As many of you may know, I am very passionate about the sport of tenpin bowling. So I have decided to write an opinion about bowling equipment, in the hope that I may attract a few more participants to this relatively unpopular sport. Well when I say unpopular, I mean on an advanced level, i.e. More than your typical “something to do on a Saturday night” type of person.So whether you’re involved with bowling and need more direction in what equipment to buy, or you’re thinking about becoming a league bowler, I hope you find this opinion useful.
Well firstly there are 2 main pieces you need, a ball and some shoes. Once you have got these you can start getting a little more adventurous. Your initial instinct, as mine was, will be that the first piece of equipment you need is a ball, however this isn’t the case. After all, that’s what knocks the pins down! Well, in fact its shoes that you should buy first, so here’s my advice on bowling shoes:~~ BOWLING SHOES~~
The reason these are the most important bit of kit is because, as with most things in life, you need a good platform to build on. You could have the best ball money can buy, but if your still using dodgy “house” shoes, (The ones the general public get giving), and then you will have trouble progressing.The reasons for this are pretty simple:
1. If you depend on your centre to supply the shoes, then every time you go, it’s very likely that you will get a different pair from when you last went. This will cause inconsistencies in your game, i.e. the pair you got last time may have been “worn-in” more, and therefore allowed you to slide further on the final step of your approach.
2. Nearly all centres replenish their stock of shoes on a 5-year rota-scheme. This means you could be stuck with a pair of shoes, which in effect, will have had 5 years worth of wear on them. Along with this come things such as chewing gum under foot, tears in the leather, sticky heels, and a number of other needless annoyances.
· Scenario 1 – You participate in 1 league a week, and are happy with the average you hit on a regular basis.
· Scenario 2 – You participate in more than 1 league per week, and wish to improve your average, and become a better bowler.
· Scenario 3 – You already have an average of over 175 per game, bowl in quite a few leagues, and possibly some tournaments.
Anyway, back to those scenarios.If you fit in to number 1, then I suggest you spend as little as possible on bowling shoes, indeed on bowling equipment in general, it can be a very expensive hobby!
However, even for very little money, you can get a decent pair of shoes. I would recommend the following budget class foot wear:· Any of the “AMF” lower range of shoes. These should cost you no more than £30. For more information on the available range, go to: www.amfproducts.com
They are the 2 best options available to you, but be assured, the shoes you buy, will be 10 times better than those grubby ones from under the reception desk!Now moving up a level, I would suggest you consider the following models:
· AMF “Boss”, these have the same sole, (AMF one piece), but have a higher quality upper. Made from suede and nuback, these hug your feet, and from personal experience, I can tell you these are on comfortable pair! Again go to www.amfproducts.com for more information. These will cost about £40.
· The next suggestion would be “Hawkeye” shoes. These are a copy of higher end bowling shoes, yet at a cheaper price. However, something has to give, and in this case its quality, but it should be fine. To buy these online go to: www.petesproshop.co.uk, and click on the front-page link. These will set you back £59.99 including postage and packing. These shoes have inter-changeable soles, which enable you to match the approach condition, to your shoes.
· Bowling more often demands higher quality equipment, and if you’re going to be the best, you should wan the best. So I suggest you get a pair of Dexter “SST’s”. Any model above 4 should do. All come with a more advanced level of inter-changeable sole. And the build quality is second to none. However this supremacy comes at a price. With model 4 starting at around 100 notes, and reaching up to £130 for the 6th version, you have got to be real serious to get a pair of these.
· Alternatively there is the American favourite: Lind’s Exxtra (Yes, its got 2 X’s in it, I haven’t made a spelling mistake!). Costly roughly the same as the SST’s, these again are premium equipment.
As I said, you know have your platform lets get down to business. You of course no need a ball! Or 2!~~BOWLING BALL (S)~~
Again, I shall refer to the scenarios I denoted above to aid all levels of bowlers. But s a rule of thumb, if you are a straight bower, (i.e. A bowler who puts no revolutions on the ball, and thus, doesn’t hook the ball). Then you will only require one ball. However if you do hook the ball, then I would recommend you getting 2 or more.Okay, again, lets sort those scenarios out:
Number 1 – Well, at a guess you will be throwing a straight ball, therefore you only require a polyester type ball. This is a ball made out of hard plastic and specifically designed to go straight, even when it hits the dry boards at about 40ft down the lane. Well, what’s available to you? Lots, I am happy to report! In my opinion, too much. There’s everything from plain black ones, right up to ones with skulls in them. So here goes:A plain ordinary ball, nothing fancy, just something to knock over the pins. Well there’s a multitude of ones available, but here the pick of the lot:
· AMF Boogie – Priced at about £50 including customised drilling from your local pro shop. It’s available in loads of coulours, including a favourite of mine, terra green!
· Columbia White Dot – Similar price to the Boogie, just from a different company. Go to: www.columbia300.com for more information.
· Brunswick Viz-a-ball – Have your favourite company’s logo stamped on your ball, or maybe a leopard skin one suits you better. There’s a great selection at www.brunswick.com. These cost you about £100.
· Ebonite Skull Ball – A ball made of clear resin, with a mock skull sunk in the middle of it. This is just unbelievable to see, go here for a picture: www.petesproshop.co.uk/skull_ball. It will cost you £100, but is worth every penny! Go to: www.ebonite.com for information on the entire novelty ball range
· Another site that needs a mention is www.stormbowling.com for their innovative collection of sports bowing balls.
· AMF Kick – This will cost you about £90 including drilling. This is AMF’s budget reactive ball, and if drilled with the pin, (The little white circle on the ball), in between the thumb/finger holes, will provide a considerable amount of bang for your buck.
· Storm Red Hot – This again is a lower reactive ball, designed to stay straighter when the lanes break up, i.e. Oil pattern becomes patchy. Money wise? About £60-90 depending on where you are in the country.
· Storm El-Nino X-it – This is one aggressive ball! Designed to cut through even the toughest oil patterns. You are getting the cream of the crop with this baby. However, you have to pay the price, and at £170, what a price that is!
· Storm Trauma – This is the pearl version of the above, i.e. it has a mirror finish, which makes it slide further down the lane before turning. (This is known as the break point in the world of tenpin bowling). Again you will be looking at over £150 to have this in your bag.
Well, why stop here! You know need all the other expensive, unnecessary things that make bowling such a pain in the arse!~~BOWLING BAG~~
Which one of these you buy, will of course, depend on how many bowling balls you have. (Notice how I said bowling balls, not just balls!). So how many have you got?4 balls – Wow, your getting in to the sport now aren’t you! To house your large stock of balls, there are about 4 companies who make bags this big. AMF, Brunswick, Columbia and Storm. The Storm is without doubt the best, but costs the most at £140. With the rest been about par with one another, and costing between £100 and £130.
3 balls – My advice would be to get a 4 ball anyway, just in case you get yet another ball! However, if you insist on getting a 3 baller, I suggest you spend you money on the Hawkeye option. Again, available at www.petesproshop.co.uk, and coasting a “measly” £70.2 balls – The market is flooded with designs for 2 balls bags. With wheels or not is the choice you will have to make. I suggest with wheels, then again I am a last git who can’t be bothered to carry anything! So on the wheel front the as to be only one contender, and that is the Brunswick “two-tone” bag. Costing around £70. If you opt for no wheels, (Fool), then I suggest any decent bad with a comfortable bag. Costing anyway between £30 and £40.
1 ball – Just get a bag with a strap. Costing below £15, you’re sorted! Maybe even use a rucksack. That’s what I did when I only had one ball. (Haha, funny, eh?)Hmm, what else is there, ah yes I know.
~~BOWLING ACCESSORIES~~Welcome to the realm of little tit-bits. There are literally thousands of different bowling accessories to be had. Here is a selection of them, and the ones I think no bowler should be without:
SHIRTS – I personally have a Rollrite shirt, made by my local shop and embroidered with my name. Go here for further information: www.rollrite.co.uk.TOWEL – Well, use a normal kitchen towel to save money! However if you ant something a bit more bowling related to wipe you sweaty hands on then get a company’s own brand. Ho here to view what’s on offer: http://catalog.petesproshop.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Towels_13.html
POLISH – To clean and maintain your balls with. Wahey! Just get a bottle of Master Finish that should do the trickWell, that about concludes my opinion, anything else, well maybe. I will finish with:
~~WHAT DO I USE?~~Well, I would put myself in scenario 3, and therefore tend to spend a lot on equipment! Here is what’s in my collection:
· Storm El-Nino X-It
· AMF Kick
· Columbia Messenger Tec
· Columbia White Dot
· Storm 4-ball roller. (Black/White)
Thanks for reading!James
Oh yes, one final thing, some useful links for buying, and researching online:
Hey its in the wrong category, becasue Ciao wont add mine. But theres stil enough here about Bowling Shoes, so I think ill get by!
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