Left-handed archers: Five things you should know about buying equipment

Left-handed archers live in a right-handed world. Actually, that’s not something confined to archery. It’s generally held that only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, and so the whole world tends to cater to righties.

In archery, the way you shoot should pertain to eye dominance, rather than hand preference – but that’s a topic for another article, which we plan to address in the future.

The world has nothing personal against lefties. It’s a matter of numbers. Here at Lancaster Archery Supply, for example, only about 15 percent of the gear we sell to both right- and left-handed archers is bought by the southpaws. And if you scroll through the shopping area of our site, you will notice that most images of gear that comes in right- and left-handed models depict the right-handed version.

Unfortunately, right-handed dominance can make life difficult when lefties go shopping for a left-handed bow and related equipment. Here are five things left-handed archers should keep in mind:

1. All bow manufacturers make right- and left-handed models. But your local pro shop probably doesn’t keep a huge selection of left-handed bows in stock, due to the comparatively few number of left-handed archers. (Of all the bows sold each year by Mathews, for example, only 8-12 percent are left-handed.) Call ahead to make sure they have the bows you want to check out in the proper size, draw length and draw weight.

2. Release aids for compound shooters all can be used by right- and left-handed shooters. Some simply swivel into position for use either way, while others require minor adjustments with tools to complete the switch. Those that have to be adjusted will always be packaged by the manufacturer for use by righties. So don’t freak out when all you see is a wall of right-handed releases. They can be converted for left-handed use.

Release aids

3. Some sights are made for right-handed or left-handed archers, while others are ambidextrous. That is, you can set up one sight for either left- or right-handed use. Be aware, however, this usually means the sight amenities will be “upside down” for lefties. For example, the normal configuration for most sights is to have the level on the bottom of the sight guard, and the light shining down from the top. Ambidextrous sights will be set that way for right-handed shooters. When set up for lefties, however, such sights typically have the level on the top and the light on the bottom.

4. Be prepared to special order a lot of your gear. Many pro shops simply don’t keep on hand the same selection of left-handed equipment as they do right-handed – especially the high-end, high-dollar gear. They’ll tell you they can get what you want, but you have to special order it.

5. Bowhunters often will find tree stands, stick ladders and other gear set by the manufacturer for right-handed archers. For example, ratchet straps often are connected to tree stands at the factory so that they must be tightened with your right hand. Usually, you can switch these straps at home for left-handed use.