What is a No Shot in Lawn Bowls?

  • By: Jack Toucher
  • Date: July 19, 2023

A no shot in lawn bowls refers to a score that is too close to call. In other words, it is impossible to tell which bowl is lying the shot (is closest to the jack).

The most common no shot

Usually a no shot is declared by the skips if two bowls of opposing teams are both touching the jack, as in the image above. Obviously it is not possible in this case to determine which bowl is closer to the jack and therefore one cannot determine which bowl scores the point.

Another kind of no shot is if two bowls of opposing players are exactly equidistant from the jack. In a tournament probably the umpire will be called to measure the shot to make a determination which bowl lies the shot and therefore scores the point. The umpire uses specific devices, such as a telescopic measure, to reach a decision. The umpire may be unable to determine a winning shot and will declare a no shot.

An unusual no shot

A kind of no shot that is rarely seen is one where there are no bowls left in the rink to measure. For instance, in a singles game several bowls may land up in the ditch with a number of bowls remaining on the lip of the ditch. If a player then sends his bowl along with the remainder of the bowls into the ditch, and no bowls are left in play (ie. there are no bowls on the green and no touchers in the ditch), then this counts as a no shot.

What to do after a no shot is declared

Players are sometimes confused about what to do with a no shot on a score card. Essentially the no shot must be recorded as tied AND be noted on the card as a completed end. Simply put, one carries the previous score down.

So if the score was 14-9 on the 8th end followed by a no-shot end, the 9th end should be recorded as 14-9 again. (I like to make a small pencil note in the margin pointing out that this is not a mistake but that it was indeed an end that was declared a no shot. That is for the convenience of the umpire and those doing the tournament administrative work in the office.)

The team or side that had won the mat for the end that tied then has the mat again.

World Bowls rules about no shot scoring

Here is the official word from World Bowls Rules of Bowls regarding no shots:

24 No shot scored – tied end
24.1 There will be no shot scored by either team or opponent in Singles if it is agreed
24.1.1 the nearest bowl of each team or opponent is touching the jack;
24.1.2 the nearest bowl of each team or opponent is the same distance from the
jack; or
24.1.3 no live bowls are left within the boundaries of the rink of play.
21 August 2022
24.2 The end must be declared tied and recorded on the score card as a completed
24.3 Following a tied end, law 5.4 will apply.
24.4 If, however, the first end is a tied end, the first to play in that end must also play
first in the second end.

Rule 5.4 in the Laws of Bowls reads as follows:

5.4 Play in other ends
In all ends after the first but apart from in an extra end, the winner of the
previous scoring end must place the mat and then deliver the jack and the first