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The Game of Flat Lawn Bowls.

The game of bowls is a comparatively easy game to play and is enjoyed by many thousands of people of all ages and gender around the world. Whilst bowls has its roots as being played mainly outdoors the use of synthetic surfaces is growing larger both outdoors and indoors. The facilities are specially constructed for the game and there are even portable surfaces that can be erected to play different variations of the game both outdoors and indoors, but portable rinks are used mainly indoors, the different variations include, Flat Green both outdoors and indoors, whilst Short Mat and Carpet Bowls are played mainly indoors.Bowls can provide players with open air exercise,comradship,improved mental and physical faculties.An average game can last up to 3 hours but may be shorter.Bowls can also be played at any level from Socially to the highest level of International Competition.Almost any person can play bowls regardless of any physical disabilities providing the bowl can be held and delivered by hand,but there are now certain aids on the market that can be obtained for those that are less able.  

Getting Started.

To get started you need a level playing surface,footmats,target ball (jack),flat soled shoes and a set of bowls (usually four) but there are different variations of the game which use a certain number of bowls per player. A set of bowls comes in varying sizes and weight to suit everone's individual requirement, even coloured. You can purchase your own set from various retailers etc, but it is advisable to contact a local club in your area which will normally have the facilities,equipment and if not a Club Coach then Members that are always willing to help and advise you. Most clubs will offer a membership but if you do not wish to join a local club there are plenty of Municipal Greens that you can choose to play on, they will normally have all the equipment that you would need for hire either by the hour or for a session.

The Equipment.

The Green:- The green is normally square shaped and is as close to 40 metres as is possible, but it is not unusual to get rectangular greens, each green is divided into rinks.The length of the playing surface is normally between 31 and 40 metres. The width can vary from as little as 8 metres (enough for one rink) to as much as 60 metres or more depending upon the amount of rinks required.The width of a rink for outdoor play is 4.3 metres minimum to a width of 5.8 metres maximum (the minimum width for  indoor play is 4.6 metres).The green is surrounded by a ditch which can be between 200 to 380 mm wide and between 50 to 200mm deep with a bank on its outer edge that should be at least 230 mm above the surface of the green.The side boundaries of each rink are shown by boundary pegs. The side boundary of the outside rinks (also called ditch rinks) should be at least 600 mm from the side ditch for outdoor rinks and 460 mm for indoor rinks.

The Mat:- The mat is rectangular in shape and should measure 600 mm x 360 mm.In these modern times the mat comes in various colours.

The Jack:- Also known as the "Kitty" is usually white or yellow in colour and should be a solid sphere, they vary in size and weight:- Outdoor jacks should be 63 or 64 mm in diameter and 225g to 285g in weight. Indoor jacks should be 63 to 67 mm in diameter and 382g to 453g in weight.

The Bowls:- A set of bowls is normally made up of four bowls. Bowls should be made of wood (lignum vitae), rubber or plastic resin (called composition or plastic bowls).They can be of any colour provided that they are approved by WB (World Bowls). Bowls may be ungripped or indented with grooves or dimple style grips which is done at the manufacturing stage.Wooden bowls should measure between 116 mm to 134 mm at their widest point and weigh no more than 1.59 kg. Rubber or Plastic bowls should measure between 116 mm to  131 mm at their widest point and weigh no more than 1.59 kg. Bowls are not round they have what is called a "bias" so they run on a curved line. One side of the bowl is "weighted" ("the bias") and the bowl curves towards the bias. As well as different sizes of bowls there are bowls that have different biases that make their travelling path wider or narrower.Every set of bowls has an individual serial number as well as an identifying logo. A Working Reference Bowl will have a bias approved by WB.All bowls shall have a bias that is not less than that of A Working Reference Bowl and should be imprinted with the registered World Bowls Stamp.All bowls should be tested and re-stamped at least once every ten years to check the accuracy of the bias and the visibility of the World Bowls Stamp.

Shoes:- Shoes must be heeless, Flat and smooth soled only


There are also other pieces of equipment that players may or may not carry:- Bowls cloth for cleaning your bowls during a game, Chalk may be solid or spray for marking bowls that have come into contact with the jack, Measure for measuring which players bowl is nearest to the jack when the nearest bowl cannot be determined by natural eyesight, Wedges these may be made of wood or rubber and are used to support the bowl or bowls that are being measured, Hat or Cap and Waterproof Clothing. to name but a few of the many accessories that are available.

Object of the Game.

The object of the game is to get one or more of your own or team's bowls closer to the jack than your opponent or opponents. Each type of game has a specified number of shots or ends that must be scored or played to determine the winner or winners. Games can be played in the following formats:- Singles one player per team first to score 21 shots wins, Pairs two players per team,21 ends to be played,team with highest score wins, Triples three players per team, 18 ends to be played,team with highest score wins,or Fours four players per team 21 ends to be played, team with highest score wins.The above are the formats that are most commonly used, but any format can be adjusted accordingly especially if inclement weather sets in. Normally the number of bowls per player is determined by the number of  players in the team for example:- 1 Player = four bowls, 2 Players  =   four bowls each, 3 Players = three bowls each and 4 Players = two bowls each. But there are many variations of the game and the number of bowls a player can have is determined by which game is being played i.e. 2 Wood Singles = two woods per player. Each player has a position in the team:- Pairs = Lead and Skip, Triples = Lead, Two (the Second) and Skip, Fours = Lead, Two, Three (the Vice) and Skip. The Skip is the person who directs the play of his/her team during the game.

General Information.

As with all sports there are a set of rules that everybody has to follow without exception. Physically and Visually (with either the help of a Guide or a String laid down the middle of the rink) Challenged People including those in Wheelchairs play by the same Laws.                                                              

World Bowls is the Governing Body for the sport of bowls, its headquarters are in Scotland.They publish The Laws of the Sport of Bowls which is kept regularly updated. In this country each County has its own Governing Body which follow these rules but they can have their own rules as well (Constitution), each Club within a County has to abide by both sets of rules but they may also have their own Constitution. 

The World Bowls website contains a great deal of information as well as links to member National Organisations and other relevant organisations. You can access their site through this link:-