Five Pin Bowling a Made in Canada Activity to Love

Published Friday, March 13, 2009

5 pin bowling is a sport unique to Canada. In a recently aired two hour special entitled “The Greatest Canadian Invention” CBC revealed the results of a vote, done online, of Canadian creations. 5 pin bowling was voted as the fourth best Canadian invention.

5 pin bowling was created in 1909 by Tommy Ryan of Toronto, Ontario. Tommy Ryan ran a bowling centre and was responding to complaints from customers that 10 pin bowling was too strenuous. Ryan cut five of his tenpins to about 75% of their size, and he created hard rubber balls that were suitable to fit in a players’ hand. The game quickly caught on. Today there are over 500 bowling centres in Canada. There are approximately 150,000 leagues throughout Canada made up of 5 pin bowlers of all skill sets and ages.

Fifteen years ago, as a newlywed, Carla Yager learned to play 5 pin bowling. “My husband Jerome taught me when we got married.” Several years later Carla’s sister invited her to become involved in a league.

In 2003 there was a demonstration, in Carla’s hometown of Kelowna, of the BC Disability Games. Carla loved the experience of the demonstration and looked forward to experiencing the real BC Disability Games. In 2005 she got her chance when she traveled to Naniamo for the games. This summer Carla will be competing in her third BC Disability Games. She is looking forward to “meeting new people” and to having new and exciting experiences.

Carla is drawn to bowling because of the “good team works”. Carla loves the team experience because of the spirit of play and sportsmanship. Carla also loves that bowling is not just a fun and social sport but that it is a sport which challenges the players weekly. Each week Carla works to improve her score and her overall average.

In 5 pin bowling the bowler has three shots at knocking down five pins that are sixty feet away and that are arranged in a V shape. The player throws a hand sized ball down a lane that has gutters on either side. While the point of the game is to knock down all the pins it is not easy to throw a strike every time so 5 pin bowlers must learn strategy. Due to the differing point values of the pins 5 pin bowling tends to allow for more strategy in its play than the 10 pin variant.

A perfect score in 5 pin bowling is 450 points. After the game was invented in 1909 it took 12 years before a perfect score was achieved. A perfect score in 5 pin bowling is attained much less frequently than a perfect score in 10 pin bowling. Carla tends to score between 170 to 225 which puts her at the level of a skilled bowler.

Carla, who was born deaf, competes in 5 pin bowling which falls under the phrase “adaptive sport” in the BC Disability Games but for Carla, and her fellow bowlers, the only adaption is that of the spectators getting used to the words flying a mile a minute through hands rather than mouths.

When Carla speaks of her previous two experiences bowling in the BC Disability Games she is most excited about the opportunity to meet new people and says that it is “fun to chat with each other”. Carla is looking forward to participating in the the 2009 BC Disability Games which are being held in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.

2009 is also the 100 year anniversary of 5 pin bowling, Canada’s fourth greatest invention.