Carpet bowling at the Friendship centre, Vanderhoof. Shawn Pyy photo

The fine art and sport of carpet bowling

Out and About Column with Shawn Pyy

When we hear the word “Bowling” it is seldom carpet bowling that we think of. Carpet bowling is a sport much like curling but more similar to lawn bowling, which is no doubt where it came from. Devoted lawn bowlers who were forced to give up their beloved sport for the duration of the winter were the ones, no doubt, who moved their sport indoors and continued on with the original variation of carpet bowling.

While the name ‘carpet bowling’ may make it sound like a simple game to be played at home in your living room, this is, in fact, misleading. Having tried it myself it is anything but simple to play. It requires learning the art of bowling the balls not too hard in precisely the right direction and definitely not too softly or it won’t go anywhere.

The carpet has a box shape of 18 inches marked for the players to throw from but they must also avoid an obstacle which is either a circle on the carpet or a block in their aim. The bowling balls are designed so they are weighted or biased on one side which means the balls will arc or curl in one direction when thrown, and if thrown wrong they will curl off the carpet and completely out of the game.

The game depends greatly on learning the technique of accurately throwing the balls with just the right amount of force towards the smaller unbiased target ball named a ‘jack’. Each team of four to eight players has four bowling balls and there are two teams per carpet. The object of the game is for each team to get their bowling balls nearest to the jack to gain points.

Carpet bowling isn’t given the credit or respect it deserves as the challenging sport it is because those who know nothing about the game merely assume it to be child’s play and not serious sport. However, it has a great history played by royalty and once upon a time King Henry the eighth put a ban on it so that no one could play the game at their own home. But it survived, none the less, and in some places it is a popular game for raising revenue for community centres and halls. Such as the Friendship Centre in Vanderhoof, where seniors play carpet bowls twice a week.

To gain a full appreciation for the game take the opportunity to try playing it because reading about or watching from the sidelines just doesn’t do this tricky little noble game justice.

Vanderhoof Omineca Express

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