Irish Road Bowling

Toss a cannonball and win some prizes…

The Missoula AOH is sponsoring Missoula’s sixth annual Irish Road Bowling event. Get a friend to register with you as a team and then spend the morning of the festival learning a sport that has been played in Ireland for centuries. Registration is open and the registration fee will be collected at the event. The fee is $20.00 per team of two. We encourage team shirts!


The annual Irish Road Bowling Tournament will be held near Florence, Montana, on the walking trail. Park at the Carlton Creek Park and Ride (about mile marker 78). Follow the signs from there a short ways along the walking trail to the starting point. The course continues on the walking trail and is a little less than a mile (which is shorter than last year for those of you who participated). It is a fun course with just enough curves and small hills to keep it interesting.bowling

Irish Road Bowling 101

Traditionally, Irish road bowling in Ireland is governed by the voluntary Irish Road Bowling Association. The basic premise is similar to golf. Participants, usually single opponents, throw a 28-ounce bowl or “bullet” along a country road course, up to 4 km long, and the fewest throws to traverse the distance wins the contest.

A road shower advises the thrower about the throw (or shot) much like a caddy, whilst another helper stands ahead of the thrower, feet apart, to show the best line or path in the road.

The thrower runs to the throwing mark and extends the arm and bowl behind him as he runs. At the throwing mark, the arm is snapped forward by arching the back and shoulders, releasing the bowl underhand before stepping over the mark. As the thrower runs to the mark the arm and bowl are lifted up and back, then whirled downward into an underhand throw, releasing the bowl before stepping over the mark.

Wherever the bowl stops (not where it leaves the road surface), a chalk mark is made at the nearest point on the road and the next throw is taken from behind that mark.

Over tight curves or corners where two roads meet, the bowl may be thrown through the air (lofted). The loft must strike the road or pass over it. If the loft fails to reach the road, it counts as one shot, and the next throw must be taken again from the same mark.

If two players or teams approach the finish line with equal shots, the winner is decided by which throw goes farther past the finish line.

Bowling FAQ

A Score

A match. In the past, players were given 20 shots each, the winner determined by who wen tthe greatest distance.

A Shot

A throw

Bowl of Odds

When one bowler is one full shot fewer than his opponent, i.e., when a bowler is equal to or farther in distance than his opponent but has thrown one less shot.

Bowl or Bullet

The 800 g (28 oz) small cannonball, with a circumference of 18 cm, used in Irish Road Bowling.

Bullets or Long Bullets

The County Armagh term for road bowling.


The throwing mark on the road. To step over the mark before releasing the bowl is to “break butt”.

Clear the Road

To get spectators out of the road in front of the thrower.


A sharp curve in the road or a corner where two roads meet.

Faugh a Ballach!

Traditional Irish battle cry (Clear the Way!).

Get Sight

Or “Open the Corner” – To throw so deeply into the curve that the next throw is a straight shot out.


A left-handed thrower.


To throw through the air.


A tuft of grass placed in the road at a spot where the bowl should first strike the surface. An experienced bowler can “Split the Sop”.

Stylish Bowler


Register Here.