Is Your Equipment Legal – By David Charron

Recently my local association had a meeting in which they discussed the need to monitor equipment at both the Local and State level. The argument they made for wanting to do this was a simple one; some members of My Local Association feel that bowlers must be using Illegal Equipment to be able to achieve the scores and accolades of the recent past. This association is considering purchasing an electronic scale for the purpose of weighing equipment prior to any Local Level Sanctioned Tournament and also any State Level Events which are to be held in our Local Association Facilities. I am going to break this down into sections of discussion at this is a very broad and bold statement being made by my local association.

High Averages & Honor Scores

The reason for the fact that scores have gone through the roof is many. But the 2 things that immediately come to mind are lane conditions and technology. The days of the Rubber and Plastic Bowling ball are gone. Hence the new age of very technologically advanced equipment, this makes bowling on “House Conditions” much easier than in years past. This quickly brings me to the second and most important point of the reason why scores are so high, Lane Conditions. Let’s face it the typical house shot for an advanced player is somewhat easy. A very good to excellent bowler can easily find an area of the lane to play, which with their equipment will give them 5-7 boards to hit and still get to the pocket, as when the ball sails to the right it hits the drier boards on the lane which create more hook bringing the ball back to the pocket. Thus more balls in the pocket equal more striking equal higher scores. Unfortunately Lane Conditions are not going to voluntarily be made harder by the Center Management, because the typical bowler in this day and age wants to bowl once a week, never practice, and still maintain what they consider to be a decent or competitive average usually somewhere between 185-205. (Adjust this number depending on the skill level of the player) Don’t get me wrong I know there are still bowlers out there who are trying to improve through practice, but those are few and far between. In some recent years, some centers have elected to make the shot “Tougher”, the general result of this experiment by some proprietors has been met with angry “Customer’s”, and they eventually go back to the “Easy House Shot”. They do not lose bowler’s generally to other centers, because unlike other places there is not a lot of competition for local bowlers in Maine, except in Bangor. What usually happens is bowler’s who get extremely frustrated with these “tougher” conditions quit bowling altogether. Proprietors are in the business to make money, they do so by keeping their customer’s happy, they keep their customer’s happy by giving in to the majority and that majority wants to achieve high scores. So forget about changing the lane conditions anytime soon. If you want to test your skill level on “tougher” conditions, I suggest joining a PBA Experience League, or a Sport League.

Illegal Equipment

Let me first say that if anyone is knowingly using illegal equipment, I am the first in line saying they should be suspended from USBC. I think that Association Members at both the Local and State level should be very careful when suggesting that Bowler’s are using illegal equipment without the proof that they are. Making such statements is not fair to those bowler’s, and they could turn around and sue you for defamation. I do not think that there are an abundance of bowler’s in Maine who are purposefully cheating by using illegally drilled equipment. I think in most cases the illegal things that happen in Maine are centered on what happens during competition (i.e. cleaners, abrasives, powders, etc). I would however agree the idea of routinely checking equipment at Tournaments and after Honor Scores is a good one, because I think there are many reasons for illegal equipment and I also agree that there is some of it out there being used everyday. First, I think there are some people out there drilling equipment who truly do not know what they are doing, and have no idea about the rules when it come to balancing a bowling ball. Second, I think some pro-shops are using old un-calibrated equipment for weighing bowling balls. Third, I think there are guys out there who are willing to do anything to make their Customer happy, with no regard for the rules. But still in most of these cases I don’t think the bowler even knows the ball they just purchased is drilled illegally. In our current culture they would never know unless they went to nationals. I know of 3 or 4 Bowlers who recently went to nationals only to find out that their Equipment was drilled illegally, in some instances so bad that they could not be fixed without a complete plug and re-drill. If you care about your equipment, I suggest you pick a very reputable shop to have your equipment done, ask questions, make sure you understand how your equipment is going to be drilled, once you find that Pro Shop stick with it. I have been going to the same place to get my equipment for over 10 Years, I have been to numerous USBC National Tournaments and never have I had a ball rejected. At the bottom of this article you will find some of the Specifications as outlines in the Equipment Specification Manual provided by USBC. There is also a Link to the full manual below.

Local and State Level Events Weighing Equipment

As I stated previously, it is a great idea to weigh equipment both before Tournament Competition and also after Honor Scores are achieved, with a few stipulations. Phase this program into place; don’t just throw it in place. Maybe even provide it as a voluntary project the first couple of years. In order to have every bowler go through a weigh station prior to bowling would require bowler to arrive at least 1 hour before a scheduled squad start time, it’s hard enough to get bowlers to arrive more than 5 minutes before the start of a squad. By phasing it in you give the bowlers the opportunity to get used to it, and understand it before throwing it at them. Remember a lot of bowers don’t even have a clear understanding of the rules, or what a weight hole, side weigh, finger weight, or top weight is. Consistency is going to be paramount here, if someone thinks a ball is out of balance it should be checked, double, and triple checked before the determination is made. At Nationals, a ball goes on an electronic scale, if it is slightly above the tolerance levels it is then sent over to a second more advanced scale system, which more accurately finds the specs of the ball. My concern is that the Local Association is going to buy a used electronic scale much like the first one used at Nationals. But will not have access to the more advanced version should something be close at initial weighing. The other concern I have is those individuals who will be responsible for conducting the weighing, how well trained will they be, if you have Pro Shop operators out there who can’t find the center lines of a grip, and are producing illegal equipment how well versed are these individuals who are going to be charged with the process going to be. While phasing this in, I think there should be a list of Balls, Bowlers, and where they were drilled kept on file which brings me to the next point

Pro Shops & Pro Shop Operators

I think that their should be an organization formed perhaps overseen by the State Assocaiton to come up with a program for accrediting Pro Shops in the state who meet or exceed certain benchmarks while doing this program of weighing equipment. See notes above about finding a reputable pro shop, our State Association is suppose to be here for the bowler’s. Something like this would be helpful to those bowler’s in our state who are looking for a pro shop. The cost for this would be very minimal, a list on a website, and a paper certificate which the Pro Shop Proprietor could display.

Bowling Ball Specifications

 Weight:

 The weight of the ball shall not exceed 16.00 pounds. There is no minimum weight.

Hardness:

 1. The surface hardness of bowling balls shall not be less than 72 durometer D at room temperature (68 – 78 degrees F).

2. The use of chemicals, solvents or other methods to change the hardness of the surface of the ball after it is manufactured is prohibited.

Circumference and Diameter:

A bowling ball shall not have a circumference of more than 27.002 inches (diameter of 8.595 inches) nor less than 26.704 inches (diameter of 8.500 inches).

Roundness:

A bowling ball shall be spherical and shall not be out of round by more than 0.010 inches.

Radius of Gyration:

The radius of gyration of a 13.00 lb. or more bowling ball, about any axis, shall not be less than 2.430 inches nor more than 2.800 inches. In addition, the maximum differential radius of gyration between any two axes of the same ball shall not exceed 0.060 inches. These shall be tested in accordance with an USBC approved test procedure (see Appendix C).

Marking:

Each ball must be uniquely identifiable by the following: 1. Brand Name/Logo 2. Ball Name 3. Individual Serial Number 4. USBC Star logo (examples at right)

Center of Gravity (CG) Marking Location:

The center of gravity (CG) of an un-drilled ball must be clearly identifiable by a unique mark or indicator.

Coefficient of Restitution:

The coefficient of restitution of a 13.00 lb. or more bowling ball shall not be less than 0.650 nor greater than 0.750 when tested in accordance with an USBC approved test procedure (see Appendix D). Coefficient of Friction: The coefficient of friction of a 13.00 lb or more bowling ball shall not exceed 0.320 when tested in accordance with an USBC approved test procedure at a relative humidity of between 30% and 50% (see Appendix E). The ball may be tested anywhere between 320 grit to 3000 polish.

Holes:

The following limitations shall govern the drilling of holes in the ball:

1. Holes or indentations for gripping purposes shall not exceed five (5) and shall be limited to one for each finger and one for the thumb, all for the same hand. The player is not required to use all the holes in any specific delivery, but they must be able to demonstrate, with the same hand, that each hole can be used simultaneously for gripping purposes. Any hole that cannot be reasonably shown to be used with a single hand would be classified as a balance hole.

2. One hole for balance purposes not to exceed 1-1/4 inch diameter.

3. No more than one vent hole to each finger and/or thumb hole not to exceed 1/4 inch in diameter. This hole may not exceed 1/4 inch at any point through the depth of the hole.

4. One mill hole for inspection purposes not to exceed 5/8 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch in depth.

Balance:

The following tolerances shall be permissible in the balance of a bowling ball used in certified competition:

10.01 pounds or more:

a. Not more than 3 ounces difference between top half of the ball (finger hole side) and the bottom half (side opposite the finger holes).

b. Not more than 1 ounce difference between the sides to the right and left of the finger holes or between the sides in front and back of the finger holes.

c. A ball drilled without a thumb hole may not have more than 1 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

d. A ball drilled without any finger holes or indentations, may not have more than 1 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

e. A ball used without any hole or indentations may not have more than 1 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

For a ball weighing 10.0 pounds to 8.0 pounds:

a. Not more than 2 ounces difference between top half of the ball (finger hole side) and the bottom half (side opposite the finger holes).

b. Not more than 3/4 ounce difference between the sides to the right and left of the finger holes or between the sides in front and back of the finger holes.

c. A ball drilled without a thumb hole may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

d. A ball drilled without any finger holes or indentations, may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

e. A ball used without any hole or indentations may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

Less than 8.0 pounds:

a. Not more than 3/4 ounce difference between the top half of the ball (finger hole side) and the bottom half (side opposite the finger holes).

b. Not more than 3/4 ounce difference between the sides to the right and left of the finger holes or between the sides in front and back of the finger holes.

c. A ball drilled without a thumb hole may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

d. A ball drilled without any finger holes or indentations, may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

e. A ball used without any hole or indentations may not have more than 3/4 ounce difference between any two halves of the ball.

LINK TO BOWLING EQUIPMENT SPECIFICATION MANUAL

http://usbcongress.http.internapcdn.net/usbcongress/bowl/equipandspecs/pdfs/04_2009_EquipSpecsManual_WEB.pdf

 

I hope this information has been helpful and informative.  Opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and may not reflect the opinions held by MSUSBC. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. Hope everyone is gearing up for another great season of Bowling.

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3 responses to “Is Your Equipment Legal – By David Charron

  1. David I agree with everything you blogged about. Especially when it comes to certifying pro shops in the state. There are so many guys who drill out of the house,garage, etc. and have no idea of exactly what the spec’s need to be according to USBC certification for equipment.

    Also, I think that for an association to say that bowlers in their house have used illegal equipment without basis of fact for their argument is dispicable, and they should apologize to the bowlers in question immediately. It is one thing for someone to think something, but totally different to accuse those who have put time into their game to become good, of cheating. That takes it to a new level, and one that should not be tolerated by any one of us.

    My only concern is how long it will take to scale up all the balls for a tournament, getting all the bowlers there in time to get this done before squad time, and who will be the ones certified to use the scales to weigh the balls. These things need to be considered before we go guns blazing and buy expensive equipment that nobody knows the proper way to use. Let’s discuss it in depth and come up a viable solution that every association needs to get on board with before it passes. We need uniformity on this issue, not devisiveness. I agree with the issue of weighing balls for honor scores, but since USBC gives houses a week before needing a lane sanction, I hold little hope of getting something together for bowling balls themselves. USBC seems to either not care, or has not come to the front on the equipment issue as far as honor scores go.

    And lastly, there are so many factors that have added to the increase in honor scores over the years, using “illegal” balls would be so far down on the list it’s scary. I have never had a bowling ball fail a scale, and I have bowled many times in national tournaments, but there are more important factors such as lane conditions, coverstock porousity, rg and diff. numbers for balls, and coverstock material that need to be addressed to bring back integrity to the game of bowling. I hope that we can come up with a good solution, one that will work for every association in the state of Maine, as it comes to scales and illegal equipment. Thank you for bringing this to light David, and I look forward to hearing about any resolution on this issue.

    -James Goulding III

  2. James,

    Thank you for the response. I do want to clear up one point; it was not necessarily the Board Members who were accusing bowlers of cheating it was a certain member of our association who did so as a guest who was contributing an argument for (the need to purchase an Electronic Scale for the purpose of weighing equipment before every Local level event to include any State Level Events held in local facilities and after every honor score) an Agenda item at a local level meeting. However, no one from the board stepped in and told this particular bowler that they had no proof or foundation for making the statements suggesting that certain named bowlers were in fact using illegal equipment. Personally I feel it would have been the Association President that should have stepped in as moderator of the meeting to ensure that everyone in the room understood that the statement had no proof or foundation.

    As far as the time it would take to administer a ball weighing room much like what is done at nationals; it would take considerable time, as I suggested in my post. It is the one thing that will make instituting something like this very difficult to say the least. However, if we phase something like this in, and make it a voluntary program at local and state level events, I think we would be surprised at how many bowlers would be willing to voluntarily weigh their equipment to make sure it was legal. Like I said most bowlers have no idea whether the equipment they use is legal or not. Maybe even modify the idea to something like Random checks before tournaments, but in order to do random checks you would have to make absolutely sure that everything was above board as far as the Random part goes. So that no one bowler or group of bowlers ever felt they were singled out, a voluntary program along with Random checks may go a long way to solve the problem that has been brought to light by my local association.

    Again, James I thank you for the response. Opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and may not reflect the opinions held by MSUSBC. As always your comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged. Please post your responses and thank you for reading the Bowler 2 Bowler Blog. See you on the lanes.

  3. So sadly misleading that you, and so many others, ignore the fact that the rules state “At time of manufacture,”; and somehow this is perpetually equated to indefinitely!

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