What Does Lying Shot Mean in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Kitty Driver
  • Date: November 8, 2023

Perhaps you have been watching a lawn bowls championship on TV and heard the commentator talking about a player or team “lying shot”. Or you have heard players on a bowling green saying “we are lying shot:”.

This expression simply means that the team or player in question has the bowl lying closest to the target bowl, which is the white ball, called the jack or the kitty.

During an end (which means playing all the bowls from one side of the green to the other) the lying shot may change. For instance, a certain bowl may be lying shot but then the opponent’s bowl beats it and then that player or team lies shot.

The reason the word “shot” is used is because once the end is complete, the players will agree on how many shots a team is lying. Number of shots = number of points the team will win for that end. NOTE: The team whose bowls are not lying earn no points at all for that end.

Generally, the person calling the shot will simply say “we are lying shot” rather than saying we are “lying four shots”, for instance. Usually all the player(s) at the other side of the green want to know if the shot is lying or not.

A synonym for “lying shot” is “holding shot”.

What is the opposite of lying shot?

When a player wants to indicate that the opposite team is lying shot, she will usually say: “The shot is down”. Once again, this situation can change as play progresses.

In the photo above, green is lying the shot. A green bowl is rolling towards the head, and it will apparently beat the red bowl, which will mean that the green team is lying two shots. The red team will be down two shots. Of course, this situation could change as the end progresses.

If the green bowl rolling into the head is the last bowl of the end, and it lies closer to the kitty than the red bowl, then the green team will earn two points and the red team no points at all.

Can you measure to determine if the shot is lying?

No, you may not measure during the course of the end to determine if a certain bowl is lying shot. Only once all the bowls of the end have been played is measuring allowed. Up until then, it merely the callers opinion as to whether a shot is lying or if it’s down. If he is uncertain, he will indicate or say that a measure will be required to determine if the shot is lying or not.

World Bowls Crystal Mark of Bowls Laws is quite clear on the matter:


No measuring will be allowed before the process of deciding the number of shots
scored starts (as described in law 23.1). If a player measures before the process
of deciding the number of shots scored starts, the defaulting team or opponent in
Singles will lose the right to play any bowls remaining to be played in that end
and the non-defaulting team or opponent in Singles will deliver their remaining
bowls to complete the end.

Laws of the Sport of Lawn Bowls