Do you need good eyesight for archery?

Many people believe that you need excellent eyesight to compete in archery. It seems logical that you need good vision to be able to aim correctly. If you, however, have poor eyesight you might wonder if you can even compete in archery. Will you be able to aim or will you be at a disadvantage? I will address all these questions in this article.

Let me first answer the question from the title: You don’t need good eyesight to participate in archery. If you can see the target, you will have no issue shooting your bow. It might be harder to see the sight pin, but with some minor adjustments, you should be able to compete.

In this article, I will first explain why you don’t need excellent eyesight in more detail. Next, I will advise you based on different scenarios.

Why you don’t need excellent eyesight

When outsiders look at archery, it seems like it is all about aiming. They believe that it’s just like shooting a rifle, the most important thing is to aim correctly. Although aiming is important, your technique is way more important. Beginning archers often have no issues with aiming, since it is relatively straight forward. The reason why archery is so difficult is that you need to master a lot of techniques and be consistent. With a rifle you can stand, sit or lay down, as long as you keep your rifle on target it won’t hurt your accuracy.

Consistency in your muscle tension isn’t a big deal when shooting with a rifle. When you pull the trigger the bullet leave the muscle before you can even react. This isn’t the case with archery, jerking the bow before the arrow completely clears the riser is a big issue. Therefore, you need to be very consistent in your release. Since you also touch the string while, you can directly influence the flight of the arrow. With a rifle the bullet is enclosed in the chamber, therefore you can’t interfere with the flight path.

Because archery involves so much technique, some archers even believe that having a poor eyesight is beneficial. When archers focus too much on aiming often the technique suffers because of it. If you focus too much on aiming, you can also experience flinching, which is also known as target panic. Therefore, some archers believe that poor eyesight prevent these bad habits and help you focus on the technique. I don’t really think this is the case, people with poor eyesight often make minor adjustments to their bow to compensate for it.

What to do if…

I already discussed a few times that some archers have to make adjustments to their setup to be able to shoot accurately. These changes depend on your condition and shooting style. In this section I will discuss a few of these adjustments based on someone’s issue.

You can’t see the sight pin

A common issue amongst archers that wear reading glasses is that they can’t see the sight pin. You can’t wear your reading glasses because the target will get very blurry therefore you need to change your setup if you experience this. I also heard one archer that has blobs of debris in his eye, which makes it hard to see the sight pin.

If you experience a similar issue you might want to look at the setup of your sight. Depending on your sight, you might want to use a different color of sight pin. You can of course also choose to use a larger sight pin. Another common option is to illuminate your sight. If you have a compound bow, you can often use a sight light which easily screws in your sight to make it brighter. A sight light can make a big difference and is very inexpensive, therefore this is the go-to option if you have a compound bow.

If you are a recurve archer a sight light is often not an option, since you often have no good way to attach the light. You can, however, change your standard sight pin to a fiber optic wire.

Your glasses distort the target image

It is a common issue for archers that shoot with glasses is that the target image gets distorted. It is also common that you don’t actually look through the glass when shooting. With normal use you always use the middle section of your glasses. With archery you use the sides of the glasses way more, because you don’t fully turn your head while aiming. These issues can be a major distraction while shooting.

Luckily developments in the manufacturing in glasses has come a long way. Often there are solutions for these issues. If you experience these issues, I would recommend to visit your optician. He or she can fully customize a pair of glasses to your needs. Although it is quite an investment, what I hear from the archers from my club, it is absolutely worth it.

Your glasses interfere with the string

If your glasses interfere with the string, it can not only influence your accuracy, it can be rather dangerous. Although it is very rare, some archers experience this issue when shooting. Often buying a more sleek pair of glasses helps, you could also consider buying sport glasses. Again, the best option is to discuss your options with your optician.

You can’t clearly see the target

If you can clearly see the target, you might experience some issues with aiming. Although you don’t have to see the target very clearly, you should be able to aim at the center. Some archers don’t even use the sight pin and line the large outer circle up with the outer edge of the target. This can be a great option if you can’t clearly see the middle of the target. Another easy option for compound archers is to buy a sight with stronger magnification. When the target is more magnified it will be easier to distinguish between the different color rings.

Final remarks

The main point I want to make in this article is that you don’t need great eyesight to partake in archery. Even with very bad eyesight you will be able to shoot fine. I even know a few archers that are completely blind, although they need assistance, they can still enjoy the hobby. Therefore you shouldn’t be held back by your eyesight. If you experience any issues, try one of the tips from this article or visit your optician. Most issues can be easily overcome with some adjustments, you just have to be a bit more creative.

If you have any questions or comments you would like to share, please add them in the comments below, I will respond as soon as possible.

Tim van Rooijen

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by archery. First due to its historic significance but later because I like being outdoors. With this blog, I share my knowledge about Archery and how you can improve your shot. More about author…

2 Replies to “Do you need good eyesight for archery?”

  1. June says:

    I took my first archery class yesterday. It was hard to adjust my results because I couldn’t see where the arrow landed. I can see the sight pin fine, just not where the arrow lands. Any suggestions for this? The instructor would tell us where our arrows landed (my friend couldn’t see hers, either), but we won’t want to pay for an instructor’s time just for this assistance. Thanks!

    1. Tim van Rooijen says:

      Hi June,

      Many archers have this issue, even people with good eyesight. Primarily if you shoot long distances, it will be more difficult to track the arrow. One easy way to solve this issue is by bringing a pair of binoculars. At my local archery club, we often take turns spotting the arrows, but you can also do it yourself after the shot. I hope this helps!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *