The players must stand on a rubber mat when delivering their bowl. The mat is placed on the centreline of the rink with its front end no less than 2m from the rear ditch or less than 25m from the front ditch. Its position is chosen by the player who throws the jack to start the end. During an end the bowl nearest to the Jack is referred to as "the shot". You may hear players on the mat asking, "who is lying the shot?". The player who first delivers the jack must ensure that it is properly centred. If it comes to rest within two metres from the front edge of the green it must be moved out to a mark at that distance. The player delivering the jack can choose the length to play it, but it must finish at least 23m in a straight line of play from the front edge of the mat. The players then take turns to deliver their bowls. When all the bowls have been delivered the number of "shots" is counted. A shot is a bowl which is nearer the jack than any of your opponents bowls. For example, if you have three shots nearer the jack than any of your opponents bowls you score three shots at that end. Games of bowls can involve singles play or teams of two in pairs, three in triples or four in "rinks" games. Matches generally involve a number of teams from one club playing another club. For example a match could involve six rinks or 24 players (6x4) per team. The jack can be moved by the bowls during play. When a bowl moves the jack it is left in the new position provided it remains within the rink boundary markers. It can also be pushed into the ditch by a bowl. In this case it remains in the ditch and the players must try to play their bowls as close as possible to the jack, at the edge of the green, without falling into the ditch. A bowl which moves the jack is marked with chalk and classed as a "Toucher". If it touches the jack before falling into the ditch it stays there, remains "live" and may feature in the final shot count. A toucher that remains on the rink and is later driven into the ditch by another bowl is also a live bowl. A bowl that goes into the ditch and that has not touched the jack is classed as being "dead" and it is removed. All bowls which finish outside the side boundaries of the rink are dead.
Bowls is a highly tactical game. This is one of its attractions. It is not always about "drawing" closest the jack. Players must constantly anticipate what shot their opponents may play. For example when a team has a few bowls behind the head, (behind the jack), the opposing team may see the need to place a bowl amongst these to cover the possibility of the jack being moved. Similarly, if one side is already lying the shot, they may elect to play a guarding shot short of the target area to prevent their opponents from moving anything. These are only two examples and there are many other situations, too many to discuss here, where tactics come into play.
Can I use any Bowls, to play in a team I have Just joined?
a. Broadly speaking yes - BUT they MUST be, or from, a matched set of 4, i.e. the same Make / Colour/Size/Weight/Engraving/ Serial Number, and each with a Legal Date Stamp,
What happens if a Bowl is damaged during a game?
a. It may be replaced from the same set, but if using 4 bowls you need to replace the whole set to continue.
If I win the toss to start a game must I play first?
a. No - You have the choice to either do so, or ask your opponent to do so. Note however that if this first end is eventually 'burned' or a 'no shot', the player who played first shall again do so to replay it.
How many trial ends are allowed, and where must the Mat and Jack be placed?
a. If agreed to be played, not more than 1 in each direction, (they are not mandatory), no 'must' positions as such - can be placed anywhere within normal limitations.
Are you alowed to change, or try out different Bowls, during trial ends?
a. Yes - You can also start the game with a different set providing they have been checked and passed beforehand.
Can any member of a Team : (1) deliver the Jack, or (2) mark the scorecard, or (3) measure shots? a. (1) No- only the Lead. (2) Yes - but the SKIP must carry it throughout the game and compare scores with the opposition SKIP after each end, (3) Yes - as delegated by the Skip, but this is usually the Third.
I deliver the Jack and it strikes someone going up the Rink, what happens?
a. (1) If it was an opponent or neutral person (or object) that was struck, - you re-deliver it-or (2) If it was one of your own team that was struck, - your opponent re-delivers it, and can re-position the mat to do so if they wish. No matter who it is however, the winner of the last 'scoring' end delivers the 1st bowl.
Must I have two feet on the Mat to deliver Jack or Bowls?
a. No - but one must be on, or in the air over the Mat, at the moment of delivery.
Is there a time limit for a bowl to be a 'Toucher',
i.e. comes to rest then falls over to touch the Jack? a. Yes - it must make contact before the next Bowl to be played leaves the player's hand, or if it is the last Bowl to be played; this must be within 30 seconds of it coming to rest.
Is there a time limit for marking a 'Toucher'?
a. Yes - It must be marked with 'chalk', or ('nominated' to the opposing Skip, if that act might cause it to topple) before the next bowl played comes to rest, otherwise it ceases to be a Toucher'.
What if the Jack is in the ditch and is touched by, or stops, a newly delivered bowl?
a. The Bowl becomes 'dead'. A Bowl can never become a Toucher after the Jack is in the ditch.
What does 'Rink Possession actually mean?
a. Once the Bowl currently in play comes to rest, the player who delivered it must be either at the back of the Mat, or up at the Head, because at that moment 'Possession of the Rink' passes to the opposing Team. and the Team not in possession may not hold up, nor distract in any way, the player about to play.
What happens if a Bowl, or the Jack, rebounds from the bank back onto the Rink?
a. If a 'Non Toucher', it becomes a dead bowl, and any bowls disturbed by it are restored as near as possible to their oriinal position by a member of the opposing Team. A Toucher', and / or the Jack, remains in play and disturbances caused by them are legal and valid.
What if I play one of my opponent's Bowls by mistake?
a. Nothing happens - once at rest, mark its position and angle, replace it exactly with yours and return it to its owner.
What happens if I play before my turn?
a. If the bowl is on its way, the opposing Skip can stop it and return it to be played in the proper sequence. If it is not noticed until it comes to rest, providing it is (a) still "live" and (b) has not disturbed the Head. The player, who should have played, plays 2 bowls in succession, to restore the proper sequence, If, however, it has disturbed the Head, the opposing Skip has 3 options: - (a) Leave things as they are and have his/her player play two Bowls in succession, or (b) Replace the Head to its original position and return the bowl, -to be re-played in its proper turn, or (c) Declare the end dead