Hans Takes Up Short Mat Bowling



  Having been a member of RBBG (Rochester Blind Bowling Group) for only a few months, I am weighing up whether I enjoy indoor bowling (as at Prince Arthur Indoor Bowling Club) or outdoors, either at Cranborne, where we practise, or at each of the clubs we have visited for matches, during this summer season. On balance, I probably prefer the latter – especially as we have been fortunate enough to have had good weather, most of the time. The majority of our members would not contemplate playing indoors and outdoors at the same time, as the conditions are so different to get used to.

  However, in a chance conversation with a neighbour, I learned that there was an indoor club, which meets twice a week, in the next village to my own. I joined the club and turned up for my first session – only to find that the hall was in use as a polling station and that bowling had been cancelled! A week later, though, I tried again – and was welcomed into the fold.

  The mat, when unrolled, is only aroung 15 yards in length and a mere 2 yards in width. The jack is placed on a marked line (about 12-13 yards from the bowler), bowl too short or off the mat and the shot is out of bounds – bowl too long and the wood will arrive in a section of the mat known as the ditch! This makes bowling tough, yet things get harder, for half-way up the mat, a wooden block is place as an obstacle to add to the need for accuracy and control. (Hitting the block incurs a hefty fine of up to 20p, which goes to a local charity).

  This is not a game needing maximum strength, but care and a little guile. There is little room for manoeuvre, as 2 yards width is extremely tight – once a wood leaves the mat, it doesn’t come back. During a session we play about 20 – 24 ends. A cup of tea is served up at half-time, so we can all enjoy a welcome break.

  At the end of the afternoon, the equipment is put away;; the mats must be rolled up (tidily), and along with end-guards, blocks and bowlers’ mats are stored, securely, under the stage.

  Despite the difficulty of not seeing too well, I generally only hit the block two or three times per session, my woods (usually) stay on the mat and my play is improving, slowly but surely. Apart from the fact that I am enjoying this version of the sport, I think it is having a positive effect on my bowling, rather than an adverse one. One other plus is that I have met a great bunch of people who are good friends and a laugh to be with.


Ditch Area


Play Line

Wood block sits here->

Bowler's Mat


  The Short Mat, about 15 yards in length, is pre-marked. The bowler's mat sits in a fixed place. The jack is placed at any point along the line by the skip whose team won the last end (or won the toss).

  When a wood is bowled, it must stay on the mat, must not hit the wood block, must pass the play line and must not go past the ditch line. The object is to bowl woods as close as possible to the jack, within the play area - quite tricky!

  In the example, (shown right), each player has used 3 woods. Blue has bowled one wood short, so it does not count.

  Black has bowled one wood into the ditch, so that does not count - had it touched the jack, on its way through, then it would still be live.

  Of the woods which are in the legal area, Black is nearest, but Blue is 2nd wood, so the score is 1 to Black.


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