Five Interesting Facts About the Bowls Jack
One of the most important items of bowls equipment is the jack – a small white bowl which acts as a target for the players. The whole purpose of the sport is to make sure your bowl or bowls finishes closer to it than your opponents’ bowls do.
Bowls World are leading suppliers of bowls and bowls accessories in the UK and worldwide. Here we have compiled a guide to the origin and history of one of the sport’s smallest but most important components.
What’s in a Name?
The actual meaning of the word is subject to some debate. Some say it means something which is cast or thrown, because of the Latin word ‘jactus’. Others say it came to mean something small or inferior. Other, more colloquial names for the jack include the white, the kitty or the sweetie, the Cot in Federation Bowls (EBF), and, in the case of crown green bowls, the block.
Shakespeare Mentioned It
Shakespeare was apparently a member of a bowling club, and his plays are littered with references to the sport. Cymbeline, which was written around 1610, contains one of the first recorded mentions of the jack – “Was there ever man had such luck! When I kissed the jack, upon an up-cast to be hit away.”
Size and Weight
Lawn bowls rules state that ‘The jack shall be round and white with a diameter of not less than 2 15/32 inches, nor more than 2 17/32 inches and not less than 8 oz nor more than 10 oz in weight.’
In crown green bowls, the jack (as pictured above) weighs 23 oz. It is biased, which means it won’t run in a straight line. However, the bias of the jack is the same as the bowls being used in the game. Official crown green jacks must be stamped every seven years to comply with the rules, and measure 3.75 inches (9.5cm).
How Long Can the End Be?
Rules vary about how far away the jack can be thrown or cast away from the mat, depending on the sport and the size of the rink. In the case of crown green bowls, the minimum length of an end is 19metres – the distance between the jack and the footer. In lawn bowls, the jack must travel a minimum of 23 yards. In short mat bowls, ends are much shorter because of the maximum length of the mat (usually under 45ft, or around 14metres).
Other Rules and Regulations
Any bowl which touches the jack in World Bowls rules is defined as a toucher, and it remains live even if it, or the jack, ends up in the ditch. To keep track of this, the bowl is marked with a cross using chalk. In EBF, there are no such thing as touchers, although the Cot is still live if it goes into the ditch.
Lawn bowls etiquette reminds players that they should stand well behind the jack if they are not delivering a bowl or directly participating in the end. They also need to take care, on sunny days, that they don’t cast a shadow over the jack, as this could prove off-putting for players on the mat.
Bowls Equipment from Bowlsworld
Bowls World supply a range of jacks for indoor and outdoor play, including both lawn bowls and crown green bowls. Our online shop also has a range of practice jacks which can help during coaching sessions – although these may not be used during competitive play.
We supply a full range of other bowls, clothing and bowls accessories to customers in the UK and abroad. Henselite, Drake’s Pride and Taylor Bowls are among the leading names we stock. To visit our online shop, simply click here.