The following article, is written by John Honeyford and is a continuation of one of my previous articles on the testing completed by the USBC for the BPAC. The topic about this testing really seems to have created some talk about how 5pin is, how it was and how people think it will be. This means that so far, the articles on this site seem to be doing what I intended them to do: make people talk about 5pin bowling. I've decided to change things up a bit and run an article every Monday, leaving every Thursday for a new feature called "20 Questions" and also for posting recent results in tournaments across Canada. To those who have approached me to talk about this site, either to simply talk about it or to offer some assistance, I thank you and encourage everyone to keep doing so. As I tell everyone I talk to, I only write what I think, and post up other contributor's articles without knowing what anyone else thinks of them. Hearing that people are enjoying these articles, learning from them, or simply trying to apply what is being said is a great compliment, and only encourages me to continue this idea, and look for ways to expand it further. Here is this week's article on the more dynamics regarding 5pin bowling by John Honeyford!
I will endeavor to expand on some of the points that Jeff has mentioned very effectively in his posting regarding the research that the Bowl Canada undertook with the USBC. As some of you know I have been interested in the technology of the game for many years, from the years I spent working in the business and 35-odd years of playing the game competitively (I won’t talk about the last couple).
Bowler’s styles are a function of their learning environment, combined with their physicality and personality. Imagine going into a time warp and walking into a major tournament in progress back in 1975. The major difference that you would notice, besides the hair and the polyester, is the speed of balls going down the lanes. They were a bit SLOWER.
Why? The game was played with hard wood pins, PBS bands and primarily on lacquer lane surfaces. Brunswick Tiger Stripe, Double Diamond and PBS house balls were on the racks, all the same hardness. Roughly 75% of the houses (talking Southern Ontario) were still thankfully freefall (don’t get me started). The need for speed just wasn’t there, and on Double Diamond pinsetters in particular, not such a bright idea. If silicone spray was used to help get the pins around the pressure curve in the machine (in the YouTube videos – it is the steel wheel-driven curve on the left side) some exciting vertical pin fall displays could be experienced. At any YBC event you could instantly tell which kids played in Double Diamond houses just by watching them throw a ball. They were at medium speed and rolling, and mostly down the middle 10 boards of the lane. The Fleetwood lanes were/are also 42” wide, characterized by 2 additional boards, inside third arrow on each side, with the headpin arrow offset one board to the left. (Cobourg actually has both 42 and 41-inch lanes).
As years passed, more houses converted to string machines, and in the late 80’s plastic pins were introduced. Beyond the economic benefit of plastic pins there was a distinct change in the nature and manner with which the game was played. The density of plastic pins was more generally helpful to a harder thrown ball in the string environment. In the Double Diamond world, the increased gyration of free-standing pins can still make the faster ball a liability, but we were also introduced to personal bowling equipment at this time which is another factor to consider.
Jeff mentioned the point about the full-sized ball in his posting. A full-sized ball strikes the pin at mid-point on the band, which promotes lateral movement in both string and freefall worlds. Some other variables are angle of attack to the pin, band resilience, pin base condition, ball hardness, weight, ball roll, and retained energy due to friction from the lane.
I am no physics expert, but as some are aware I have been engaged in a bit of bowling ball ’fun’ since 1998 when I met Lionel Beauparlant, who had worked for General Tire in Welland, the maker of the Brunswick, Double Diamond, and PBS installation balls. He turned and refinished balls for houses, and that was a memorable number of visits that we made to him. I have gone on to give some classes in recent years on bowling balls at the O5 Bowling School, and a number of competitive players too.While we do not have the ball dynamics of the 10-pin game, which with walled lanes has caused total havoc (233 USBC sanctioned 300 games in Buffalo last year alone), we do have some different options in our game.
Different types of balls aren’t crutches, just tools to do the job. Sort of like tires – all season radials, snows for the winter. Some are harder, so they will skid more in the front part of the lane (that most people will perceive but won’t see) and then roll. Some are softer, so they see friction on the lane and roll earlier, and acrylics which are quite porous, sensitive to side roll put on the ball, and can actually flare and roll-out at the pins. The heavier ball deflects less (I tried 3 lb 12 oz duckpin balls on Double Diamond freefall machines and lacquer once, 4 beautiful sets of Aces) and in the old days 3-8 was the maximum weight in the CBA rule book (wood pins, and pin boys). Once you get down to 3-6 the risk of not carrying can ensue, with the ball jumping off pins and potentially jumping past the corner - a function of resistance. The lighter balls were less an issue in the wood pin days, though at slow speed they’d jump too if the bands resisted.
It is just important to understand the shape that a bowler wants to see the ball take on the lane surface be it straight or breaking, and by reacting to and not penalizing oneself by using something that doesn’t carry due to the scoring environment at hand. An example would be having a desired ‘A’ game with a couple of boards of movement, then struggle to score by throwing hard-shelled balls on very fast lanes (or the reverse). This is why it was often a benefit to see full-sized house balls in a fast Double Diamond house in the pre-1990 days to keep the pins down and in play (but then again I shot 270 at O’Connor one year with the small balls but I had to spin them, so in that case it was sort of like watching Bullwinkle - watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat).
Our Duckpin cousins in the U.S. tend to have their ball preferences too. Comets, which are a hard shelled ball that hit the pins very hard, and Ebonite Prolines and Arrow balls which are soft and tend to create more lateral pin motion. In Petites Quilles, they use combinations of ball hardness and weight, coupled with backspin rotation on fully oiled lanes, and softer gray bands also used on certain pins to reduce deflection. The backspin is used to reduce the ball deflection, and they want the ball to stop rotating backwards right at the pins to enhance this.
I know that I have expanded on Jeff’s thoughts like a waistline at Mary Brown’s, but kudos to Jeff for launching this blog.