Slave to the Crown
Hawkeye's Comment
I have included the following article because in my opinion it is sound advice for any novice.
Brian Gilman has obviously intended it for retirees , but it certainly applies to all age groups.
Thank you Brian for writing such a good article. 
 Printed with the permission of the author : Brian Gilman ,Cheadle Bowling Club  ,Staffordshire.

 SLAVE TO THE CROWN - by thumbpeg
 Yes, that is your fate when you join the many thousands in the Midlands, North of England and North Wales ,who enjoy the wonderful sport of Crown Green Bowling, as you prepare to pit your wits against the green and become " Slave to the Crown "

I was tempted to write this article primarily because of my own extreme disappointment at the lack of good advice to the beginner who is perhaps thinking of taking up a recreation in retirement. It is a fact and also a great shame that most players of this tremendous game are chronologically challenged and nearly everyone who does take it up wish that they had done so much earlier in life.I have no claim whatsoever to have reached any heights in the sport of Crown Green Bowls. I have simply been a club bowler for a number of years since retirement - yes, I'm another wrinkly - and with a few thoughts about how I should like to present my favourite all consuming hobby.So here goes!

Thumbpeg This article is not for those who aspire to get to the top; hell, it's too late for that. Let's face it, we have all seen better days. What it will do is to give an insight into how you can learn to compete with your own kind, to improve a bit, to win a trophy or two, and best of all to enjoy a brilliant sport - good luck.
Fingerpeg  (Fingerpeg acts as my inner friend and conscience throughout)

Surprisingly little has been written about a tremendously popular sport of the Midlands, Northern England  and North Wales, that of Crown Green Bowls, assuredly the poor country cousin of the internationally acclaimed game of Rink or Lawn Bowls that can be played either indoors or out and on grass or artificial surfaces.Crown Green Bowls is, unforgivingly, an outdoor game on grass although one or two hotels on the Spanish Costas/Cyprus  have enterprisingly put down artificial crown greens to attract the northern English holidaymaker.Although closely related, the two games have distinct identities and the respective players have little time for their counterparts. I was particularly reminded of this on a recent holiday to Cyprus where there are a number of excellent bowling greens primarily designed for wealthy ex pats of the " flat earth brigade".
Trying vainly to play on one such foreign surface I came across a group of fellow Crown Green bowlers who insisted in bowling to all corners of the green and across the lanes with their own woods and jack and who vowed that if they had to play in lanes and on the flat then they would never play bowls again. Looking on in amused contempt was the club professional from Scotland who admitted that while bowls was his livelihood that he had never been on a crown green in his life.
Another example of how little the sport is known outside its own areas was a break taken in the Isle of Wight at the Sporting Hotel, Shanklin.
 In conversation I was amazed to find that the owner who, as you would imagine, specialised in attracting U.K. sporting clubs and associations of all kinds, had never even heard of crown green bowls; he simply did not know that such a sport existed. I was shocked and not a little exasperated.
FP : is it true perhaps that our sport originated due to the cost of creating flat greens ? - it was easier to utilise a patch of grass next to the pub that might be anything but flat.
A Team Game? Most clubs operate on the basis of competition in locally formed leagues that more normally are based upon teams that may vary in the number of players, say from 6 to 10.
Depending upon membership the individual club may enter a variety of leagues, playing on different days and at different times.Many now operate mixed and all female teams, while some attempt to stick with tradition and insist upon male only membership; indeed there are many bowls clubhouses that are still barred to the fairer sex. On the other hand, leagues operate very clearly as men only, women only, or mixed as defined in their respective rule books.
So the majority of players play as part of a team and I question the definition of team sport only because actual play is based entirely upon "one against one" combat excepting the diminishing role of doubles play. The " team's performance " is thus the sum total of the performances of the individual players, and team spirit is engendered almost entirely by vocal encouragement , the loyalty of the availability to play when called upon to do so, practice games between members and ,of course, off the green activities as in imbibing.
I started off by saying that most clubs operate on a competitive basis ; however, there are many village sites that exist purely for the social aspects and the Sunday afternoon friendlies, one with another, and good luck to them.
Shall I fit in ? Notwithstanding the reservations regarding gender as described above it is in my own experience as a male that it matters not one jot who you are or what you are and from that point of view the sport can be regarded as classless. Bosses mix quite easily with workers and all is forgotten in favour of enjoying your sport. There can be no doubt that it is primarily a working class pastime but I have nevertheless seen many a BMW parked outside in the car park, obviously escapees from knocking hell out of a little white ball.
FP : let's face it; those that have time on their hands but simply will not give this sport a try are those that believe it is in some way demeaning - is it not purely for the very old or infirm ? . More fool them !

.Seems easy enough. The sport is played with two bowls or woods as they are commonly called and a jack. Woods can come in varying profiles and weights and can be turned from actual wood or from a plastic resin product that is more commonly used due to cost considerations. The bias is introduced simply by the precise turning of the profile, one side being left with more mass than the other . The effect is that when sent down a perfectly flat and linear course the bowl will veer over to its weightier side the effect being more pronounced as the initial velocity reduces. It is amazing the number of players who believe that the effect is created by some other mysterious means such as the insertion of a weightier substance such as lead in one side. The difference in profiling is slight so that the eye has difficulty in spotting it and this must have led to the other erroneous beliefs. Manufacturers commonly put a dimple or recess in the biased flank to identify it - more of that later.
It is most important that you choose your woods carefully - the size and shape of your hands dictate the size and weight of your woods. To a certain extent this is in turn decided by the nature of occupation as in the case of manual workers their fingers ,depending upon the precise nature of the work, can double in thickness and in strength; alternatively you can simply be born with large hands not having had to do a hands turn in your life.
Do not fall into the trap of believing that bigger is better ; I have often heard players saying that they play with 2lbs 12 ozs, 2:14 or even higher in a manner that suggests that they must be superior, I believe that this in part is some sort of masculineness as they are distancing themselves from the weight of wood that their feminine counterparts can handle i.e. 2:4 or 2:6 for example.
If you are contemplating bowls you will no doubt wander down to your local club whose members will be full of advice but more importantly will be able to let you handle a variety of sizes and encourage you to try for yourself.
The following story has greatly influenced my own choice. On one occasion I happened to be laid low in hospital and the chappie in the next bed turned out to belong to a family of five brothers all of whom had played for Staffordshire as indeed had their father before them. As a novice I was anxious to gain as much knowledge as I could and the question of "what weight ?" came up.
The old timer looked at my hands and asked what I had been using. 2:10's was the reply, to which there was a snort of derision - "much too big" , he pronounced; "you cannot be in control; try 2:6 and then see how you get on". He then went on to say that the best player amongst his brothers played with 2:6s throughout his career ; he completed his argument with this enlightening comment " What are you trying to get near to - the jack, and what is the weight of the jack ?
I hope that I am not making things too complicated but there are two further factors to take into account :
 1) - it is now possible to purchase woods of the thermo plastic variety of a superior density giving you greater weight within the same volume - they will be commonly marked Hi Density and I thoroughly recommend them, if indeed, you have decided to purchase new.  
 2) - you can obtain either a narrower or a broader sole, i.e. the running surface of the wood, if you choose to go into it that deeply with the suppliers. It follows that the wood with less running width will have less bulk and may suit the smaller hand for this reason.
The woods you finally choose can be influenced by the type of grip that you intend to employ but more of that later. Do take your time before committing yourself to a not insignificant cost and it may be worthwhile, even if you have decided what you want, to scan the local press for second-hand woods; this option has worked very well for a number of my friends who have dropped on a set of lignum vitae ( an imported especially dense wood ) and then had them turned and polished to their own requirements. There are a number of bowls manufacturers that will supply this service.
FP: what he really means is, beg or borrow until you know whether you are hooked or not.
A lot of bowlers carry a tube or tin of Grippo, Griptight or other available alternative; this is a wax like product that imparts a stickiness to your wood or to your fingers that may be helpful in gripping the woods when they have become slippery for some reason. I hasten to add that if you have chosen the size of wood correctly then there should be no real reason for this compound to be used other than the psychological feeling of well being that you have when you believe that you have done everything you can to get it right.
Woods come in a variety of self colours with black being by far the most popular followed by brown which is often, but not always, lignum vitae. There are others: I have seen blue and a rather disgusting green but these are rather few and far between, attracting only the most extrovert characters amongst us. The final touch is to have them personalised with some engraved rings and/or your initials to give easy identification.
Finally, before we leave the subject of acquiring your bowls it has to be said that some players advocate having more than one set to offset the change of green conditions i.e some would say that a lighter wood is better on a fast green and that, conversely, a heavier wood is superior on a heavy green. Each to his own I would say, but if you are comfortable with your woods then it is my belief that it is more important to be able to exercise the necessary control with your delivery technique to take account of such factors.
The jack is easy: all you have to do is choose the colour, as the bias, size and weight are determined by the British Crown Green Bowls Association and each has to be so stamped as to its authenticity by the manufacturer. White is still used, black has been the traditional choice;  however, more and more clubs and indeed individuals are replacing old jacks with bright yellow; the choice is yours.I do advise that you have a jack and that you have a bag to take the three - Have Jack - Will Travel - should be your catchphrase. You are completely self contained and can practice wherever and whenever you wish, no waiting for someone to come along with the key to the clubhouse for example.
There is just one other item that will only cost you a few pence - the footer, a circle of rubber/plastic that marks the spot on the green from which to bowl.Oh, I almost forgot - have a piece of towelling handy to dry your woods off in wet weather.In fact have a bag that will accommodate all your needs. You can buy two tier holdalls that have been designed for the purpose, alternatively most holdalls can be customised with the aid of velcro.

.You can purchase footware for bowls but it is more normally manufactured for the flat game where soles completely free from pattern or heel are the order of the day. These are perfectly O.K. for crown green use but there are occasions when a little more purchase is required and my own experience is that most clubs will not object to any flat soled shoe or trainer. It is commonsense really; do not use anything that you would not use yourself if you were the person responsible for green upkeep.A very useful aid is the stretch rubber overshoe that can be slipped over your preferred footwear in the case of inclement weather. There is nothing worse than preparing to bowl fearing that your anchor foot is going to slip away.  Waterproofs: essential of course and I can only recommend that you invest in some lightweight top and over trousers manufactured for the golfing fraternity; the needs are exactly the same; keeping dry and comfortable while being designed to allow freedom of arm movement. A waterproof hat completes the picture apart from those brilliantly sunny days when it appears to be your lot to be peering directly into the sun; then a long peaked baseball type cap becomes absolutely essential. I well remember rueing the absence of such a lifesaver in an evening match in the Potteries when a combination of the setting sun and contrasting dark shadow rendered me virtually blind with the inevitable result. It was a salutary lesson and I have never traveled without a cap since, despite it informing all and sundry of my particular allegience to a certain football team.
My wife has often likened my appearance to a bag of muck tied in the middle and that has been when I have been going to a wedding !; so I am comfortable in the knowledge that most things are acceptable on a crown green. There is none of that nonsense about wearing persil white togs in our game although smart casual would be nice if I can get round to it.
FP: I have seen tidier bags of compost !
So I think that you are ready to have a try ; let's go for it.

Techniques of Delivery.
So let's begin with the Grip: when you pick up the wood for the first time knowing that the intention is to bowl it some distance it is quite likely that this natural grip will be the one that you shall continue to use. Many bowlers that I know use their fingers and thumb to grasp, with the wood only nestling lightly in the back of the palm ; this is called the claw grip for obvious reasons and the alternative is to let the wood sit back more completely into the cradle of your palm so that you do not have to clutch so powerfully as you prepare to make your delivery - this is termed thecradle position and both these methods have their advocates; they are the two extremes and it may be preferred to go somewhere between the two.What is crucial is that your 'middle' fingers are placed along the line of the running surface with the thumb holding one side and the little finger placed a little lower than the thumb on the other side. You will find that this has a perfectly natural feel provided that you have taken the advice of obtaining the most suitable size of wood for your own hand, but get into the habit of checking that your fingers have not splayed out overmuch and consciously drop your little finger if it tends to find a high position. What we are trying to avoid is wobble which will inevitably reduce the distance reached for the effort put in.Take up your Position: for a right hander, your right foot must be on the footer, or , if you're lefthanded please take up golf instead !!. No,only joking, we love you really-much !. My comment will be explained later. So we are stood, nice and relaxed and facing completely square on to where we want to bowl, nicely balanced. Where do we go from here ?Well, just as there are two recognised grips to hold the wood, there are two recognised methods to deliver it :
 1) commence in an upright position and step forward (with the left foot if R.H. remembering that your right foot must stay on the footer ) as you complete the approximately semi- circular swing of your delivery arm ,or
 2) step forward and set yourself in a fixed position from where you will commence and complete your delivery.In both cases ensure that your feet point down the intended line.I have to say that you witness all sorts of variations on these two themes but they are usually the result of bad habits picked up early on and not dealt with. Yes, you may see some extraordinarily accurate bowling from someone whose delivery looks a might awkward to say the least but the player is overcoming the self imposed handicap; the good results most certainly will not be because of it. Now Deliver the Jack:The jack is the most important delivery for if you have control of the jack you have control of the game. The delivery techniques are the same for both wood and jack and although you have not got a specific target on the green to hit, it is a fact that in matchplay you must be quite clear in your mind where you want the jack to rest. This will come only after much practice even on your own green.Although the jack is much smaller your grip should essentially be the same. Let us assume that you are going to use the upright stance. As you prepare to bowl out the jack, have one of your woods in your left hand; you will have watched the jack go out and the line that it has taken. As soon as the jack has stopped you are entitled to bowl that first wood and it will become obvious to you that it is easier to choose your line if all you have to do is swop the wood to your delivery hand rather than leaving your position altogether while you pick it up from somewhere behind you. ( where is the blessed thing?!).
As we have said before, an average swing could be described as a semi-circular motion. Draw your arm back while keeping your eye on where you want it to go and as you begin the downward swing of your arm begin your stoop and to bend your knees so that when you step forward this lead foot should be planted fractionally before the release from the hand, so that it is one flowing movement releasing the jack with the momentum that your arm, coupled with the motion of your body, has given it.The ideal is that it should come sweetly out of your hand with no bump that can be the case if you have your hand either too high or too low . It is a very satisfying feeling if you can get this delivery absolutely right. It comes to some as the most natural thing in the world but most of us mere mortals have to work hard at it and I think that brings even more satisfaction if it eventually pays off.It is very helpful that your step forward helps the overall impetus given to the bowl - DO NOT STEP FORWARD TOO EARLY - this way you are getting halfway between the fixed stance and the upright without the advantages of either.Now we are not robots and I do not expect that everyone who tries to follow this advice regarding delivery technique to finish up with the identical method and to look like clones of one another. If you watch any number of bowlers they will all have their individual style but the point is that they should all be focussed on those elements that give them the best chance of consistent success.Now I have been deliberately describing the delivery of the jack to emphasise the importance of concentrating on this part of your game. Do not just toss the jack out any old how and only then start to concentrate with the delivery of your woods.
Further points on delivery :-
1) The technique of delivery of your wood is precisely the same as for the jack, although commonly the momentum given to the wood must be greater to achieve the same distance due to the significant weight difference; this does vary according to the condition of the green and gaining experience is the only way to conquer this one
.2) You may prefer a short or a long back swing of your arm and vary it according to conditions, but whatever, your arm should not swing out and away from your body and neither should you allow your elbow to cock away from the body. Keep your hand and arm on the same axis and close to and in line with your body as it swings through.
3) Control your step forward so that there is no chance of losing your balance, however slight. For a short mark, i.e. short distance ( remember that the minimum distance that you can legitimately bowl the jack is 19 metres) the step forward may also be short, whilst it may be helpful on a long mark to lengthen your stride. ( but maintain your balance at all times)
4) As in nearly all sports it is at the crucial time of contact that it is important to keep your eyes and your head still; in the case of bowls it is when you are about to ground your wood.
5) Follow through correctly and while you are learning it is recommended that you really exaggerate, with your hand carrying on and upwards in perfect line of delivery after release of the wood. It may look affected, but it stops bad habits such as hooking, but more on that later
.6) Do not step across the line of your delivery as you move your lead foot forward.By all means read these words of advice before you have a go; but you will understand the points much better after you have had a try on the green and you are sitting with your feet up and you can read and inwardly digest
FP: there is a lot to remember. Are you not making it too complicated?.
 Let me try and answer this one myself - view it like a driving lesson - there must have been a time when you never thought you could think of the brake and the clutch and steer as well.       But there is no examiner in bowls - you have to be the judge of yourself - don't settle for 2nd best !

We have previously said that the bias is clearly marked on the wood. Normally this is with a distinct depressed circle in the centre of the biased side. Commonly it also indicates the extent of the bias i.e. 2 full, and the weight of the wood . The depressed circle is very commonly a different colour but the depression is there purely in order that you can pick up the wood and know which side is which from feel, rather than having to look every time. On the opposite flank is carried your own chosen identification mark.Remembering your grip, if you pick up the wood with your thumb on the bias, you have chosen what is known as thumbpeg - this is simply because the wood will naturally veer, or as bowlers refer to it, peg, to that side. Conversely, if you pick up the wood with your little finger on the bias, you have chosen fingerpeg.The jack is biased in exactly the same way,and the biased flank is indicated by a solitary colour spot. The opposite and non-bias flank is identified with three colour spots in triangular formation.
Practice your swing until you are reasonably consistent in getting the nicely fluid movement in grounding the jack/wood and you can even do this at home as there is no need to actually complete the release. Grounding shall normally be level with, or a little in front of your lead foot.And so to the green: Many people prefer company when they are first starting out but it is important that you have a companion who will be patient and who knows that their presence is only to advise and to encourage, not to show you how good they are. Such people are few and far between and I personally advocate practising on your own as often as you can manage in the early days.To repeat - it is so important that you extract every advantage from having the jack; so, as a beginner, learn to bowl out the jack over various lines and distances so that, on your own green at least, you can eventually put it to within a yard of where you want it to go. If it is possible to borrow at least one more jack, experiment by bowling out on the same line using thumb and then finger peg to learn the different trajectories - the difference will be more obviously demonstrated than if using just the one.
There are two factors to conquer to become a half decent bowler and before tactics need to be addressed. These are Line and Length.Line : to repeat - whatever means you use to be consistent in bowling the desired line, it must also be applied strictly to the jack. Players are surprisingly coy when asked how they target the line; I am not sure why that is but it may be that it is something they have never questioned in their own minds and that their method has just come about naturally or it may be that it is something that is hard to describe.It is therefore something that you must decide for yourself, and it will be quickly evident that even an inch or two deviation from the required line will lead to a stray wood. The alternative methods to make a reference point are

 a) - to pick up on some characteristic of the green such as a mark or disfigurement in the grass over which you wish to send the jack or wood, or
b) - to raise your eyes higher, perhaps to the perimeter of the green and to aim at a particular feature in a hedge or fence. Or it may be that a combination of the two will work best for you; i.e. line up with a distant feature and then draw your eye back down the line to your own position and identify a characteristic of the green that you can then concentrate on.

FP : blimey, no wonder people have been reluctant to tell you.

Now let's be clear about this; our eyes need a reference point . When you have the jack you determine in your mind where you want it to come to rest and then estimate the degree of peg, as bowlers would have it, ( the degree of deviation from a straight line) or the amount of land that it requires, to finish at that spot. Your delivery stance must be square on to the line that the jack will take initially and your eye should be satisfied that you are aiming along the preferred line before the bias and perhaps slope of the green take effect. With this target in mind you bowl out the jack and it is at this moment that you need to take a second reference in order to remember the line; very often, you will want to follow the jack line precisely with your first wood, but even if experience dictates otherwise, you still have your reference point to go by and you can adjust to the left or right slightly which is very often the requirement with the second wood.Provided that you have worked at your delivery and your stance is correct then with a little practice you should soon be adept at bowling the line that you decided upon. We have mentioned before that you can choose thumb or fingerpeg and it really should not make a difference. It is a fact, however, that many bowlers establish a preference in their own minds and claim that they are more accurate with one than the other ; if that is the case it must be an admission of a weakness in delivery - there can be no other explanation. A preference for fingerpeg for example is likely to come about due to the delivery arm being taken out sideways and away from the body on the backswing and then naturally ,as the forward swing commences, it comes back along the same line and continues across the body with the tendency then to produce a hook shot. It is obvious that this action is not going to suit the requirement of a thumb bias shot.Therefore in practice as a beginner, devote an equal time to both thumb and finger bias and concentrate on the arm delivery and a proper follow through.
FP : in other words let the wood do the work
Length: most bowlers recognise that this is the most difficult discipline to master and although I am attempting to advise in some detail over every other part of the game, this is one where only your own experience can guide you. Bowlers commonly refer to "weight of shot " in describing length.Obviously, more, or less energy must be transmitted to the bowl in order to regulate the distance travelled and that this must come through the delivery technique - without affecting the soundness of that technique - just more, or less propulsion while keeping that balanced fluid action - that is the aim.So that once you are reasonably adept at hitting the line that you want, begin to concentrate on achieving the required length. It is commonsense that you need to practice over all the distances that you are likely to come across, which may quite commonly vary from 19 metres to perhaps as much as 50 - 70 metres but I have to say that so often I witness entire practice evenings spent bowling over the " typical " 25-35 metres mark. It is likely that you yourself will feel more comfortable over a particular length ; however, try to resist the temptation of pursuing this length to the exclusion of all others. You must aim to be entirely confident that you can compete over any distance.One of the first things that you learn when you begin matchplay is NOT TO BE SHORT and even at this stage of your learning the game, it is betterthat you begin good habits and keep the woods up to the jack. More of this later.Practice makes Perfect : let us assume that the great amount of your early practice will take place on what will become your home green; you really need to get to know that green no matter where you are on it and you should be able to bowl both thumb and fingerpeg to the same jack and finish within a metre. I am talking about the contours of the green here, the amount the wood pegs off the crown at various quarters around the green . The beauty of this game however is that you can never take a green for granted; just when you think you are the master of it along comes a downpour and all your placements go out of the window. A couple of weeks of non stop sunshine will have you pleading for mercy as the woods race of the surface and plonk into the ditch - and this is still your home green!!.
FP : it is hard to imagine being frightened by a patch of grass but it happens!
It may be best for the beginner to practice the relatively straight marks first, say from corner to corner quite near to the edge of the green. Go around the green a couple of times, that is four ends to the circuit, and then turn, and go back in the opposite direction. Bowl one wood out thumb and the other finger, to determine the difference in which they draw to the jack. It is likely that when the bias of the wood is trying to fight the outer slope of the crown, that it is stalemate, and you finish with what is a relatively straight mark. The other bias should give you a pleasant curve to the jack and there is no nicer feeling than drawing to the jack with a toucher on a roundpeg.
 Compete with yourself and count how many you get within a metre and then do it again & again.Those are the easier marks and it is when you get out on to the crown that the fun starts when a more severe slope allied to the bias built in to the wood can give rise to some very interesting curves indeed
.FP: I thought I was past thinking about curves but some of these crowns have got curves on top of curves!!
Do not try to do too much at any one time and if you have a couple of good ends after about an hour, finish then on that high note that you can savour until next time.You have to be single minded about practice; there are many ways that you can invent to improve your game so that it does not become tedious. As an example of practising weight of shot, discard the jack & pace out lengths of 20, 30 & 40 metres and drop a marker at each; now go back to the footer and see how near you can get to each. A variation on this that is rather easier if you only have two woods, is to bowl out one, say at roughly 20 metres, and with your second try to pass it by one metre; then start again from the new position and try for 25 metres with your first wood and pass it again with your second and so on. When you have got up to 50 metres in such a way reverse the process i.e. bowl out approx. 45 metres and attempt to fall just short with your second wood and so on. Some people will take longer than others to master the control that is required to get it right but have no doubt about it - if you practice hard and often enough you will master it.
FP: trust me, I'm a doctor !
In the early days there is every chance that you will concentrate on line and your weight will be wrong or visa versa, or you will lose the smooth delivery that you were proud of because you were thinking too much of the other factors. Don't worry, it will come right eventually or at least to a degree where you can compete .And once you start to compete, you will come on in leaps and bounds.

It is most important that at this stage you acquire a copy of the current laws of the game from your club or from the area organisor of the British Crown Green Bowls Association. You may already have done so, but it really is more important now that competition looms.As a newcomer to the game you cannot be expected to remember the law in every conceivable situation but if you have a copy of the rules handy it is useful to say the least.The game is not complicated in any way and everything that you read will make perfect common sense. In these early days you will no doubt play socially with your new friends on your own green and although all bowling will be helpful, I do encourage you to play a majority of singles games, as doubles has a higher degree of tactical bowling, whereas you need to be concentrating on thedrawshot.The Drawshot: : the vast majority of deliveries or shots are made with the simple intention of drawing the wood to the jack with the optimum situation of having the two side by side or nestling together. You can draw to the jack over 19 metres or 70, with finger or thumbpeg, both with the slope of the crown and against it -- they are all draw shots and in fact I know some club bowlers, and good ones at that, that never bowl anything else but drawshots.It is certainly a fact that if you have mastered your line and length of delivery so that you are there or thereabouts consistently, then you will hold your own in most company just by attempting always to draw to the jack; however, there are other shots that can be tried that may help you to win a game, which is what it is all about.Bowl with weight : you will soon have realised during practice , and it really is only commonsense, that the curvature of the path of the wood increases as velocity decreases. Conversely, for the distance between you and the jack the greater the speed of the wood will produce the straighter trajectory to the extent that over relatively short marks the bias of both wood and crown can be overcome completely and with great weight of shot you can bowl and achieve a straight line to the target.There is a slight disadvantage because the blessed thing won't stop !.however, you can use this factor to your advantage if , for example, your opponent has the jack and has bowled a brilliant first wood.There is nothing more discouraging than seeing your opponent's wood kissing the jack - what can we do about it ?. Probably not a lot but we can try !. To attempt to do the same in drawing precisely to the jack will probably see you still lying second because he got there first. So bowl with just a little more weight and straighten your line to compensate ( remember how important it is to have a reference point for your eye so that you have a reasonable chance that your adjustment to a narrower shot will succeed ). The aim is to have just sufficient velocity to push his wood through and leave your own sitting with the jack. The beauty of this tactic is that you have three chances, the one that we have just described, the second is that if you miss the wood you may still hit the jack and run it through, and thirdly, if you miss all, you will have a wood nicely placed behind the head ( the head is the so called target area ) giving yourself the chance to run the jack through with your second wood and collect two chalks.( chalk - bowler terminology for point, as in chalked up )
FP : A likely story. I'd sooner have that first wood any day !!.
Unless the decision is to strike ( see below) it is important that you only use sufficient weight to achieve your objective because it may still be a saving wood in that it prevents you losing both chalks at that end.There is a point in bowling with weight that would be described as firing or alternatively known as striking i.e. as described above - bowling with such velocity, I might even describe it as ferocity, that the course of the wood is, or very nearly is, a straight line, and some bowlers are happier lining up with the physical target of wood or jack or both, rather than seeking a preferred line using the eye's reference point as described in some depth previously.
This is an integral part of crown green bowls and can be a very useful part of your own game but you have to have confidence to try it and perhaps more importantly the right temperament if it doesn't come off.
FP : because you look a right pratt when you miss !!.
Yes, it is something that you must practise hard to achieve with the regularity that is required. A success rating of as high as 50% is not worth the risk when you realise that a miss is effectively a wasted wood. Many would argue that you should strike only with your second wood when it would seem very difficult to win the end with a draw shot; and in practical terms this is true. On the other hand, if you are at the first end at home with your opponent's first wood a toucher 20 metres away, a confident strike with your own first wood, sending either the jack or the wood scuttling yards away, may have a salutary effect on your adversary's confidence and it may cause sufficient worry to effect the outcome.So a shot played with weight can vary between what is effectively a draw shot with a slightly narrower line and just sufficient weight to carry the target through, to a full blown fire or strike when the mandatory warning should be called to unsuspecting players, onlookers , or knitters, as the case may be, so that they may take evading action if necessary. The priority must be to remain completely in control of your delivery, as so many things can go wrong when you are preparing to bowl with real speed; the action is more likely to become jerky, your balance may not be of the best, and consequently your line may be awry. There is one thing to be sure - if you can hit your target consistently, and I mean 8 out of 10 up to a range of say 26 metres then there is not much to worry about with your delivery action
Your knowledge of the green may be such that you can turnover, i.e. change from finger to thumbpeg or visa versa in order to help ensure a straight run to the target but this is unlikely to be the case on any but your own green or until you are a seasoned campaigner on your local circuit.I appear to have spent a deal of time describing weight when it has already been admitted that it has very much a minority role to play in the game; however, much time was spent on the drawshot in " practice " and both aspects need to be appreciated as to their worth in the context ofwinning.
The Blocker or Policeman ( Bobby ) :
 The name of this shot precisely describes its purpose as it is the ONLY time that you bowl short deliberately, with the express intention of preventing your opponent from using weight against you. To have the best chance of success you obviously need to stop it precisely in the line that you believe will be used, perhaps only a couple of yards short and the purists would advocate nothing less. The argument is, and it is a good one, that if your wood is indeed hit, then it may well be pushed forward sufficiently to become another scoring shot.For the novice campaigner, who is prepared to settle for the point that he already has, on a short mark, and with an opponent who has already signalled his intention to have a go, it is very often sufficient to simply roll your wood out very short indeed ( remembering that the minimum distance is 3 metres ). It can be most off putting to be confronted with a wood almost up your nose and can be a useful ploy
.FP : I've met your sort before !!
But this will work only at a certain level. A quality bowler would simply adjust his stance and bowl around the obstacle.Remember  Every other short wood that you bowl in what I hope will become an illustrious career will be a terrible mistake !!. You cannot win anything with a short wood.
It should be a source of great satisfaction and encouragement to you that at some early stage in your development as a club bowler, that you will bowl out a beauty, a drawshot of distinction, a toucher over 35 yards and while you stand and savour the moment, consider this: no-one else could have done it better - fact 1; and so the only difference now between you and the finest players in the country is fact 2 - they can do it more often than you can, in other words they have reached a fine level of consistency . And so we are back to practice again, practice, practice and more practice.
The other thing you need is a single minded approach to your sport and, within reason of course, do not let other things come between you and your scheduled time on the green.Concentrate on what you are trying to do at all times, do not let your attention wander and if you should become distracted, take your time and reassess the situation so that you know the shot that is required and then play it with confidence and certainty.In a match situation, you will soon know whether you are up against a good opponent or not. Standing behind a player with an excellent delivery and who is finding the line is a testing time for anybody - do not crumble - stay with it - and be strong enough to win on length. If you can combine a mental toughness with a good ability then you will soon be commanding the respect of your colleagues.To test your own mental strength and resolve, analyse how many matches you win from a level across situation, say from 14 upwards, and you should be looking to win a significant majority. A refusal to be beaten is an excellent quality.A match is never lost until it is over; my own fond memory is of coming back from 3-19 down to win away from home and although I am happy to accept that our club play at a very mediocre level, the pleasure that can be generated from such a win is all the reward that you need. So never give up, it is up to your opponent to do that, it is up to you to make them wilt as you make the game swing in your favour.
Remember conversations that you have with players who you may face in the future, they may offer titbits about their own likes and dislikes over a pint, that may be worth storing away for future reference.
FP: and a good many tell lies as well !!
While on the subject of mental application it has to be said that you will come across the occasional opponent who believes that a sign of strength is to be somewhat surly in manner, a characteristic that often takes a turn for the worse should you be winning the game. Do not be put off but rejoice in your own courteous behaviour and be doubly intent to manoeuvre your way to victory.Other characteristics to look for are the ones who try and talk their way to a win, rabbiting on about all and sundry; I am never sure whether it is a sign of nerves in themselves, simply trying to be friendly, or a calculated attempt at gamesmanship; whatever, you must rise above it and concentrate harder than ever.The vast majority of crown greeners are a great crowd, friendly and humorous, but ready to give friendly stick to colleagues whose efforts are falling short of the mark. Make sure that you are not the butt of loud bellows from the pavilion " You're short !! ".Of course you will come across players who are better than you on the day, but provided that you have given it your best shot, that you have bowled as well as you are able to, then defeat will not be as hurtful.

Let us reasonably presume that you have become an able club bowler, who, on your day, provided that arthritis is not currently creating its havoc, can hold your own within the local bowling circles.
FP: You can never be lonely while Arthur Ritus is about !
You are to play a colleague of a similar standard to yourself -- how can you conjure up a win ? It may come down to who has prepared the better, in other words have a game plan that you are confident with; for example, are you going to bowl the corners knowing that your opponent prefers the shorter marks? You will obviously have preferred marks of your own - think two steps ahead as to how you can obtain that position on the green.Unless things go seriously wrong you should have command of the jack within the first few ends; make it count and concentrate on winning the next end that may then put you in favourite territory. Even on your favourite mark you may realise that your opponent is "finding the weight". Without changing the land, or mark, adjust the weight slightly to maintain the advantage for one more end and then move completely away to another mark that you feel confident with. Do not persist with your own preference if it is obvious that it also suits your opponent. We have stressed before that you must practise all marks and lengths and feel able to compete on all, and it is at just such a time, that this practise will bear fruit as you completely change the length of shot.
Referring back to delivery technique, if you have a decent swing, balance, and follow through, there should be no reason at all why you cannot master the longest corner, presuming that you are reasonably fit. This is a powerful weapon as it is not uncommon for the club bowler not to relish the longest marks. Do not be sympathetic to the puffing and panting adversary who informs you that his heart condition is playing him up. Relent and play a short mark and you may be back in the pavilion before you know what's hit you.
FP:  Do I detect that was said with feeling ?
If you are fortunate enough to have a home green with a high crown then you are really at an advantage. Your own practice should have made you adept at sending the jack out to take advantage of the slope of the crown plus the bias of the jack, giving a really pronounced curve to the mark. It is not always obvious to the visitor whether you then send the wood out with the same bias , or, in fact, turn over, as only you will know the adjustment that is required in line. It may only work once, but once may be enough to keep the advantage and the jack.Conversely, if you are the visitor, and suspicious that your opponent has turned over, then feel free to investigate by approaching the head and examining the wood for yourself. A quick word of apology for the delay is all that is required and it leaves your opponent under no illusions as to your determined nature! What is important is that you retain the ERP in your head while all this is going on.( Eye reference point -remember?
FP:  You will meet some right crafty old codgers, I can tell you.
Striking is a useful ability if you have examined the head and it appears to be the only option if it is necessary to win that end. As has been said before, you must be confident that you have an 80% chance of hitting something - and only you can know that. But having chosen this option and it fails -- do not regret it. Always try to be positive and simply determined  to hit something next time.

 And Finally:-
A few more words of advice: I have said much earlier that you will have probably wandered off to your local club and talked to the members there . Now think about it before you decide to join; if there are a number of clubs within easy reach then please try bowling on all the greens if you possibly can. I can assure you that they will vary in how they bowl, in how they are looked after, and some will be more challenging to bowl on than others, a greater crown for example and perhaps a faster surface to boot. It is my own experience that a private club with a green keeper who is a bowler, who tends his patch with loving care is preferable to some local authority greens who are maintained under contract by a company who simply wants it to look nice and green and who simply do not understand that the pleasure comes from bowling on it, not from looking at it.The above is not always the case of course but it is certainly worth thinking about before you decide. The pleasure from this sport is derived a great deal from the quality of the bowls surface.
A green with a few tricks, one with a bit of pace about it, is infinitely more pleasurable than one that bowls heavy, even after a dry spell, and is placid by nature i.e. difficult to produce a round peg on it.
We began by offering this sport as a brilliant recreation to those who have a little more time on their hands for whatever reason, those that are about to retire, or  have retired , gracefully or otherwise :-
 RECREATION :- To Refresh,  To Delight, To Amuse, To Cheer.

When all is said and done, its not the points that won the match that you remember, 
but the friendships you made along the way

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