top of page

The Sport of Bowls

The game is played by two opposing teams or individuals in singles play. Bowls are rolled towards a small white ball called the jack, which is 70 to 110 feet away on the green, with the purpose of trying to get the bowls closer than their opponent. Teams take it in turns rolling a bowl. Bowls are allowed to hit and move the jack and to hit and move the opponent’s bowls. When all of the bowls have been delivered that is called an end.

At the completion of each end, one point is awarded for each of your bowls or your team's bowls that are closer to the jack than the opposing team’s closest bowl. The winning team in each end gets to roll the jack first in the next end.  The number of ends in a game varies, but 12 or 14 is typical for social bowling. Highest total score wins.

Head of bowls.jpg

'Two to orange'

Bowls are oval, not round, and they are weighted, called the bias, so they move in a curve, when rolled towards the jack - therein lies the mystique of the game. Judging the arc that bowls travel is an art that improves with practice but remains elusive, causing both joy and frustration and leading to differing strategies of play. The arc is influenced by the bias of the bowl and the condition of the grass, which can change as the game progresses.

The game of bowls can be played in a singles, doubles, triples or fours format. Generally, in singles and doubles, each player rolls four bowls. In triples, three is generally the preferred number, while just two bowls are rolled in fours. Some pair’s events now limit the number of bowls to three per player and some triples events specify two bowls per player. Except in singles, each team has a skip, who establishes strategy, directs play and calls for specific shots to be made by his teammates.

The game is easy to learn but difficult to master. It is active but not physically taxing.

It is a game that has been around for centuries but the first set of rules was created in Scotland in 1848. Bowls can be addictive as one interesting historic note illustrates; King Henry VIII outlawed bowls because too many were playing it and ignoring archery practice, which he deemed to be a risk to national security.

Useful Links :

Vancouver & District Bowls Association

                             Bowls BC

                                                               Bowls Canada Boulingrin


                     World Bowls Website



To see a copy of 'Laws of the Sport of Bowls - Crystal Mark Third Edition Version 3.1  Click Here

To see a copy of ‘Revisions to the Laws of the Sport – Crystal Mark Third Edition'  Click Here

video link button.jpg
bottom of page