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YOU SHOULD KNOW: if you plan to take up bowling

Old order changeth
Bowling was so popular in 1366 that England's King Edward III ordered it outlawed as an interference to military archery practice. Laws notwithstanding, it has survived and even flourished since the first indoor academy was built in London in 1445. In its early days in the U.S., bowling alleys were pretty unsavory places. Not so nowadays. With the formation of the American Bowling Congress in 1895, the bowlers took charge. Now, establishments are clean, well lighted and comfortable. Equipment is topnotch. Many alleys no longer have to restrict operating hours according to availability of pin-boys since American Machine & Foundry Co. developed an automatic pin-spotter that sets pins, returns balls and performs all pit services with superhuman efficiency. Today bowling is America's favorite indoor participant sport, with 20,000,000 adherents.

Unless you live in a remote rural community, you will probably find bowling more convenient than any other sport. In the first place, it is practically the only one which requires no personal equipment. The academy proprietor can supply the alleys, pins, balls, shoes, score sheet and crayon pencil—all that is needed for bowling. Most academies also serve food and refreshments and some have locker rooms, showers and even baby sitters. If you live in a city of more than 20,000 population, your classified telephone directory will almost certainly list a modern bowling establishment—there are nearly 8,000 in the U.S.—within a short ride from your home or place of business. In some parts of the country you will find duckpin bowling. This version uses small pins and small balls, and is preferred by many. In any weather and at any hour, if you feel the urge to bowl, the chances are excellent that you will find an academy to accommodate you.

To become an expert bowler takes years of training and practice. The overwhelming majority of the nation's bowlers lack the time, money, stamina or the desire to be stars, yet they have just as much fun. You will derive pleasure from your first game simply by relaxing and following some of the tips set forth herein. The initial step is to have self-confidence. It isn't as difficult as it looks to keep a ball on the alley. Girls of four and men of 90 bowl. So do the blind, the lame, and even amputees equipped with special suction cups.

...and comfort
Wear comfortable clothes which give you freedom of movement. Anything that does not hamper your stride or arm motion will do. Clothing specially made for bowlers may be purchased at any sporting goods shop or at your neighborhood academy, and if you are inclined to perspire a great deal it is a good idea to buy some. The most popular uniforms for women are gabardine dresses ($8.95 and $10.95) or gabardine skirts ($5.95) and blouses ($4.95). Men's shirts cost $5.95 and $6.95.

You should wear special shoes, which may be rented at the alleys for 10 to 25 cents. If you plan to roll regularly, it will pay to buy your own ($6.95 and $7.95 for men and women). The shoes have white rubber heels and elk-skin uppers (natural shade for men and varicolored for women). For right-handed bowlers, the sole of the right shoe is rubber, the left shoe chrome leather. It is the opposite for left-handers, so be sure to say which you are when you ask for shoes.

Almost every academy has an instructor for men and women. There is no charge, except for the "lines," or games, you roll (40 to 45 cents a game). The best way to arrange for instruction is to telephone your neighborhood academy for an appointment. Instructors usually double as floor managers and will not be available during busy hours.

The ball and you...
Joe Wilman of Berwyn, Ill., author of books on how to teach bowling as well as how to bowl, pictures bowler and ball as a graceful team. The first step, then, is to find the right ball for you. Bowling balls, made of hard rubber, weigh from 10 to 16 pounds. Most men roll 15½-to 16-pounders. Most women, depending upon their size and weight, roll from 13½ to 14½, although some use the 16-pound ball. The heavier the ball, the better chance to knock down all ten pins.

Fitting the ball...
The ball must "feel" right, and that takes perfect fitting. Balls have two or three finger holes for the thumb and middle, or thumb, middle and fourth fingers. The three-finger ball is easier to control and is recommended for beginners. Find a ball whose thumb hole is a trifle large for your thumb. Then, with your thumb in the hole, rest your palm on top of the ball across the finger holes. The knuckle of your middle finger should extend one-quarter inch beyond the inner edge of the middle-finger hole to give you the proper span. If the ball still doesn't feel right, the pitch, or angle, of the thumb hole probably is bothering you. Once you find a ball with the correct span and thumb-hole pitch, make a note of its number. It will save you time on your next visit. Having your own ball will help your game, especially if you plan to roll at more than one academy. The standard black ball costs $23.95, the mottled ball in various colors $26.95. Caution: wherever you buy it, make sure you are fitted by an expert.

Thumbnail lesson...

If you hear terms such as "spot" bowling, "alley sense" and others which mean nothing to you, don't concern yourself with them at this time. The important thing the first time you roll is to get the feel of the game. The following tips should prove useful:

STANCE—Stand four paces behind the foul line, resting the ball in the palm of your left hand. Don't rush. Wait until you feel comfortable before you start your approach.

APPROACH—Take four rhythmic steps to the foul line (the fourth step actually is a slide), starting with your right foot (or, if you are left-handed, your left). With the first step, the ball should move forward with you. The second step, it swings down at your side, starting an arc backward. The third step, the ball should be behind you, at the top of the backward arc. On the sliding step, the ball should come forward to be released. The sole purpose of the approach is to set the ball in motion, not to build up speed.

RELEASE—The ball should be released a fraction of a second after the slide step ends. You will soon find the most comfortable position for your hand as you release the ball. The best way to start, though, is to picture a clock and have your thumb at a "10 o'clock" position as you release the ball.

For detailed instructions, several fine books are available. A list may be obtained from the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, 185 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, Ill., or from the American Bowling Congress, 1572 E. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee, Wis.

A game consists of ten frames. You are allowed two balls in each frame. You should have no trouble keeping score if you remember that a strike (all ten pins with one ball) entitles you to 10 plus the number of pins you knock down with the next two balls, and a spare (all ten pins with two balls) gives you 10 plus the number of pins you knock down with the next ball. Don't be disheartened if you bowl several strikes yet fail to score well. Bowlers have discovered through the ages that it is easier to knock down ten pins than one pin. Back in 1673 William Penn wrote to Hannah Callowhill: "We were at bowls yestereen, and though I got more pins at each first roll than my friend Amzi, yet so my score was less. They do reckon outrageously...." And they still do.