So You Want to be an Archer: Physical Considerations

So you have decided to become an archer; where does one actually begin? For many of our dedicated readers and club members, the answer to that question is a simple one: go to a beginner class. For most other archers, however, the process starts by considering a few of their physical attributes that plays important role in the shooting process.

Hand and eye dominance
Save for those few truly ambidextrous individuals, we all have a strong preference for either our left or right hand in performing daily activities. Due to physical strength and dexterity considerations, it is highly recommended that you draw your bow with your dominant hand. This recommendation does, however, come with a caveat that you should give some thought to eye (or if you are fancy, “ocular”) dominance.

Ocular dominance describes our brain’s tendency to prefer input from one eye over the other. Due to the nature of how visual information is process, many do not realize they have such a preference. To that end, many archers, before ever touching a bow, takes an eye dominance test to figure out their dominant eye. There are various forms of tests for eye dominance; most of our members were subjected to the so-called aperture test at their first practice.

The majority of people will express a preference for hand and eye on the same side of their body; the choice of archery “handedness” is simple in this case. The remaining minority will express either cross-dominance, where the dominant eye and hand are on opposite sides of the body, or co-dominance, where there is no strong ocular dominance. For the cross- and co-dominant archers, the choice of handedness is usually made by their hand dominance.

Draw length
Due to the mechanical principles that govern how a bow builds and stores potential energy, the length to which the archer is able to draw back the bow is an important factor in getting the most out of every shot (more on this in a later post). This also goes to determine the overall length of bow an archer should use.

If you happen to have access to a shop, club, or organization that have bows they can lend you, the draw length can be measured and the equipment selected to accommodate your draw length. However, since most beginners suffer from the debilitating conditions of not owning a bow, we can instead–through consultation with an archery Oracle–make estimates base on their wingspan. Dividing the wingspan, the tip-to-tip distance spanned by your arms when both ares are extended, by 2.5 yields an approximation of the your draw length, the correspondence between draw length and recommended bow length can be made by consulting the following table, provided by Lancaster Archery Supply.


14-16 inches……………….48 inches
17-20 inches……………….54 inches
20-22 inches……………….58 inches
22-24 inches……………….62 inches
24-26 inches……………….64-66 inches
26-28 inches……………….66-68 inches
28-30 inches……………….68-70 inches
31 inches and longer…………70-72 inches

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