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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.
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.