Friday, April 4, 2008

A Little History, Part 4: The Great Shift

I have been extremely right handed my entire life. Writing that I do with my left hand is just about impossible to read. Seeing me try to throw with my left hand is an exercise in biting one's tongue to keep from breaking down into hysterical laughter. The only left thing about me when I walked onto the range that first day was my politics.

The assistant coach came up and checked us for eye dominance. When she got to me, she decided that I was ambidextrous eye-wise, and said that I could shoot from either side. Being so completely right handed, I naturally decided to shoot right handed, meaning that I hold the bow in my left hand, stand with my left foot towards the target, my quiver on my right hip away from the target, and I draw the bow with my right hand. For a few weeks I started shooting this way, and was doing decently in the class. I was not the best archer in our group, but I was hovering in the top 5 or 10 for sure.

After a few weeks, the main coach, former US Olympic team coach Lloyd Brown, came to the range. After a few minutes of watching me shoot, Lloyd basically asked me "What the hell are you doing shooting right handed?" Lloyd had noticed that I was aiming all wrong, and my arrows were not flying as they normally would. He readministered the eye dominance test to me, and told me that I was left eye dominant. Handing me a left handed bow and finger tab, he had me switch my quiver to me left hip, and got me set up standing left foot forward, holding the bow in my right hand, and drawing with my left. I immediately dropped to the bottom of the class, as everyone else had a few weeks of getting used to the form, while I was starting at about square 1.1 (as opposed to starting completely over at square 1).

It is a good thing Lloyd switched me, though. Of the about 25 people in that class, I believe that only 2 of us are still shooting today, or were even shooting when the next class started in the fall of 2005. Only Elisa and I were left standing, and there is no way that I would still be shooting if I had been left right handed, as the frustration would have mounted and I would not have been able to develop as an archer.

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