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Comment and interesting reading from Col Griffin of Jindalee

What is the best bowling arm (for you)?

The first thing worth remembering is you cannot push a bowl with a bowling arm so if you have been a “pusher ” bowler you will need to become a “swinger”.

So try before you buy may not be the best advice depending on your disability and experience.

The most important thing is to get the right length arm to suit you.

Most people talk about the different release mechanisms but for me the “how we have to hold the bowl in place before the release” is at least as important as the release itself.

Bowlers with all registered bowling arms can learn to get “touch” and play great games.

Subject to marketing, the cheapest is the Dart Release, then the Bowling Arm (or equivalent) and around the same price is the Bionic Arm and then the most expensive is the arm that looks like a hacksaw (aka DHB)

All the arms have quirks that the players “sort out” as they learn to use them.
But at the end of the day, how you deal with the quirks just becomes part of your game.

The Bionic Arm is well suited to players who want a spring to hold their bowl in the arm. the release is a light trigger or thumb pressure. The Bionic arm is reverse acting to hand bowling, it is squeeze to release, whereas hand bowling is open your hand to release the bowl.

The other brands have no bowl holding spring so those bowlers who want the feel of gripping their bowl, albeit remotely, might prefer other brands (not Bionic)

The hacksaw is ultra lightweight, I have only played one game with a hacksaw and I still do not know if lightweight is an advantage because the others are not particularly heavy. The Hacksaw has a lot of trigger movement to provide a soft clamping tension (compared to the bowling arm and the Dart Release)

The Dart Release requires a firm grip to hold the bowl in place, but you do not have to be a muscle man or work out in a gym, it is just firm compared to the Hacksaw. Col
Question from Mike Carmody, Darwin Bowls Club, Northern Territory. 

I am an armed bowler who plays for the Darwin Bowls Club in the N.T.
I have just come back from the over 60’s sides championships as the first ever armed bowler to make the N.T. over 60’s side.
There are a few of us who would like to investigate how we might be able to join in Armed Bowling competitions and Championships from the N.T.
Any information would be gratefully received.


ABA Suggestion

Contact the State “Controllers” of the National Event.

Question/Observation from from Col Griffin of Jindalee

What has anyone else observed re No Doctor Certificates needed?

“I have not seen any dodgy bowlers pick up an arm, and there are plenty of bowlers in my club who drop bowls and should be using an arm – one was even banned from going back to a club with carpet.

I expect that the Australian Medical Association should be pleased that we have stopped wasting their time.

Anyway, how about some feedback on the success or failure of No Med Certs.”

My Opinion – ABA

I’m NOW of the opinion, as a Coach, and on recent observation, that four things are happening or should.

  1. We have more interest from the disabled and slightly impaired community. They can start “with an arm”. I’ve Coached 3 in 3 months, and I’ve met more out and about.
  2. We have removed the “cheating stigma”, almost!
  3. There are some I would recommend transfer to an arm and they are more open to it now after struggling for years and …
  4. There are some who physically are NOT built for bowls! i.e. It is almost impossible for a very tall person, a very broad person or a person with short arms to play well. They simply cannot “collapse” low enough to deliver seamlessly. Their necks are at right angles or twisted sideways to see where they are going and their backs curved.

I know there are exceptions, don’t get me wrong here.  BUT for these people I suggest you start with an arm if your Coach feels this will turn you into the bowler you aspire to be. Otherwise these people languish and leave unrequited, when they could have achieved at the highest level.


Question from Des Skinner, Beresfield Bowling Club, NSW. (Former Bowls Australia President 2012-15)

“Following on from the BA ruling of 1 May 2019 that bowlers Arm players no longer need medical certificates or some sort of State/Territory Approval, can you advise if any of the State Authorities still maintain records of their Arm Players?”
Thanks, and Regards
Answer: ABA
Thanks for the question Des. This is a question that needs to be directed to each of the State and Territory Authorities, however in Victoria you can contact Phil Godkin (Email) the official Vic. Arm State Team Coordinator.

I don’t see why a registration would need to exist anymore, do you? Anyone can use an arm.  I’m sure you are more likely to get an answer/response on this than I could, and if you can, I hope you would consider sharing the result with my website followers. Cheers Pamela


Question from George Ziebell, Yeppoon, Q’ld

I’m looking at buying a bowling arm is there any one favourite brand?

Answer: ABA

Hi George, as a Coach I can’t recommend one arm over another. I use a Bionic, it holds the bowl for you and I push a button to release the bowl. My husband uses a Dart Release, (probably the least expensive), you squeeze the trigger to hold the bowl and release the trigger to deliver the bowl. The lightest, most popular, and most expensive is the DHB Hacksaw same operation as the Dart, but it’s more a lever than a trigger. The original Drakes is still quite popular. You must to assess your needs and chose accordingly but I would stress the following: Make sure the arm is only 3-4 inches off the ground, stand upright and deliver at 6 o’clock. Hope this helps. Cheers Pamela


Question:  A Question from Barry Jackson

Hi Pamela, can a size 3 be use in a dhb arm or does it have be adjusted?   BB thank you.

Answer: ABA

Yes, of course! BUT who was it made for?

Arms generally, are made to accommodate a size 3 or 4, if you have a need above, or below that, then it can be adjusted by the Maker (pre-sale), or later adjusted later by the Maker (through your point of purchase (sometimes), or by a contact who knows “how to”). I coached an brand new bowler today, who has to be an armed bowler, with a size 1 bowl using a Hacksaw (DHB).  I demonstrated with the Hacksaw (DHB), using my size 4.

I think you need to speak with the designer if you have worries.  and scroll down. Cheers Pamela


Comment: A question about fast aggressive bowls.

(From Colin Griffin, the Jindalee Club, Queensland.)

I have a name for a faster more aggressive game of bowls but I am unsure of the best format.

I expect 3 bowl pairs or 2 -4 -2 are the fastest games and I played 3 bowl pairs yesterday and it took close to 6 minutes per end.

My question. “What is the easiest fastest aggressive bowls game.”

My name for a FAST Aggressive bowls game is “HOT-SHOT bowls”

Suggestion from ABA – 2 bowl pairs!

Further Comment: Re: My question about fast aggressive bowls, here is my answer to my own question.
My name for this format = “HOT SHOT”
Game changing rule “HOT-SHOT” = When the Jack is in the ditch all scores for that end are doubled
Bowls per player = 3 consecutively as per triples
Number of players per team = 2, 3 or 4 (yes you can play fours with 3 bowls)
No dead ends = Spot a killed Jack
Anyone can use this format – I offer it free, as a way to generate more interest in bowls.
Yes, 3 bowl compared to 2 bowl has the most bowls for the least walking.
3 bowl pairs takes about 6 minutes per end.
Everyone can do a x2 calculation for a Jack in the ditch end – it is not hard to remember.
During the course of a game “HOT-SHOT” can create game changing opportunities.
You do not need to score extra points for ends won or touchers. “HOT-SHOT” ups the ante with one simple rule – when the jack is in the ditch x2 the shots won for that end.

Why not give it a try – it is free for anyone to “avago”.

Comments are welcome.


Statement from the Editor – ABA – 17 Jul ’19

I’m beginning to think that the latest innovation from Bowls Aust. “Roll back the Clock” is just another money grab by  Bowls Aust., that requires Clubs to do the work! It’s just like “Mums with Bubs”, “Bowling with Babies” and “Buns & Oven” (?) commitments. They do nothing for those committed bowlers (Blind, Armed and others more deserving), from whom they have collected (a huge no. of) affiliations over many years. We’d all pay more if it helped us, but it seems it is no longer “about us”! It’s about those “who can’t reap true satisfaction” from the sport because of commitment elsewhere (work/family), or those that “do not represent on-going affiliations” to the sport, because, after the money’s spent, there’s no on-going encouragement for them to improve or compete.


Question from Rick Knight, Edinburgh, Sth Aust.

Comment: Hi guys, do we know how many armed bowlers played in the Australian Open. Just curious.

ABA Love to know the answer to this one. Any ideas/comments?


Question from Phillip West, Tweed Heads B. C., N. S. W.

Hi, I have acquired an arm and just wondering if you have to be a member of your association. I am a member from Tweed Heads Bowls Club. Thanks Phil
Answer from ABA

Good question! Absolutely not, I’m just a website, and I’m here to help. You don’t need to belong to any Association, especially as you reside in N.S.W. All you need to be, is a member of a club that is affiliated with your governing body (RNSWBA). If you want to enter the State Armed Singles and Pairs in NSW, with a view to being considered for their State Squad  which competes at a national level, or the Woomera’s challenge side you will need to contact the organisers of these events so that you are on their books to receive information, applications, flyers and notifications. This information is routinely sent to all clubs but not all clubs disperse the information efficiently. I suggest you contact Allan Starrett (02)4009 1466 or  04 044 69 669. Women’s Bowls NSW are also very helpful.

In Q’ld there are 2 Associations, the Brisbane Northside Arm Bowlers Association, and the Maroon Arm Bowlers Association. In South Aust. there is the South Australian Arm Bowlers Association. Those Associations do require a membership of about $20 a year to help recoup costs (insurance) and support for their State players. You can read more about these Associations on this site.


Question from Peter Miller, McKay, Q’ld.

Could some won please inform me how to measure for the dart release bowlers arm, and also where to purchase this item. I understand there are three sizes available. No one at the North Mackay Bowls club knows anything about this arm. I myself have only seen photos but would like to purchase one. Trigger mechanism seems to look easier than all the others. Peter Miller

Answer from ABA

Click on this link  to see the arm and distributor located in Melbourne. It’s available in 3 different lengths:

1. Small (60 cm in length)

2. Medium (65 cm in length)

3. Large (70 cm in length)

* Comfortable handle, ideal for usage over a long period of time.

* Index finger trigger, for a no strain & easy release.

* Available to purchase at a more affordable price point!

* BA Approved Bowling Arm.

(Currently $195)

You should check out the triggers available 2 finger or 1 finger.

The Resting Toucher’s address is Breen Drive, Brighton East, Vic 3187, their phone no. is (03) 8520 9600, their email is and their website is

I’m sure they can help you decide on the right length for you. As a Coach I would recommend that you choose one that is close to the ground, as delivery is easier at the 6 o’clock position.

If anyone else can help out here please let me know. Cheers!


Question from Gordon Nichols, Clifton Springs, Victoria.

I have just completed a Club Coaches course.
I would like to know much more about coaching bowlers with arms, is there a course I can attend or books to read? Please guide me in right direction.

Answer from ABA

I would start by reading all the information in this section of my website

Also, you should contact those below, who manage Armed Bowls for Bowls Vic., as they should be able to advise you on up-coming clinics, the latest coaching tips and the where-abouts of Armed Coaches in your area. Cheers Pamela

Arm State Team Coordinator
Phil Godkin

Armed Coaching Coordinator
Michael Rose

Arm Tournament Schedule Coordinator
Tony Long


Question from Susan Hughes,  Christies Beach S. A.

Who do I get in touch with to become a member of the armed bowls club?

Answer from ABA

Susan, check out this website and see below their contact details. Armed Bowlers don’t have their own Club as such, but in S. A., Tranmere, is the closest thing too. It’s their “Associations HQ”.  Enjoy your Arm Bowling!

SA Armed Contacts


Comments from ABA re 1 May Changes

If you wish to support your “Brothers in Arms” in preserving the “Status Quo” i.e. that a medical certificate and registration card still be required for Arm use, you can download a personal letter here or a petition for yourself and/or your Club here.

I have decided to make a personal statement in relation to the proposed 1 May ’19 changes, removing the medical cert. requirement for the use of a mechanical arm. 

Open Letter to Daryl Clout, President of Bowls Australia and Wesley Fawaz (Interim) Chief Executive Officer Bowls Vic.

Hi Darryl and Wesley, I am writing a personal note here to let you know how I and most of my fellow Armed Bowlers feel about the proposed 1st May changes, removing the need for medical certificates and subsequently the card registration…..

………I was on the verge of leaving the sport 8-10 yrs. ago when all I could manage was Tuesday Pennant. I couldn’t play in any other event, or even practice as just one game a week was “doing my knees in”. I was devastated that, as one so keen, experienced and still young in terms of the sport, should have to walk away from the sport, I envisaged playing for another 30 years.

Along came the Arm, and I dropped myself to the 5th side for 2 years where I honed my skills and gradually moved back up to Div.1.

Bowls and sport, are to my mind, all about competitiveness, personal and team achievements, goal setting, skill building and more importantly Category’s!

Yes, “CATEGORY’S” the enablers of the above for EVERYONE regardless of ability, sex, race, religion etc. We need CATEGORY’S to get the pleasure, enjoyment, camaraderie and the competitiveness we feel “entitled to expect” from our governing bodies, without fear or favour.

We have blind bowlers, deaf bowlers, disabled bowlers, mentally challenged bowlers, indoor bowlers, over 60’s bowlers, for a short time Over 70’s bowlers, under 18’s bowlers, under 25’s bowlers, novice bowlers, junior bowlers, veteran bowlers and armed bowlers. (Can anyone tell me why we had a Men’s Under-25s-30s -35s Championships a while ago and not the same for women? And what’s “mum’s with bubs”, “bowling with bubs” and “buns + oven” got to do with competitive sport?)

With Armed Bowls, and the camaraderie of like company, I got my hunger back for the sport. I could practice without injuring myself and compete on a level playing field again as often as I liked. As with most armed bowlers, you put in the practice hours, you attend coaching clinics you do anything you can to get back to where you once were, you have goals and strive to achieve again, when all seemed lost to you.

Now you want to take away “MY CATEGORY’!

You want me to play against able bodied players in “open” armed competition. Alas we’ve tried that before and let me tell you, no matter how well we perform we are always “OVERLOOKED”! Overlooked in Pennant, overlooked in the Regions, the States and Nationally. Case in point your “poster boy”.

The Vic. Armed State Squad had a Vic. Open Singles Winner, an Armed Bowler making it to last 4 and next year the last 8 of the Aust. Open Singles, in both years defeating State, National and International bowlers along the way, and earning a National Ranking of 8 at that time. We’ve had several Vic. State Armed Representatives who perhaps should have been “looked at” over the yrs., having competed and won 7 out of 7 National Challenges. Did any of these ever receive an invitation to trial, in open competition NO! We’ve always been “OVERLOOKED”.

No armed bowler has he ever rec’d an invitation to trial in Open Company! I know of only 1 armed player out of the 8,000 Victorian armed players to ever represent that State (Vic.) in open company, and that was in the Over 60’s. I stand to be corrected if you can further enlighten me.

This ruthless decision denies us armed bowlers the opportunity to compete on a level playing field by removing “OUR CATEGORY”. What about all the other CATEGORY’S? Will you next deny the blind, the disabled, the mentally challenged? Will you let me enter the Under 18’s or Under 25’s, the over 60’s if I was 45, or are you age-ist? Will you remove their category? What happened to the Over 70’s? (I’m old enough to remember how the Over 60’s and Over 70’s and Veterans came about, it had something to do with feathers.) Surely a medical certificate should carry more weight than a birth certificate?

Do you really think that any of the category’s we currently have will be well served by inviting them to compete in open co., when open company generally means, male youth? (Younger than the Aust. Cricket team.)

You have, by this decision destroyed my pathway and crippled my ambition.

Please, I appeal to you…. re-think this before it is too late and give me “my category” pride and worth back.

Sincerely,  Pamela Bryant (ABA)

Comment from Geoff, Q’ld

“Interesting to read. I was given the choice of watching from the bank after my accident in 2005 but instead to participate I took up an arm. Div. 1 and District player in the past and found I had to train myself 3 days a week, which I still do, to remain competitive. Favourite reply to ” cheating sticks” is you couldn’t beat me when I was able bodied so why get upset that you can’t beat me now?” The greatest joy I get is helping bowlers regain their confidence and realize they too can continue to play and enjoy their sport. No need for the pain killers and being able to compete at high levels again day after day is a wonderful thing. When the “new Law is in place in May and all our Internationals show up with an arm to compete I will welcome them and help them with advice if they need any! Cheers and keep on swinging! Geoff ‘ Burnt out and Buggered, but loving it’ Geary.”

  • Response ABA I love your story…. Bowls Aust. needs to hear this from you, but if you don’t, I’ll make sure you are heard.

Comment from Rick, South Aust. 

People called me a dumper and for six months now that I use a hacksaw arm I enjoy bowling against able bodied as I get more confidence bowling against them but I agree even in South Australia arm bowlers don’t seem to hit the radar, got armed state singles in April but not mentioned in state events maybe we the bowler need to stand up and be counted.

Comment from Peter, Tasmania.

My answer to Bowls Aust new bowling arm policy where the need for the doctors certificate is being removed.
Bowling arms have wrongly been given the name of cheating sticks by those who have no idea what they are talking about. A bowling arm can help a BAD bowler bowl better, but a good bowler will struggle to be as good as they were before they had to go to using a bowling arm. The truth is that when you first go to use a bowling arm, your bowling will go backwards badly until you learn to use it. To become proficient with a bowling arm, it takes in the order of 2 years plus of hard work. So, you practice 2-3 hrs a day, 6 days a week for 2-3 years. Then, if you are lucky and have had the benefit of a great coach, you can bowl fairly well. Like I said, it’s a lot of hard work. Then, EVERY time you bowl, you have to endure all the nastiness and accusations of cheating. If anyone, using any kind of delivery, does the before mentioned practice, then their bowling will improve, it is not because they use a bowling arm. Because Australian players do so much practice to become VERY GOOD bowlers, why are they not accused of cheating also. WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH.
Anyone who uses a bowling arm has some form of disability, otherwise they would prefer to be able to bowl the same as everyone else. It may be a bad back, hip, knee or just full of arthritis. Why else would anyone go through all the hard work to be able to continue to be able to participate in our great sport. Bowls Australia would serve the bowling community better if they did something like aligning arm bowlers with Bowlers with Disabilities rather that bending to the idiots who believe that the use of a bowling arm is cheating and loosing control and stats on those who genuinely use a bowling arm.

  • Quick Response from ABA to Peter above.

Thanks Peter, alas the Disability Sector is very badly served! There’s a National Champs for them in Q’ld in May. Every obstacle that could be thrown at them, has been! They MUST take a Carer and pay all travel and expenses for that Carer. Hello…. I’m sure they can afford to do that!

Comment from Barry, Victoria

As the Inaugural Victorian State Arm Bowling Coach, I am totally annoyed that Bowls Australia have decided to nullify the compulsory Medical Certificate for the use of the Bowling Arm, this Arm was designed by Trevor Harper for the use of bowlers who had a genuine disability to start or continue in the game of Lawn Bowls.
In my 3 years as The State Coach and Represent Victoria for 4 years, having coached over 3000 players to use the Arm who had many type of problems with their body, not one of them was because of being obese as stated previously, this item of assistance allowed them to compete at the level they could reach and compete with pride and enjoy the comradeship of others with similar problems all over Australia and New Zealand.
This introduction allows others to use this Arm when and where they like at any level to a distinct advantage, and not for the original intention it was originally manufactured for use.
I have very dogmatic about many rules of use and will continue to fight for the original rule to be upheld and scrap the new system. I will not be alone in this fight as you will soon see your mistake of being brainwashed by the South Australian people who raised this when we played them over there. I urge you to have a discussion with the people who really know about the Bowling Arm System as early as possible.


Question from Paul Mckay, Cobram Victoria 

I’m looking for a club shirt with the words “ARMED AND DANGEROUS” on it.
I saw one at Victor Harbour recently. Hope you can help.

  • Answer from ABA

Yes Paul, that shirt belongs to the South Australian Armed Bowler’s Assoc. You can contact their President Vince Daly on 0410233512 or by email to

The Associations website is

Comment from Col Griffin of Jindalee

Re – no more Doc Certs needed for bowling arms after May 2019

Some common sense has prevailed and now the whingers who say arms are cheating have a level playing field because they can have one too.

I will bet they do not get an arm unless they need one, because there are more things to get right with an artificial arm delivery.

Congratz to all concerned. (You can read Col’s comments on dumping the need for certificates further down this page.)

Q. From Gary Muir, Hokowhitu, Palmerston North NZ. 

Just a quick question, I am unable to continue playing bowls as a result of a right shoulder injury that will require surgery in May of this year. Following surgery it is possible that I will not be allowed to play due to the type of implant and shoulder swing. My thoughts are that maybe the purchase of bowling arm might be the solution but I am in the dark as regards what would be the best type and what would be the best release. I appreciate that this would be a personal preference but I am open to any advice on this matter. Some time ago I saw an excellent video of an Australian bowling arm that was self-release but have never been able to find out any more about it despite emails and google searches. If you are able to assist me with any advice on my subject I would be very grateful. Thank you

  • A. Response from ABA

Wish I could help you, but…. it is indeed a personal issue. My feeling however is that the “Bionic Arm” (the green one, press to release, that holds the bowl for you) would lessen the pressure on your arm/shoulder. The other 3 arms registered and approved for use in Australia  (the DHB, Drakes and the Dart Release) neccesitate a firmer grip to hold the bowl in the cradle, and could add pressure to your injury. The most popular versions of last mentioned three require a tighter grip to hold the bowl in the cradle.  The DHB (Hacksaw) is the lightest of these and the most popular. It also comes with a press release, though I have not tried it. The Dart Release only requires one or two fingers to hold the bowl. The Drakes Arm comes in both versions also. Constantly lifting a bowl with your hand can aggravate shoulder and arm issues, like R.S.I., could this be the cause of your injury? If I were you, I’d consider changing hands?

I would not recommend any arm that is not registered and approved.

Click to enlarge photos.

Q. From Pat Elliott

Dear Pam Thank you for your session on Bowling Arm use which many of my bowling arm comrades and I have found very useful. I have been using the arm for 3 years in positions of third and skip. Yesterday I played on a lawn bowling green running at 12 with absolutely no finish whatsoever. No matter what I  tried to do, (bigger step, more back swing and follow through) I was unable reach the head on either long or short ends. It was horrible. Any advice on this would be great as I will no doubt be playing on greens like this in the future.

  • A. Response from ABA

I can only re-iterate what I say in my notes, It’s not the step, it’s not the follow through, it’s what happens at the top of your back swing. You need to “feel the drop” and if your arm is straight, and your back swing high enough, 4 feet of pendulum should get you there? Hope this helps, but I’d love someone else to get in on conversation.

Q. From Bob Mack, Katikati Bowling Club, New Zealand

Is there an equivalent to your organisation for armed bowlers in NZ ?

  • A. Response from ABA

I wouldn’t think so Bob, but happy for New Zealanders to share my site? I will email you with a contact that may be able to help you. Cheers

I have just joined the group and was wondering if any training days are held in WA.
I would love some coaching from other armed bowlers

Laurie Blurton is your man (contact as Coordinator of the WA Sandgropers) … contact info is: 0427 097 935 and


Comment from Roy Bilton

Hi Pamela. I have done really well with the bionic arm since I bought it a few months ago which has been mainly due to you and your advice through your article but once again I need some help and was hoping you may be able to help. I am using the squeeze trigger release which works great but I am having some problems with my thumb ( pain) my doctor suggested I keep my thumb on top of the handle which I have tried and I can still deliver just the same. However!, The doctor suggested I look towards a self releasing bowling arm which according to him is now on the market, I think it is called Maurice Gardner and wondered if you knew anything about them if so would love to hear from you. Regards Roy.

  • Answer from ABA

This is Morice Gardiner’s invention. Click on the coloured link and check it out.

Col Griffin also developed an arm on similar lines previously, this is his answer.

Comment from Pat Dillon Tauranga New Zealand

I’ve been practicing with the bionic for a few mths now. I am about 60% there I think.

I have RSI (elbow) so the least pressure the better. I still have minor difficulty with release being so high. Has anyone modified to lower lower release?

  • Answer from Peter Bloomfield Bionic Maker/Distributor:

“I would not reduce push-rod by more than 10mm. RE thread with M6.” Kind Regards,
Peter & Marion Bloomfield (Trophy Clay Targets Pty. Ltd. trading as)
Bees Knees Bowls Accessories
6 Fairview Court, Mossiface, Vic. 3885

  • Answer from ABA

Seems there is not a lot you can do. I don’t know if you have a left/right or centre push? I have seen people put funny things on top but usually say cork or a metal disc that is larger in circumference than the disc/button that comes with the arm, meaning they push down on the edge of the circumference which is now closer to them, but not lower.

That might not be OK with a left/right push but OK for a centre push? Good luck, persevere, it’s a wonderful sport and the arm makes it much less frustrating in the end. Cheers Pamela

  • Reply from Pat Dillon

I realize I couldn’t go too far down without stopping the bowl. As for adding on that would compound problem for me with thumb higher. I have squeezed a little aluminum strip to stem to press on. A work in progress!

Comment from Roy Bilton (Gisborne)

I recently had to go to a bionic arm and after reading your article over and over and practicing what you said for several hours each week I can confidently say that after two months with the arm and doing exactly what you said I am now as confident with my bowling as I was before I had to use the arm and I turned 88 years in November so my thanks go to you and your article.

Regards Roy Bilton ( Gisborne)

  • Reply from ABA.

Thrilled to hear this Roy! My husband (former Div. 1 Skip.) has had a certificate to use an arm for 5 years, after he felt he was embarrassing himself on the green, he bit the bullet, picked up a Dart Releases 3 months ago and has already won 2 best games at tournaments and is in the final of the Club C’ship later this month. I would like to know “whose” tips resonated best for you please. Cheers, thank you and good bowling. Pamela

Reply from Roy Bilton (Gisborne)

Hi Pamela ,thanks for your reply and it’s fair to say that I found the tips in “your” article were by far the most helpful simply because you pointed out that you weren’t teaching me how to play bowls but simply how to use a bowling arm and the technique in your article I found perfect. It was perhaps easier for me to accept a bowling arm simply because owing to hand and finger problems I just couldn’t hold a bowl of any size any more in fact if I was marking a singles game I had to use a bowl lifter to pluck bowls in the ditch or out of play so after 30 years of playing for me it was over, hence the bionic arm, now of course I can use any size I wish to but I think the larger size does perhaps leaves the jaws a little smoother. I must admit that being stood at an upright position on the mat gives you a completely different view and outlook on the game and in my opinion a more accurate and consistent delivery. In closing my biggest problem that I had and still have from time to time is the squeezing of the trigger at the right time and haven’t yet found the total answer to that one but working on it. Many thanks again. Regards Roy.

Post script:

Heard a tip yesterday from someone who also uses my tips. He walks around his home with an empty arm or stands with a bowl in the cradle facing a pillow and practices his release over and over again daily. That way the release becomes second nature. Try it. Cheers Pamela

Comment from Pat Dillon –  Bowls South, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Hi Pamela, just found your site and it is very interesting. I see you have the same comments re (so called) cheating sticks etc. as we in NZ do. We, however, do not have to satisfy any medical requirements to use one.

My answer to the critics is: No one in their right mind uses an Arm without need. Bowling is about Eye, Brain and Hand Co-ordination. Only the perfection of these skills gives you the means to perfect bowling. How many world Champions use an arm? How many Club/Regional Champs use a Bowling Arm? Cannot think of one. Many of these critics are using bowls that would have been considered cheating when I started 20 years ago. It would be just as stupid to tell short people they are cheating when playing a beanpole like me. (Physically they do actually have an advantage.)

For back problems the Arm is very effective as you can hold stability. For any arm injury there is no advantage. All of this will only help if you are a good bowler.

Bad bowlers are never better bowlers with the Arm.

A slight wobble transmitted along 700 mm will translate into 1 metre plus error 36 metres down the green. Also, this extra length on your arm is actually a disadvantage regarding weight! (A good bowler will adjust in time)

I have bad back and RSI so tried the original Arm without success. Squeezing a one kilo weight for 6 hours will make your condition worse. I hope this aspect is well broadcast in Aussie. I am currently trying a “Bionic”. This is much better re the squeeze but slightly more unstable, as when release is pressed the arm will swing out slightly with the pressure. Again, compensating will work for the good bowler.

Finally with massive decline in bowler participants any measures should be encouraged to keep the bowlers in clubs.

  • Reply from ABA

Finally, a very intelligent, in depth look at at the Armed Saga from over the ditch! Pat, I was very impressed with your statement, and I hope all Aussie’s take the time to read, understand and consider the content. You can’t play golf without a stick or pool without a cue so why not use an arm in bowls if that’s the only way you can. Tall people aren’t made to bowl, I shudder when I have to Coach one and say “now collapse your body and deliver close to your stepping out foot”….. It’s just too awkward, an impossibility for some.  Oh, and how I remember the era of those “cheating bowls”. Perhaps we should allow anyone to use an Arm (like in NZ) and those that don’t wish to, can stop whingeing?  P.S. I love my Bionic!

  • From Peter Wigmore, Daylesford, Victoria

Comment: I am happy for those bowlers who have a genuine need to use ” the arm ” to do so, but it seems to me that there are many bowlers whose only claim to having a disability, is that they are overweight ! There is no doubt in my mind that the use of an arm by a bowler who can use it, gives a huge advantage to that bowler! It also seems to me that the criteria for approval to use an arm is not stringent enough and too many bowlers are taking advantage of that fact. I realise that my opinions will not be received well, but I have been beaten too regularly , by too many bowlers, now using an arm, who I would have at least been competitive with prior to them using the commonly named ” cheat stick “. Being overweight should not be a reason to grant permission for the use of an arm ! Tighten up the criteria for the permission to use an arm or risk losing “unarmed ” bowlers like me, who are sick of the cheats !

  • Answer from ABA

I’ve no doubt you are not on your Pat Malone there. I’ve yet to meet a bowler that bowls better than they once did before the arm, mostly they get back, if they are lucky to the standard they once enjoyed. It’s awkward times for Armed Bowlers who feel this angst wherever they go, but most of the 8,000 Vic’s using one would have to leave the sport if not for the Arm. I for one would have left 8 years ago. Any solutions?

I replied to Peter personally “I understand your angst, I do! What do we do, perhaps all we can do is have your suggestions reach the right ears. Cheers Pamela”

  • Reply from Peter

Thank you for your response, Pamela. I repeat, that if an arm is warranted, great. It is the bowler who gets the approval when it is not warranted that I am  against!  What do we do? Make the criteria such that a friendly Doctor is answerable and aware of the ramifications of his/her approval. Again, thank you for your reply. Regards, Peter Wigmore

  • Reply from ABA

Problem is, that friendly doctor may have agreed, even suggested, that an arm be used for a myriad of personal health reasons, i.e. diabetes, vertigo, peripheral neuropathies, or total incontinence,  apart from the obvious hip, knee, shoulder or spine conditions. To question the use is getting into tricky legal territory. Let’s hope all Armers are honest, but lets also remember that bowlers are bowling well past the age they did 20 years ago.

I think also that the Club that accepts and forwards the doctors/physio’s cert. must have a reasonable personal knowledge of the reasons for the request by that individual, i. e. they know “Fred keeps falling off the mat” Perhaps more care should be taken by Clubs in the first instance and their recommendation be forwarded with the application?

From Col Griffin, Queensland


BA should dump the Doc Cert requirement, then:

A) Anyone who wants to finger bowl can do so

B) Anyone who wants to use an “ARM” can do so

C) It will maximize potential bowling participation

D) It will remove the need for approvals and record keeping by state bodies

E) It still allows game organizers to select their options (men, women, age or DEVICES)

F) It would breathe life into retail sales

We should lobby our reps because BA should stop thinking of ways to reduce bowls participation.

BA should allow the bowlers to decide how they want to play.

Reply from Armed Bowlers Australia

What can I say? What do you think? Is he getting too much exposure?

From George Williams

A question to throw in the arena for discussion/debate –

It would seem that as I become more proficient in the sport using my Bowler’s Arm, I seem to be invited less to play at certain levels…

Has anyone else had similar experiences…or thoughts on the topic?

ABA Reply   In some cases, I know it as “FACT”. (But I’ll never name them, there are many that have been “hard done by”.) The article below is courtesy of my Facebook site, only because, I’ve been able to share it with you there (with many thanks to “Bowls Plus” Magazine Vol. 8 Issue 4 of Aug/Sep ’18”).



From Col Griffin, Queensland

Comment: DART RELEASE Arm – I was the second person to buy a Dart Release Arm and they arrived 11 AM (we bought 2) and I took mine to bowls (12.30 start) and had a couple of roll up ends and then played 2 games of 12 ends with it. I skipped social club selected triples and we lost the first game by 2 and won the second game by 5.

I will do a more detailed report but my initial comments are.

First, my congratz to the Dart designer/s they have made it effective, light weight and simple, using basic engineering materials. Hence they can sell it at a competitive price.

My second comment is I used my black Taylor Whiteline size #3 and I also have “Lime Fizz “Whiteline size # 2. According to Taylor, when we bought them, black is 15 gms heavier than colours (it is a different material). That makes the Black Whiteline the same weight as a colour size 4.

Today I will go for a roll-up using the Dart Release and compare the #3 Black with the #2 colour.

For those who do not know, Whiteline is prob the tightest bowl made by Taylor (mine are still under Warranty) but they are also “not forgiving” if you do not put them down cleanly.

During my game yesterday I tried some different grips = 1 finger and 2 fingers on the hold/release plus a one finger on the hold/release and a forefinger as a direction guide down the arm. I want to try that all again with my #2 and #3 bowls today.

The handle palm bulge is impressive and there has been a lot of “mechanics” engineering effort put into the hold/release. The hold/release moves faster for a clean “get-a-way”.

BTW (by the way) I also own a Bionic Arm with spring hold and finger release. The Bionic Arm has the advantage of holding the bowl via a spring while you wait your turn.

I have tried the thumb release “Bowling Arm”.

The Bionic is good and many play extremely well using them. The Bionic arm is a reverse action to all the other arms so it depends how fast you adapt to squeeze to release.

The thumb release on the Bowling Arm did not suit me

BTW (By the Way)

I “made my own” prototype “automatic release” arm and it is going well. It defies rational thinking how the bowl stays in but releases on delivery. I just changed the shaft to a “heavier shaft” with a continuously adjustable length. You can’t have both extremely lightweight and continuously adjustable,

I call my arm “the Assassin” it is a prototype and not registered.

“The Assassin” is not for sale but it is useful for getting used to an arm with no trigger timing to worry about plus the adjustable handle allows you to try different lengths.

Reply from Armed Bowlers Australia

I love the Dart! Light, easy to use and not expensive. But Col.,  you were never the second to buy one, I’d bought many before you, as had many Victorians, they were approved about 18 mths to 2 years ago.  

Further comment from Col Griffin

Thanks Pamela, you are doing more than your share for armed bowlers. In particular, I like the way you are prepared to post radical views.

I believe that “toeing the party line” is what inhibits progress and all bowlers know that we need some real progress. Fashion (colored clothing) is put forward as progress but let’s be fair, if fashion (what we wear as recreational bowlers) is our biggest progress in 50 years, then as bowlers we do need to “air our options”. Pamela, my congratz and thanks to you.

Further comment from Col Griffin

Name: Colin Griffin Email:

Comment: Dart Release Bowls test.

I tested my new Dart Release with my Taylor Whiteline Bowls size #2 Lime Fizz (light green with speckles) and size #3 black

No difference in performance so I will use the lighter #2

As for the engineering it was all fine but the welding is a tad lumpy prob because they wanted to save clean-up for chrome plating. The nuts are all Nyloc shake-proof.

The ergonomics suited me, the handle is different.

I will sell my Bionic trigger release for (in good condition for $100 if anyone is interested).

From Robert Hoey, Dee Why, Sydney, NSW.

“I wish to buy an arm medium size, thanks.”

Reply from Armed Bowlers Australia

Hi Robert, nice to hear from you. I don’t sell NEW Arms, I just allow people to advertise second hand arms on my site (the two on my site are mine, that I no longer require). My site does let you know where you might source new and second arms, as does the Bowls Aust. site.  Google, eBay, Gum-tree, and other search engines are also great sources. Your local bowls shop should have a collection and may assist by letting you try one. Check around for friends already using an arm, I’m sure you’ll get all the help you need. Make sure a coach assess your needs and helps in your decision. Hope this helps.

Cheers Pamela

From Col Griffin, Queensland

Comment: Do you think Bowls Australia discriminates against the disabled by “approving some”/”hence banning alternatives” bowling aids.

Remembering it is a BA total ban. Or to put it another way:

“If you have a disability and you are not happy with the BA approved aids, then you cannot play bowls at all.”

Is this discriminatory, does it exceed community standards, if not legislative requirements?

From Bob Willis in response to the new rule. (See Bit’s ‘n Pieces 2)

Comment: If you can roll the jack you do not need a arm. By a arm bowler who would like to roll the jack and not use a arm. Sorry if I offend anyone but if you can roll the jack by without the use of the arm you do Need a artificial arm. To me it’s a no brain-er you do not need a arm.

Reply from Armed Bowlers Australia I disagree Bob, I could, if wanted too, (and I have done when marking) “chuck a jack” back to a bowler without being abused or reported to the green keeper. Personally, I prefer and do use the device for the jack in play. It’s the bowl I’m not allowed to bounce? Cheers Editor Pamela.


Other Replies from Facebook ABA
Tony Long The jack should be delivered in the bowling arm is my little opinion. I use a bionic bowling arm and the jack does not fit that well but still can use it.If you have to use an arm I would think most people just get used to delivering the jack in the arm.
Kerry Ralph Agree with you Tony. If you need a bowling arm to bowl easy to use for Jack as well. We get enough flack as it is, people don’t need any more ammunition.

Chris Ball Just get on with it, if a man needs a device, WITH A DOCTORS CERTIFICATE, let them roll the Jack however he or she wants or needs to!

Pettiness is what lost the game for me!

Damian Riches Bob all the same I’ve just started using a arm my knee is stuffed and I can’t get down but I can still roll a jack because I can throw it from the hip some what but as for a bow mate that’s not and option as it would create big problems for bowlers coming after me.
Pamela Hogan come on Bob – rolling the jack is a one off – your back can survive that – its a full game that someone with pain cannot cope with
Leon Dinger Bell I have also heard that you will no longer need a Doctors Cert and Reg number to be able to use an Arm in competition? I totally disagree with the change! The bowling arm tournaments, that I have played in in the past, have stated in rules of play. (All bowls, including the jack must be delivered with an approve arm)! I have had a major back operation and am not able bend enough to Bowl without my DHB Arm, which I have been using for 5 years now! Without it I would have had to give the game away 5 years ago. (The Bowling Arm, (In my opinion) is a necessity tool for injured/disabled players, to be able to continue to play the game!) Not just an added accessory!
Joan Moss I can roll the jack by reversing my hand but I can’t deliver a bowl that way. There are all sorts of disabilities that lead to a bowler needing to use an arm. I usually use the arm for the jack though.
Barry Atkins I agree with Bob Willis

Editors Comment on Vic. Selection:  Hey! At last the Vic’s official line up! I’m personally disappointed, however, that all of the Winners of the State (Armed) C’ships (Vic.) are not included in the State Squad, especially when they were told that that event was the Gateway to Selection! Comments welcome. Cheers Editor Pamela.

From Schwarcz, West Pennant Hills B.C., NSW.

Comment: When are you having the championship. It is not shown on your web page?

Reply: I have nothing to do with the running of the National Bowlers Arm State Sides Championships! I only promote the event through my website, with information provided to me from other enthusiasts. The C’ships are on at East Maitland and “maybe” other Clubs in the area, Monday 10th – Thursday 13th September. I can only pass on to you “what I am aware of”, so my advice is, if you need more information, you should   contact Zone 10 or your State body Representative. If you find out more PLEASE let me know! (That’s how it works here.) Maybe an ABA follower will contribute an answer! That would be good. Cheers Pamela.

From Rodney Brown, Q’ld.

Comment: Is it best to have narrow bowls with an bowling arm I am finding it hard to get the right line with normal median draw bowls what the best sizes in bowls I have been told 3 or 4’s are the best size hoping to here from you.

Reply: In my opinion, bias does not matter, you need to know the the line “your” bowl takes. Try putting a bowl down on the centre line (if the rink is true, and the pegs are moved often) see where it finishes, that is your aiming line, and at any distance or mat location the angle from the centre line (or imaginary centre line) should not change.  That’s a pretty good indication of where you should be looking, 8 feet out, half way etc.  You should not look to the BANK! Draw a line back, and bowl to a point 8-12 feet out….don’t look at the Jack when you deliver, just look at the aiming point, which you have just found. Easy peasy!

Most bowling arms were designed to hold a 3-4 sized bowl….so whoever pointed you in that direction, had it right. Most arms can be adjusted to hold larger or smaller bowls, my friend uses a ‘Bionic” with a size 0….no probs! Size depends on the injury you have.

I’m sure there are many options/considerations for you…..that’s just mine.


Let’s hope you get more answers! Cheers Editor Pamela.

From J. Green, Mackay, Q’ld.  

Comment: I have to fly to Brisbane and I have a bowling arm people call the hacksaw are you aloud to carry it on as hand luggage I think it is to light to put under as they break to easy.

Reply:  No, as I understand it, it should go in your stowed luggage, wrap it up. You need to ask this question at the airport, or before you travel. Cheers Editor Pamela.


International Traveling Tip from Lee Wesley – “All bowling arms must be placed in our checked in baggage only as they can be broken and used as a weapon. The best way as Trevor has said is pack it in the middle of your clothes. The only other warning is just declare it as sporting goods when traveling international otherwise they will think it’s something really strange”

P.S. J. Green, please let me know how you got on, with In State or Inter State travel? You could help us all out here, as it is a common question. Please get back to us!

(Ed Note: I took one into a hospital to show someone…you should have seen the looks I got, I think they thought, I had a gun!) Cheers Editor Pamela.


Writers Reply. J. Green Thanks for info looks like I will have to buy a bigger case!

Good excuse to get a bigger case! Hope other Armed Bowlers can help you out here?
Reply Carole Klop, Vic. Bigger case it seems!

Editor’s Comment:  Ain’t that grand, Bowls Aust “jumps to” as the Comm. Games integrate! Let’s hope Bowls Aust. “jumps on board” and does the same in Bowls. Integration, Yeh!

From Pam Martin, NSW

Comment: I’m wondering if our State Bowling Associations even know that events are held for Armed bowlers because if they do know then they certainly don’t appear to acknowledge or promote those events. Correct me if I’m wrong please.

Reply Armed Bowlers Australia Hi Pam Martin, if you look on the Bowls Aust. site for instance, at all the places you might expect to find out more about Armed Bowling, Blind Bowling, etc. at a National level you will find no mention of us in: National Events, Calendar of Events, Get Involved, or the Club Support index. At least 5 States (6 for 2018) have National Squads, they compete in Sept., the Blind Bowlers compete nationally and internationally as well. Not many dedicated bowlers or new to bowls bowlers know this, even tho’ it may become a necessary pathway for them one day. I suggest you look at each State and see If you can find any link to help an armed or blind bowler progress through the sport. Bowls Vic. does give us (Armers) a mention, but it is usually well out of date and lacks depth. The newest Arm “the dart release” has been around (approved) for about 10 months, but it rarely if ever rates a mention. They have one small photo of it on Bowls Aust. but the text accompanying the Four arms available still refers to “Three arms”. Three States did make attempts to set up websites to cater for their armed members. All were closed down! Mmmm. Cheers and thank you Pam for your interest. Cheers Editor Pamela.

Editor’s Comment on Cricket!

“Be humble in winning and gracious in defeat” and yeh, an Aussie Cricketer said that!

Seems this “Win at all Cost” arrogance snuck into BOWLS about the same time it snuck into cricket? Can you believe it!

My feeling is, and I say it to myself as well, let’s take a deep breathe and think about the sport and the men and women who have walked!!! It’s a game, why are we turning people away in hordes? You cannot buy a reputation, it has to be earned. So to those that sledge, intimidate or abuse their opposition, and can’t find it in themselves to offer the friendly “after game drink” with real intention, please, from now on, think about your actions and the affect they have on your reputation and the reputation of the sport. (Ed.)

From a Club, in Napier, New Zealand.

Comment: Do you have literature on history of armed bowlers. How long been going. Has it made a difference to numbers playing. Do you have coaching videos? Who runs armed bowlers. Who selects state teams and how many in that team. What formats used. What makes your program so successful?

I am an accredited nosy coach who can’t understand why Bowls NZ haven’t followed your progress of tapping a new market. Hope you can find time to reply. Regards.

Reply. I did reply privately to this writer in depth, but if you have any suggestions, I’m sure the writer would love to hear them. Cheers Editor Pamela.


From the Editor

Comment: Interesting comment from a fellow bowler, who didn’t know I was an armed bowler.

“I’ve never seen an armed bowler do better than they were before the arm, but some have clawed their way back to where they were.” Love it…that about sums it up!

From Hans Gaymans, Victoria.


Comment:“I have been giving the following issue a bit of thought.

We have been bowling with arms now for many years and have copped plenty of critics how easy it is to use one of those things.

I propose that the organisation starts negotiations to make bowling arms legal for all bowlers. This will stop any critics and they can find out for themselves that if you do not have an handicap of some sort it will not make you a better bowler.

They forget that the person using an arm would have been a much better bowler without an bowling arm and no medical handicap. It is worth a discussion.”

From Carol Klop in response to Hans Gaymans thoughts above

Comment:  I agree totally with the writer that ALL bowlers should be allowed to use a bowling arm if they choose.

From Jeff Gilmour: 

Q. How do you get the correct judgment for distance I want to know, I just get lost with it…

A.  May I suggest…..? you look at, read all, and think about what all the Coaches have to say at or if you are near Preston Reservoir, you should attend their Coaching Clinic on 25th Feb ’18. it’s all there for you at Cheers Pamela

Thank you Pamela for this ..I will be looking into what you have just sent me. Jeff.

Jeff, there’s other YouTube s that are very helpful, think of weight as if you were throwing a tennis ball to someone 2 metres away, then do it 4 metres, then do it 6 metres away. You will have naturally drawn you arm back further and speeded up your delivery. The best you can do is, know where your bowl turns (say half way) then draw your eyes back and bowl on a line that goes to the point of turn.… AND  is also worth a view. Bowl to your aiming line, draw your eyes back and don’t look to the Jack. Cheers Pamela 

Thanks very much for this reply ..I will be back on the green in the morning and put this advise into action as in trying at different lengths with a few jacks down the green as far as the T an watching the bowl draw back onto the Kitty each time ….would this be right …Cheers Jeff

The “constant angle” is your main tool. That’s looking at the inches (sorry I’m old fashioned) 8-10 feet out from the centre line (or imaginary centre line), that way the angle never changes when the mat moves up and back. If you look at the peg… that’s when you have to figure out how far in or out of the peg you need to be ….it just doesn’t work if you are trying to find weight, as you are. Find your constant angle, follow your opponent in the first 8 ft if they’re bang on or, if you are skipping this can also be achieved by watching on coming bowls in relation to the centre line. Magic! Hope I’ve helped? Cheers Editor Pamela.

From Col. Griffin (Q’ld) this fictional story for your enjoyment (?)

“Lawn Bowls is Booming”, By Mango Chutney, © C.J. Griffin all rights reserved.

This is Fiction, or as Donald Trump Says: “Fake News”

“Lawn bowls is Booming”

The Bowls Authorities have created a new class of lawn bowls called “Ability” .

Bending to bowl is now optional.

“Ability” is becoming popular because bowls “delivery aids” like bowling arms, walking frames, wheelchairs, and gloves have been deregulated.

Lawn Bowls was on the decline but now it is booming, thanks to deregulation.

“Ability” is a non-discriminatory class of bowls where you can use any “aids or means” to deliver your bowl. The “aids or means of delivering your bowl” do not have to be approved, and you do not have to prove you are disabled to be an “Ability” bowler.

The Laws of Bowls still apply.


1. The integrity of the greens remain the responsibility of the bowls clubs .

2. If anyone damages a green then the club has the right to recover their costs.

Auto Release Bowling Arms.

The easiest way to learn to bowl.

Bowling arms have been difficult to get the point of release right, but now auto release arms make it easy.

Bowls comps can be

1. Classic

2. Ability

3. Open


For mixed games with Classic and Ability players it remains the same, teams are selected on merit.


If you have arthritis, crook backs, blind, deaf, mentally challenged, or coordination issues, then Ability Bowls is for you.

There is no need to be a couch potato anymore.

If age or injury has made you give up playing golf, tennis, football, netball, cricket, hockey, table tennis. rock climbing or motor sports then give the new BOOM sport a go: Ability Bowls.

The End

(All the above is the imaginative work of the author, it is fiction!)

Have your say or ask questions here.