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The Tale of William Tell Turned the Importance of Accuracy Into a Legend – August 2009 – Par Bowling by Tom Kouros

I don’t believe anyone was ever more concerned with accuracy than, when, standing there with a dwarfed apple on top of his head, William Tell watched as his father drew the bow and dispatched a menacing arrow in his direction. The result of this act? Tell’s keen accuracy split the apple in half, and thus gave life to a legend.

Unlike the potentially grave situation recounted in this story, accuracy in bowling is not a life-or-death matter (although there have been a few neurotics who would disagree). However, accuracy is critical to any consideration of scoring and/or progression in the sport.

In bowling, accuracy is the horse and action the wagon. This metaphor correctly implies accuracy’s priority over action. As the “old-timers” would say, “Find the pocket first (accuracy) and then build up your stroke (action) if needed.”

In general, accuracy is defined as freedom from mistake or error. Rather, as it applies to bowling, a more precise definition would be, “Accuracy is the degree of conformity of a measure to a given standard.”

There has never been an infallible bowler. We all fail from time to time. As the great Earl Anthony would often say, “We all make mistakes. It’s the guy who makes the least number of mistakes that goes home with the marbles.”

Few outside the sport recognize the complexities involved in getting a ball to travel to a specific location some 60 feet away, in an effective manner on a variety of lane conditions. In this regard, knowledge of a calculated set of options is necessary in order to make proper and confident adjustments. At times, even some par bowlers belittle the necessary knowledge that is required in order to read lanes properly. But don’t let this lack of good judgment fool you. Adjusting for accuracy is a game within a game, and is often what separates the victors from the also-rans. At times, even par bowlers are guilty of uttering such misguided statements as, “I’m not looking at anything, just swinging it right and letting it hook back.” This is self-defeating. One should always have a numerical reference to the shot before it is executed. In this regard, the board that you select in the stance to position your feet and a numerical reference to a given board at the arrows is best recommended. For example, when asked, “What line are you playing?” you might reply, “Ten to twelve,” which means you are centering the foot used to determine your stance position on the 10th board and rolling the ball over the 12th board at the arrows.

When warming up, the first thing a bowler should determine is how much the lane is hooking. A simple way is to roll a ball straight down the 10th board, from the foul line to the 2nd arrow (10th board at the arrows), and note where it finishes at the pin deck.

If the ball rolled straight, obviously it would roll to the 10th board at the pin deck. However, if the ball rolled into the pocket, it would have been required to end up on the 17th board, meaning it hooked seven boards, often referred to as a shot with a “hook-span” of seven boards.

Some bowlers use one particular ball to gauge the friction characteristics of a lane, but this doesn’t always provide an accurate reading of the lane because the ball’s molecular compatibility will often vary from one lane condition to another. Also, one must take into account how accommodating (in terms of abrasiveness) the lane’s surface is to the ball’s shell. To better understand the degree of oil on the lane (friction characteristics), at times it is advisable to watch the ball reaction that other bowlers are having over all sections of the lane.

Two of the most accurate bowlers in today’s game are Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Norm Duke. Because of their accuracy, it is hardly an accident that they are among the most elite bowlers in the game today.

*Posted with permission from Bowlers Journal International