This past summer I was offered an unique experience south of the border. Many know that 5pin does not exsist in the States however, what you may not know if that there is a type of alternative to 5pin that's fresh and exciting to the 5pin bowler. I am aware that this is a 5pin blog site and that there are many 5pin purists out there that will want to keep this strictly to 5pin, but let's be honest, it's a great opportunity to try something new.
Basically, my first Duckpin experience was a long time coming. Connie Ward had been bugging me for a couple years to give Duckpin a try, and that I would a) do well and b) love everything about it. With the aid of Brian Whalen, Connie finally convinced me to try it. We made the trip from Ontario to Rhode Island, to play the Duckpin's pro tour, having never thrown a ball before. Our trip saw myself, my usual partner in crime Jeff Forester, and Woodstock Ontario's Kristi Lampman being introduced to the game. We got settled in on Friday night after a long drive to Rhode Island and thought we would try a couple games before jumping in with both feet.
To show you the initial draw of the game of Duckpin, Kristi originally was only going to watch us play. After we played a couple games on Friday night, it was clear that she was going to be joining the tour as well. Duckpin uses pretty much the same ball as we use in 5pin, with the only difference being you can use a slightly heavier ball (3 lb 12 oz) and of course the main difference being that they use 10 smaller rubberless pins as opposed to our 5 with rubbers. I will warn any 5pin bowler that this game is very addicting and anyone wanting to try their pro tour, to do so.
I'll list things that I have considered to be great positives for Duckpin (primarily the Tours) from my own point of view as well as others I have competed with from Canada:
- Their Tour season falls mostly during the summer months. This is great for many reasons:
Coming from Canada means a fair distance to drive, and you certainly don't want to be driving through snowstorms.
Our typical 5pin season is on a break during the summer so the tour would not interfere with most of the competitive tournaments in 5pin.
I like to see cool things and places. Myself, Kristi and Brian travelled to a tournament in Baltimore MD and ended up going to 2 Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, visited the White House and the Washington Monument. Our Rhode Island trip had us seeing mansions in Newport and standing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Right from the moment you check in to the tournament, you see how professional the Tours are. They take their rules and guidelines very seriously. You check in your bowling balls to be weighed and diameter checked 30 mins before start time. If your bowling balls don't fit the requirements, they are not used.
Their dress code requires a collared shirt with the Tour patch on the front and your name written on the back. You are even allowed a flag patch (I wore a Canada flag patch on my sleeve with pride) on your shirt.
I've never bowled in a tournament before where I had to stand at the foul line before the start of the event and had the national anthems played. I cannot begin to tell you how proud it made me feel to not only hear O Canada before my qualifying shift, but also before the playoffs, knowing that I was representing my country in the event.
- The Excitement
I throw the ball pretty hard, so the idea of launching a ball at 10 smaller pins without rubbers is exciting. There have been times where I felt I needed a helmet with all those flying pins bouncing around. Also, in 5pin, you can throw a shot and know the result the second it leaves your hand. Duckpin is unpredictable and there is no time where you're 100% sure you know what the end result is going to be when the pins stop flying. This makes for an exciting game.
- The People
I was really amazed at the friendliness of the competitors on the Tour right from the beginning. We were even offered tickets to the Orioles game by another player on tour if we gave him enough notice. The people really make the atmosphere and have really made me want to go back for more events. I frequently talk to players from the Duckpin tours and we carry out a lot of deep conversations about both 5pin and Duckpin.
I have a couple Youtube videos of myself bowling Duckpin on the Tour (Sadly, I don't even have videos of myself bowling 5pin) just to give you an idea of the pinfall in Duckpin.
And finally if you are interested in trying out either of the Duckpin Tours, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself, Brian Whalen for the Men's Tour and Connie Ward for the Women's tour. You can also find everything you need to know about these tours at their websites.
For the Men, check out DPBA TOUR
For the Women, check out WNDA TOUR