Bowls truly is the sport for all - all ages, all sexes and all abilities, writes Mary Ann Dowrick.

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It is a game that takes just a few hours to learn - and the rest of your bowling career to master!

With more than 2,500 clubs across England, our area of East Devon has clubs in Topsham, Budleigh Salterton, Seaton, Sidmouth, Honiton, Exeter and two fine clubs in Exmouth.

Bowls is a relatively cheap game compared to other sports, whether you choose to join a club or pay and play at your local park.

Like many games, the object of bowls is essentially simple. It can be played by anyone, but to play consistently well demands determination, concentration and practice. Bowls is played indoors as well as outdoors.

When outdoors, the game is played on a square of closely cut grass called the green, which is divided into playing areas called rinks.

The green is surrounded by a small ditch to catch bowls which leave the green, and a bank upon which markers indicate the corners and centrelines of each rink.

Players take turns to deliver their bowls from a mat at one end of the rink towards a small white ball called the jack at the other end. The bowls are shaped so that they take a curved path towards the jack.

To be successful the bowl must be delivered with the correct weight, along the correct line.

The object is to get one or more of your bowls closer to the jack than those of your opponents on each end - one point is scored for each counting bowl.

Indoors bowls follows the same play, but it is played on carpeting.

Beginning bowlers will need coaching which most clubs offer at a minimal price. They will also need ‘bowls clothing’ and woods. Clothing usually consists of a pair of white and grey trousers/crops, a white shirt and bowls shoes.

Woods and clothing may be purchased second hand. Second hand woods may be bought for as little as £35 or as much as £250 pounds for the latest Hensilite Tigers.

Most clubs offer a social side as well. Themed evenings, winter lunches, summer barbecues, coffee mornings are all part and parcel of most clubs.

Many indoor clubs have accommodations for disabled bowlers. On Open Days new bowlers are welcomed to try out the sport. The Exmouth Madeira Bowling Club will host their next Open Day for new bowlers on September 8, from 10am until 3pm.

All are welcome. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear, woods will be provided.

Why hot get yourself along and give it all a try, you may well never regret it!


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