The Sport of Bowls

Anyone can play.......and it's FUN!

The game is played by two opposing teams (or individuals in ‘singles’ play). You roll your bowls towards a small white ball called the ‘jack’, which is 70 to 110 feet away on the lawn and try to get them closer than your opponent. Teams take it in turns to roll a bowl. Bowls are allowed to hit and move the jack and they are allowed to hit and move 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 (your whole 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 in the next end and then rolls their bowl first.  The number of ends in a game varies, but 12 or 14 is typical for social bowling. Highest total score wins.

'Two to orange'

Bowls are oval, not round, and they are weighted (called the ‘Bias’) so they 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 and in fours, two. 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.

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 :-


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


Vancouver & District Bowls Association

Bowls BC

Bowls Canada Boulingrin

World Bowls Website 

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