Bionic Bowler update
February 10, 2017
taking responsibility bowls clubs closing
Clubs closing – Who’s next on the Sunshine Coast?
February 24, 2017

Bowling arm coaching from The Bionic Bowler

bowling arm course at Pine Rivers Bowls Club

The Bionic Bowler (Ian Rowan) plays bowls using a bowling arm and writes for Bowls Plus. 

Well, 2017 certainly started with significant change for myself. I was successful in securing a fantastic new and challenging position as CEO of RACQ CQ Rescue Service in Mackay, Queensland. The “significant” part means leaving Brisbane and relocating to Mackay! Thank you so much to my old club, Pine Rivers Bowls Club for introducing me to bowls and for making me so welcome as a novice bowler.

Naturally, my new role requires me to prioritise work and so playing bowls is restricted to evenings and weekends. I’ll be bowling at the North Mackay Bowls Club (NMBC).

Coaching for arm bowlers

NMBC has a significant number of both men and women who use bowling arms. On my second weekend here, BQ Coaches Thorpy and George presented a development course for 100+ local bowlers.  I assisted by coaching those using bowling arms, who recognised the benefits of having an Arm Coach check their technique.

Bowling arms are a reality

It is evident that bowling arms are fast becoming a reality for older bowlers and those with injuries or debilitating illness. For non-arm bowlers to see this as a threat or giving some advantage is sadly ridiculous.

If you are fortunate to be blessed with good health allowing you to bowl, then be thankful.  Please do not raise your ire at bowlers using the bowling arm. It allows them to participate and contribute to bowls. We have an ageing population and many sports become impossible to participate in if people cannot move as well as they used to. Bowls is one of the exceptions and as bowlers, surely we must encourage more people to play bowls?

It may be some way off before we have an Arm bowler representing Australia at the highest international level. However, I can foresee a time when Arm bowlers are regularly competing at State and National Championships.


  1. David allison says:

    As a arm bowler may I say that I am enjoying bowls more as no pain

    • OSAAT says:

      That’s great to hear Dave! I think that arm bowlers are doing a lot to help people stay in the sport, so keep bowling!

  2. Trish Welsh says:

    I’m only 62 but the arthritis in both hands made holding a bowl impossible. Thank goodness for my hacksaw. I’m now enjoying the game agin.

  3. Philip Benton says:

    I have just read the article and as an avid Lawn Bowler for around 18 years it gives me great pleasure to see people enjoying the great game of lawn bowls.
    I played all sports through life my last sport being Golf prior to taking up lawn bowls. I had an accident at work and ended up not playing anything for 2 years which for me was very depressing. I started lawn bowls using a walking stick and had great success winning 3 Number One Pennants and going off to the state twice. I have won all championships a number of times at Lawn Bowls except for 3 Runner Up Singles Titles. I have been playing without a bowling aid and suffering a great deal of late. My friends at bowls said why don’t you get a Bowling Arm. We just won the No 2 Pennant and will be in Div One next year. I have just recently in the past 2 years been in 4 Championship Finals. I know that I am in pain every day and perhaps now I should take the next step and join the Bowling Arm Lawn Bowlers, I have many friends who are using them with great success and free of pain. I feel a bit sad that I have to go to an arm but if it keeps playing this great game then I will take the plunge into a new world of bowls with the arm. I don’t know which arm to buy or what size I am six foot tall. The DHB feels light and comfortable in your hands and arms and some of my friends have them.
    Kind Regards

    • OSAAT says:

      Thanks for your message Philip. I’m glad that you can continue playing sport and are embracing lawn bowls. It’s a great community and there might be people at your club who can advise on the best arm for you to use. If not, there are often coaches at club or district/zone level who should be able to help you. It’s a good idea to test out a few before committing to purchase one, as they have different release mechanisms. Good luck with your bowls and we wish you all the best. Hopefully we’ll see your name again at State level.

  4. Phil Benton says:

    Hi Ossat
    Thank you for your reply back it is great to hear from you, I ventured out and got the original Bowling Arm from Bendigo with the push down handle as it appeared a bit easier for me to handle. I asked the manufacturer what size and he asked me how tall I was and he recommended a Long Arm. I have had
    6 goes with it thus far with 3 losses and 3 wins back to back which is funny. I know it will take a bit to get used to after using it and we have been playing in some terrible windy conditions of late but I think it will be a blessing for me as I don’t have that throbbing ache in my back or knees after a game . It does feel a bit like putting at golf, there are many people with arms in our district and one of my friends who plays for the QLD State side who also uses the Brand I have, he said that they were very popular when he went down to play in the State Finals.
    I hope to keep practising and playing and learning with the Bowling Arm and enjoying myself at this great game, it is very funny at times with fellow bowlers running over and asking why are you using that Bowling Arm. I just say because I have to and I should have got one a few years ago which I would have be able to owing to my injuries. One of my friends said just laugh it off and let it go over your head which I have done.
    Good Bowling to all
    Phil Benton

    • OSAAT says:

      That’s so great to hear Phil! A 50-50 strike rate is pretty impressive so far. Hopefully your story will encourage others to embrace the arm and in so doing, continue playing the sport they love. I wish you many happy bowling hours ahead!

  5. Colin Griffin says:

    I recently had a bowler tell me he could learn to bowl with an arm in 2 weeks – and he could, but it takes a lot more practice to bowl well.

    Bowling arm knockers are a weird lot, because they somehow believe that a mechanical arm must have some kind of directional control not available to an ordinary flesh and blood arm with a flesh and blood hand attached. When in fact, a mechanical bowling arm is controlled by a flesh and blood arm with a flesh and blood hand attached without a sighting aid (no gun sights on bowling arms)

    Or maybe it is the weight control advantage of arm bowlers – hand bowlers can use their sensitive finger tips but arm bowlers have to rely on their pendulum swing. (if you push the top of a bowling arm the bowl does not get the same amount of push.)

  6. jennifer flynn says:

    I have just won our club pairs championship with a fellow arm bowling & 10 minutes later overheard conversation on the advantages we had by using an arm. I have spent the last 6 years practising & improving my game. In less than 12mths after swapping to a hacksaw arm my game has improved but it has taken a great deal of practice & coaching, a big thanks to my coach. It really bugs me that after all these years of players using a mechanical arm we’re still hearing these silly comments. Could it just be jealousy.

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