Bowls is played on a large smooth grass or artificial turf surface, called a “green”. Equipment includes your bowls, which are large, hard resin balls with a bias to them, so that they travel along an elliptical path, rather than going straight; another small, white, smooth, ball called a “jack”; and a mat from which you bowl. The object of bowls, as in Bocce or curling, is to get your bowls closer to the jack than your opponent. This is achieved by players from each team taking turns rolling their bowls down the green toward the jack.
The jack is rolled first. Because it does not have a bias, it travels in a straight line. Players then alternate delivering their bowls – the bias gives the bowls a characteristic elliptical path, which means they are aimed out at an angle and curve back in towards the jack. Just like a putt in golf with a break on the green to be read correctly by the player, the successful delivery of a bowl to the jack is simply a matter of line (initial direction) and length (weight or force). After all the bowls have been delivered (the conclusion of the end), it is determined how many bowls you have closer than your opponent’s nearest bowl. This is how you score points. Your opponent would score points by counting the number of bowls THEY have closer to the jack than YOUR nearest bowl, at the conclusion of an end.
The game has an added complexity when you realize that the jack can be moved at any time during the game by hitting it with a bowl. This forces you to adapt both offensive and defensive strategies throughout the course of an end. In addition, the distance between the jack and the mat can be anywhere from 70 to 120 feet.
It is also very difficult to “blank” an end. One team or another will score a point in every end played. The length of a game is determined in advance and usually a game will last: 12 or 14 ends in Pairs, Triples, or Fours, and to 21 points in Singles.
Aside from the fact that Bowls is a fascinating sport, it’s also a highly social environment. If you’re looking for fun or a challenge to your skills, regardless of age, size or gender, bowls delivers.
Bowls – Bowls come in a variety of sizes and weights. The Cobequid Lawn Bowls Club has an adequate supply of bowls for you to use, so no need to purchase any. However it is common for members to purchase their own set of 4 so they always have the size they prefer and also for travelling to other clubs to play.
Shoes – Flat soled shoes/sneakers work best – please make sure they are clean before stepping on the green.
Clothing – “Whites” not required for recreational play. Just wear comfortable clothing suited for the weather. A brimmed hat and sunglasses are recommended for those sunny days. Competitive play, such as provincials or special tournaments may have clothing restrictions, so it is best to check before going.
Hand Towel – A towel comes in handy for wiping your hands and bowls before delivering.