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So You Want To Bowl!

If you’re serious about the sport, there no reason you can’t be a fine bowler

The first bowler may well have been Neanderthal Man hurling a rounded chunk of wood at an assortment of dinosaur bones. We don’t know for sure. We do know, however, that implements of a game much like our modern tenpins were found in the tomb of an Egyptian child who lived in the year 5200 B. C.

Bowling, as we know it, was actually born of a 3rd century Christian rite. It was the custom of European canons to have parishioners set up pins at one end of a cloister. These represented the heide, or heathen. The parishioner was then given a ball to throw at the heide. A hit indicated the clean-living thrower was capable of slaying the heathen. A miss suggested that more faithful attendance at services would help his aim.

At the end of the “test,” a dinner was given and successful “keglers” were toasted. Those who had failed were encouraged to try again.

As time went on, larger balls were substituted for the smaller ones originally used. Uniformly-shaped pins and definite rules eliminated the haphazard element, although the number of pins varied widely.

By the Middle Ages, bowling was firmly established as a popular game and the more exuberant spirits expressed their delight with life by taking a festive whack at the pins. Bowling matches were often part of wedding celebrations and of baptisms.

So popular did bowling become that King Edward III, fearful lest bowling displace archery in the hearts of Englishmen —thus weakening the military spirit— issued a proclamation against this “dishonorable, useless and unprofitable” game. A little later, Parliament outlawed bowling.

The Rennaissance witnessed a change in attitude. Believing it was a beneficial and moral game, Martin Luther became enthusiastic and even built a bowling alley for his own youngsters. Experience convinced him that ninepins was the ideal game, and this became the standard for the sport in Germany.

Sir Francis Drake was an ardent bowler. When informed that the supposedly invincible Spanish Armada was nearing the English Channel, he refused to stop a match game in which he was participating. “There is time enough,” he is supposed to have said, “to win the game and beat the Spaniards.”

In reality, Drake’s “recklessness” was part of his strategy to delay attack until the Armada was jammed into the narrowest part of the Channel.

When the American Bowling Congress first came into being, the game knew only limited popularity. A woman who even-thought of bowling was considered far too bold. Certainly that was a far cry from today when almost everyone bowls. Well over 24 million now bowl in leagues and open play.

Looks inviting, doesn’t it? It is. But decide whether you want to participate for the great sport bowling is, or merely to keep up With Joneses.

Don’t be disappointed ii that “sure” strike doesn’t become one in fact. You’re 60 deceptive feet from the No. 1 pin and pins are 12 inches apart.

Origins of our sport are lost in time. Abe Lincoln was known to doff jacket for an afternoon of relaxation at bowling lanes in relatively recent years.

Sir Francis Drake is said to have engaged in a match game in 1588—and refused to halt it—though Spanish Armada neared English Channel.

So you are one of them—or want to be? Why? Stop and think about it for a few seconds. Do you want to keep up with your new girl or boy friend who already has taken to the sport? Do you merely want to do as the Joneses do? Or do you really want to learn how to bowl because you know it to be a tremendous sport? If you really want to bowl, there’s no reason you can’t become a fine bowler.

Ours is an unusual sport, to say the least. There are lots of times when you are certain your delivery will be a strike. The ball appears headed for a perfect hit in the 1-3 or 1-2 pocket. Pins No. 8 and 10 or another combination remain standing and you can’t understand why. You’re sure you were robbed of a well-earned strike.

But there is one thing every person should know. And the best way to learn it is to ask the manager of your local lanes for permission to walk down and see the pins close-up.

You’re going to be in for a bit of a surprise. The center of each pin is 12 inches away from the center of the pin standing next to it. This is a long way for a pin to travel and travel in exactly the same manner each time.

You’re 60 feet away from the No. 1 or head pin when the ball meets the pins and there are many times when what looks to be a perfect hit is a fraction of an inch off. You’re too far away to tell the difference.

On a perfect “book” strike, the ball carries into the 1-3 pocket, deflects to the left of No. 3 into No. 5 and then to the right into No. 9 and drops into the pit. The No. 1 pin moves to the left into No. 2, No. 2 carries on into No. 4 and No. 4 carries out No. 7.

Members of Dutch aristocracy bowl skittles in the 17th century in view made from a fa-mous painting. Note nine pins: number used often changed.

“They reckon outrageously,” said William Perm of this 1673 session. “I got more pins at each first roll than my friend Anzl, yet even so my score was less.”

No. 5 carries out No. 8, No. 3 carries out No. 6 and No. 6 carries out No. 10. (In the diagram on page 15, the completed line shows the path of the ball while the dotted line shows how the pins should move).

The 8-10 split is one of the real punishers. When you leave this combination up, you probably missed a perfect strike by less than a quarter of an inch. Your ball carried into No. 5 just a fraction too light and the pin went shooting across in front of No. 8. Because your ball was too light on the head pin or No. 1, the No. 6 did not carry directly toward No. 10 and went around it.

Since it is necessary for several of the pins to move in a straight line in order to collect a strike, a bowler should realize how easy it is for one or two pins to remain standing even though his hit looks perfect from 60 feet.

These facts are pointed out merely to keep you from being discouraged when you don’t carry hits you think should have been strikes.

It’s a long way from a 153 average to 200. Don’t overlook the fact that if you are the average male bowler, your scores during the past season averaged 153. The average score for women was about 130.

You have probably watched our AMF champions in action, on television or in a tournament. Maybe you’ve seen them spill the pins in league. If you are an average bowler, you have probably been amazed by the ease with which these stars score 200 and better, how they chalk up 700 series and occasional 800s.

Remember one thing: the only reason you are classified as an average bowler is because you have decided that’s what you want to be. Chances are that if your average is under the recognized average score it’s because you are strictly a beginner, or just aren’t interested. The only reason you go to the lanes at all is because one of your friends is on your team. When the season started you told your friend you’d bowl and you don’t want to let him or her down.

But let’s assume you really want to improve your game. If that’s the case, this book has been prepared just for you. If you’ve read this far, it seems certain you really want to improve.

This book starts out with a study of equipment—the ball and shoes you need. Their cost certainly isn’t prohibitive and you’ll be surprised how much confidence it will give you to be able to say, “I have my own ball and shoes.” Stance is next discussed which carries with it the idea of being comfortable.

Delivery is next and your panel of AMF champions will give you advice on each type—three, four, five or more steps.

Ability to shrug oft poor game is one difference between average bowler, star such as Lee Jouglard.

Action of the ball is another important phase which will be considered from every angle. Do you want to throw a curve, hook, straight or back-up? Laying the ball down, or its release, is a phase which merits the most careful study. What your stars put on the ball when they release it is what makes the difference between a strike and an 8-10 or 5-10 split.

There are many types of backswing. In most cases, you’ll find it an individual problem. Unusually high backswings certainly don’t come on the preferred list.

Your panel of champions will devote considerable space to letting you in on the favored method of making the usual spare combinations; those formations which have been giving you trouble and keeping your score down. By converting two extra spares a game you’ll be taking the short cut to 20-pins-a-game improvement.

Spot bowling will be outlined in an individual chapter while still another will advise on reading a lane.

Some of our present day bowlers lift the ball in its release, while others turn it. Some bowlers actually don’t know whether they lift or turn the ball.

However, one thing is readily discerned the overturn. When a bowler overturns a ball, he or she is in for trouble. About the only thing which happens when you put too much actual lift on the ball is that it finishes too strong.

Perfect “book” strike. Solid line indicates the path of the ball; dotted line how the pins should move.

The juniors of today are the bowlers of tomorrow. And these juniors need the best possible help—good sound teaching. That’s what is in store for you juniors in one of the following chapters. If you can dance, you can bowl.

What happens when you get a strike will be brought to you in actual pictures rather than just a diagram.

Every star has had his or her embarrassing moments, as well as outstanding thrills. And it’s the ability of any star to accept the bad with the good and be able to laugh it off.

One of the real major differences between the star and those of. you who are in the 170 to 180 average bracket is the ability to shrug off a bad game. Every champion runs into an occasional game in the low 100s. All it takes is three or four splits, a couple of nine or eight counts, perhaps one miss and even a champion has a 140 game.

Hank Marino of Milwaukee, a member of the ABC Hall of Fame and one of the few retired unbeaten match game champions of the world, will never forget a 114 game he once bowled in league. Marino had more splits in that game than he’d had misses during the month previous.