Kirby: I need your bowling balls for cannon bowling

By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

Published: March 16, 2014 07:23PM
Updated: March 16, 2014 07:23PM
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Robert Kirby, Tribune columnist

Sonny and I have taken up bowling in a big way. I never realized just how much fun there is in a sport previously considered even more pointless than golf.

Granted, my experience with bowling had been limited to a few first dates and catching glimpses of it on TV where announcers discussed it in hushed, conspiratorial tones normally reserved for the clergy and criminals.

Everything changed when Sonny and I got our hands on a bowling ball cannon. Now bowling is interesting as well as important.

Cannon bowling works on the same principles as regular bowling but now the lane is a mile long, the pins are trees and a “strike” can be heard in the next county. Even farther if you accidentally hit somebody important.

We acquired our “BB” gun through entirely legal means. We got it from a known arms dealer who specializes in high-end lunatic weaponry: Rick at Coaches Club Cannons.

In addition to bowling, CCC makes guns applicable to other sports. Who knew that golf, baseball and tennis had whole other levels to them?

Bowling ball gunnery is not, as you may be thinking, just a sport. It’s also hard scientific research. Don’t tell me that you’ve never wondered whether a slightly used Radical ReAx competition ball could go clear through a stack of wooden pallets.

Well, it will. Not only that, it will keep on going through a fence AND an old shed for another 150 yards. You’re welcome.

Like most sports, there is some risk to BB gunnery, not the least of which is to always remember where you parked, and to never “bowl” in the direction of civilization.

Bowling like this has changed my life. Where I once saw some things as onerous, I now see them as advantageous.

Yesterday, my daughter asked me to install a new washer and dryer in a laundry room the size of a coat closet. It took two hours of sweating and cursing to manhandle the old ones out and the new ones in.

Finished, I was left with what to do with the old appliances. Where I once would have been thinking “a trip to the landfill” I now thought, “Cool targets.”

With due caution, long practice and enough ammunition, it’s possible to turn semi-pro in bowling ball gunnery. Crazy Dave in Richfield challenged Sonny and me to a BB shootout in July. Best of three shots or until the cops come.

All of this brings me to the point of this column, which is a serious one. Practice can be expensive.

The primary difference between ordinary bowling and cannon bowling is that the former employs an automatic ball return.

At a bowling alley your ball is returned to you in a matter of seconds regardless of how much force you used to send it down range. There’s even a machine to polish up your ball if it gets a little scratched.

Cannon bowling is pretty much a one-way affair. When you send the ball on its way with a 4-ounce “release” of black powder, you aren’t going to want it back. And that’s assuming you can even find the damn thing.

So we need bowling balls. New or used, it doesn’t matter. They all shoot the same. If you have one you want to get rid of, let me know.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.