Tenpin bowling is a social activity that most people enjoy quite regularly nowadays.
The first time I tried it was in my teen years when my brothers took me to Hollywood Bowls in Brizlington in Bristol. This was quite a memorable experience because they kept trying to position me in the right place to throw the bowl straight down the middle and it never reached the pins!
I had a few failed turns before a member of staff came along to tell us that I could use the barriers to help the bowl reach the pins. The barriers would automatically come into place for my turn and then go down for everyone else's turns. This was news to us and I was surprised to see an improvement in my game as small as it was.
Although I have always been bowling with my friends and family ever since, I was never really a good player. That is until I joined the team of visually impaired bowlers in the summer of 2005.
It still makes me laugh to remember how much everyone else on that team joked about my bowling technique, or lack of it as the case was! I even became known as "the barrier queen" for a while and I'm sure they miss that now because they still refer to it every now and then.
After a lot of advice and coaching from just about everyone, I slowly began to improve my bowling technique which was seen as a miracle to most!
I got told everything from how to stand with my right leg behind my left one, to try standing sideways to throw across my legs, to practice my swing and test my aim before throwing, and so on.
The majority of my success is credited to a friend's mum who goes bowling with us every Tuesday. My gratitude is endless because I would never have improved if she hadn't put so much time and effort into helping me get it right. She even shared games with me to get us a better score while teaching me how to perform better at the same time. She rescued me from all the shame and embarrassment of being the worst player while everyone else was so great and I will forever be thankful for that!
I am now able to play a good game on most weeks and usually score between 100 and 115 which is a huge step up from the 50 or so that I use to score with great difficulty in the recent past!
I know that to most people this story might sound trivial, but I believe that it is important for visually impaired people to do the things they enjoy doing regardless of how visual they may be. It is too easy to give up trying when there are so many barriers holding us back, but the feeling that one experiences after achieving high can only be properly understood when it is directly experienced firsthand. Experience has shown me that it is this exact feeling of achievement that keeps me going on to face and conquer other potential drawbacks.
For me personally, breaking down one barrier despite its size gives me hope and determination with regards to future barriers that I know I will have to
deal with throughout my life as a visually impaired individual.
Bowling rails are available for purchase from:
American Blind Bowling Association
315 N. Main St.
Houston, PA 15342
Contributor: Anela Naz