In defence of the “cheat stick”

by Team BV

This letter was originally published in Bowls Queensland’s Queensland Bowler magazine, and is reproduced here with the magazine’s permission
By Gail Karran, Urangan Bowls Club
I don’t know about anyone else’s bowling arm but mine is an inanimate object and it would be surprised to hear it’s a ‘cheat’.
So I can only surmise I am the ‘cheat’?
If you’re a ‘knocker’ who makes these sorts of mean spirited comments when beaten by an arm bowler, please consider the big picture.
It is within the laws of our game to legally use an artificial device, ever since Bowls Australia included them in the Domestic Regulations (Law 3.4)
Some consider it ‘easy’ to get approved to use a bowling arm, but I can tell you from personal experience:  it sure is hard to master using one.
I bowled out of my hand for more than 20 years from 1993 until a fall in late December 2014 put me out of action. 
I picked up a bowling arm in 2016 and I bless the foresight of World Bowls and Bowls Australia that I am able to continue playing the game I love.
I’ve also heard disgruntled comments along the lines of “arm bowlers shouldn’t be allowed to play in our comps because we can’t play in theirs…”
Members enter clubs championships under conditions of entry (and arm bowlers are legally able to enter).
There are all sorts of restrictions in the course of club play – Novice, Veteran, B Grade, juniors, Mixed, etc.
There are also many competitions with restrictions – Juniors, Men/Women, Past Presidents, Major/Minor, Champion of Champion, Pennant, Junior/Senior, etc. 
The only major restrictive event I can play as an arm bowler (that you can’t) is the annual interstate National Arm Bowler Championships – no different to a restricted Past Presidents carnival (you can’t play in them either, if you’re not a PP).
Arm bowlers support their clubs, just like you.
After meetings, we often enjoy a social bowl or host an event there. 
An arm device allows us to keep active and support our sport.
Things change. It wasn’t that long ago those players using ‘narrow draw’ bowls were called cheats. Are they now? 
I’ve been told my bowling arm is a ‘cheat stick’ because I only have to swing, no technique required.
I have challenged my critics to give my bowling arm a try – yet no one has taken me up on it to date, to show me how easy it is.
If I beat you, whether it’s social or competition, it’s my ability (and team) on the day.
If I bowl badly or lose, no one complains about my ‘cheat stick’.
Please, think twice before being rude and dismissive about this wonderful tool that enables me to keep playing the game I love.
Please don’t blame my ‘cheat stick’ if I win, just tell me I played a good game, because I won’t be blaming it if I lose.
Have you seen Bowls Victoria’s dedicated Arm Bowling section? Click here