

In archery, your dominant hand pulls back the bowstring while your other one holds the bow. Consider which one you are the most comfortable using. Which hand do you write with, hold your toothbrush in, and throw with? Your answer will be your dominant one.

You may find that you do some things with your left hand and others with your right. If so, you are ambidextrous. You may still tend to favor one (dominant) more than the other. But, if you use both hands equally, focus on eye dominance when choosing a bow.  

Determining Eye Dominance

There are two tests for figuring out which eye is dominant: the Miles test and the Porta test. 

The Miles Test

For the Miles test, start by putting your arms out at eye level. Make sure your palms face away from you. Next, join your hands in a “V” shape with your thumbs overlapping your index fingers. 

Pick a small object about 10 feet away and center it between the “V.” Close one eye, and see if it disappears. If so, the open one is dominant. If not, repeat this process with the other eye. If the item doesn’t disappear with either eye closed, then you have a central vision. This condition is rare but means you can choose a bow based solely on your hand results. 

Photo credit: zmescience.com

The Porta Test

For the Porta test, extend one arm out at eye level. Make a thumbs-up, and use it to cover an object about 10 feet away. Close one eye, and see if it remains covered. If so, the open eye is dominant. 

Repeat with the other eye. If the item remains hidden in both instances, then you have a central vision. 

What Is Cross-Dominance?

Most archers will find their dominant eye will be on the same side as their dominant hand. However, some people have a stronger right hand but a better left eye, or vice versa. They have cross-dominance. 

Usually, you should shoot with both eyes open, allowing for a wider field of vision. But, being cross-dominant means you don’t have this option. 

Instead, choose a bow based on your better eye. You’ll need to train your hand, but this will be easier than improving your non-dominant eye. 

Parallax

Parallax is an optical illusion that makes an object seem like it’s somewhere other than its actual location. It’s what happens when testing your eyes; when the item disappears or doesn’t look covered by your thumb, you’re experiencing parallax. 

This factor makes testing vital. Choosing a bow based on your weaker eye means decreasing your shooting accuracy. When you look at your target, you might perceive it in one spot. In reality, it’s in another. 

Does it Really Matter If I Get a Right or Left-Handed Bow?

So, does it matter which bow you buy? Absolutely. Manufacturers almost always design this equipment with a specific side in mind.

If you draw a right-handed bow with your left hand, parts will be on the wrong side, negatively affecting your aim. 

Plus, pulling back a bow takes a lot of power. Your dominant side will be stronger and have more coordination, making drawing easier. 

Right and Left-Handed Bow Differences

There are a few critical differences between right and left-handed bows. Let’s discuss these points below. 

Arrow Rest

The arrow rest holds the end of the arrow when you draw. The riser is the centerpiece that the rest is attached to.

Most bows have the rest on the left side of the riser. This equipment is for righties. Left-handed ones will have the rest on the right. 

Photo credit: rangerexpert.com

Arrow Stabilizer

The riser also has an arrow stabilizer, which helps secure the arrow. Like the arrow rest, this piece will be on the opposite side of the riser; the righties will find it on the left, and the lefties will find it on the right. 

Sights

Bows often have tiny pegs sticking out from the bow, which allow you to line up your target. Just like the other parts we mentioned, you want the sights on the opposite side. If you’re using a left-handed bow, they should be on the right and vice versa. 

Recurve Bows

Recurve bows will have all the differences discussed above. However, recurve bows are tricky because people often string them backward, which makes it seem like all the parts are on the correct side. 

For example, a right-handed bow with this problem would have the rest, stabilizer, and sights on the right side, making it appear to be left-handed.

When shopping for this type of equipment, make sure the curve comes towards you and then back to the front. If not, someone strung the bow improperly. 

Photo credit: huntingmark.com

What About Ambidextrous Bows?

Some manufacturers make bows that you can draw with both hands. Longbows are ambidextrous as long as they don’t have an arrow shelf. Some recurve bows have interchangeable risers and a grip designed to be comfortable for either.

Arrow rests are sometimes detachable, allowing you to change what side they’re on. People who are comfortable with both may prefer ambidextrous bows. These products let them convert sides without having to spend money on additional attachments. 

If you use both hands equally, you may want to draw with your left one day and your right the next. Instead of buying two separate bows, consider looking into an ambidextrous one. 

Remember that not as many of these products are on the market.  You’ll also need to close your dominant eye when shooting with the opposite hand. So if you have one you prefer over the other, it might be better to go for a bow designed for that side. 

Choosing the Right Bow

Once you’ve figured out your hand and eye dominance, it’s time to decide what bow to get. This choice will be simple for archers with matching results but a little more complicated if they’re cross-dominant.

Which Bow Should You Use If You Have Matching Dominance?

If you have matching results, match their equipment to that side. Left-eye and left-hand dominant archers should have a left-handed bow. Hold it in your right hand and draw with the other. 

If you’re right-eyed and right-handed, go with a right-handed bow. Draw with your right hand while holding it in your left one. 

Which Hand Should Be Your Bow Hand If You’re Right-Eye Dominant?

If you’re right-eye dominant, you should draw your bow with your right hand, and you need to buy a right-handed bow. This recommendation includes if you have cross-dominance. You’ll have an easier time increasing your non-dominant hand's strength than you will be shooting with your weaker eye. 

What About Left-Eye Dominant Archers?

Left-eye dominance requires drawing with your left hand. Buy a left-handed bow, even if you’re cross-dominant. Again, drawing with your inferior hand will work better than trying to shoot with a non-dominant eye. 

What Do You Do If You Have Center Vision?

If you have center vision, eye dominance isn’t a factor because they’re both equal. So, focus on your hands: if you’re left-handed, buy a bow for lefties. If you’re right-handed, buy one for righties. 

What If I’m Ambidextrous?

If you're ambidextrous, you have a few different options: buy a bow designed for both hands, base your decision on your eyes, or choose a bow for the hand you prefer. 

For archers who use their hands equally, we recommend an ambidextrous bow. With this equipment, you can change from one side to another quickly. 

Plus, you don’t need to spend money buying two separate bows or extra attachments. Remember, you’ll need to close your non-dominant eye when shooting with the opposite hand. 

If you don’t want to get one of these bows, you should buy a bow that fits your eye dominance. This decision will require shooting with your weaker hand but avoids the more significant issue of using your non-dominant eye. 

With central vision, the choice comes down to personal preference since your eyes aren’t going to affect your accuracy. 

Bottom Line

Ultimately, you should decide which bow to buy based on your more powerful hand and eye. Right-handed bows are best for archers with matching right dominance or cross-dominance with a better right eye, or righties with central vision.

Left-handed bows are suited for people with matching left dominance, left-eyed cross-dominant archers, or lefties with central vision. Ambidextrous bows can also be a great choice if you use both hands, as long as you have central vision or close your stronger eye. 

Following these recommendations will increase your accuracy and make drawing easier. So buy the best boy for you today, and start hitting your target every time!

People Also Ask

Have more questions? We’ll answer them below!

Can a Lefty Use a Right-Handed Bow?

You can use a right-handed bow as a lefty, but we don’t recommend it unless you’re cross-dominant. Parts like the rest, sights, and stabilizers will be on the wrong side, decreasing your accuracy. You’ll also have a more challenging time pulling back the arrow. 

How Do You Tell if a Bow Is Left or Right-Handed?

Left-handed bows will have pieces such as the arrow rest on the right of the riser. Right-handed bows will have them on the left. 

Photo credit: archershub.com

Are Left-Handed Bows More Expensive?

These bows aren’t more expensive. However, they can be harder to find. While all manufacturers make lefty options, not all suppliers carry them. Additionally, the ones that do may have less in stock. 

How Do You Know If You Need a Right or Left-Handed Bow?

Figure out your hand and eye dominance. If they match, go with the corresponding option. If they don’t, go with your eye results. 

Can You Convert a Left-Handed Bow to Right?

You can convert a left-handed bow to right, but it’s difficult, expensive, and not recommended. Buying a new one will likely be cheaper and more effective. 

Should You Aim With One Eye Closed?

Unless you have cross-dominance, shoot with both eyes open. You’ll get the best field of view this way. You may also find closing one helpful if you have central vision because it’ll keep your eyes from fighting for control.



My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.