As a beginner you will often have a bunch of questions on how to play the game, and what happens when certain things happen. The one I hear most often from new bowlers is “Can I hit the jack?”
In short, yes you are allowed to hit the jack in lawn bowls.
But what happens next can be a little trickier to explain. In this guide, I will take you through the rules around hitting the jack, as well as covering all the different scenarios once it has been hit.
What happens when you hit the jack?
As I mentioned before, yes you can hit the jack at any point during a game of bowls. This can be a direct hit – where the bowl being delivered hits the jack, or indirectly – where the bowl being delivered hits another bowl, which in turn hits the jack.
Its what happens after that can be tricky to explain. There are 3 outcomes when a jack has been hit:
- the jack moves around the rink but stays within the rink markers
- the jack is knocked backwards into the ditch
- the jack is knocked sideways and goes beyond the rink markers
Lets look at what happens in each scenario
When the jack stays within the rink markers
If the jack is hit but it stays on the rink – i.e. if the jack stays out of the ditch, and within the rink markers – the end continues as normal, with the jack staying where it was moved to.
This can make it much trickier for the rest of the bowlers yet to play, especially if the jack moves sideways.
When the jack moves away from the centre of the rink it is known as an “off centre jack” and bowlers have to adjust their lines to reach the new target.
When the jack goes in the ditch
When the jack goes in the ditch the end continues as normal with the jack staying in the ditch.
This makes things very tricky for other bowlers to come, as a bowl is only in play if it stays on the green, so you have to bowl your bowl as close to the end of the ditch with out it falling in for it to count!
The only exception to this rule is if a bowl has touched the jack before it went in the ditch. These bowls are still considered “live” if they end up in the ditch.
For more information on this read my full guide on what happens when the jack goes into the ditch.
When the jack goes off the rink
If the jack is knocked out of the rink boundary markers the end is considered “dead”. The rules on a dead end vary depending on the level you play at, however the most common rule is the end finishes, and is replayed in the opposite direction.
For more information on this read my full guide on what happens when the jack goes off the rink.
Why do they put chalk on bowls
When a bowl touches the jack before it comes to rest it is known as a “toucher” and it is marked – usually with a stick of chalk, or a chalk spray.
This is done so that everyone knows it will stay “live” if it is knocked into the ditch. This means it will count as in play when the scoring is done once the end finishes.
For more information on this read my full guide on what is a toucher in lawn bowls.
As you can see, it is possible to hit the jack in lawn bowls. The complexity comes with what happens once you see where it ends up!