“I’ve been bowling since I was 10 years old,” says Les Johnson. “What I like about it is you meet different people every week, because you’ll bowl against a different team. It’s nice way to network socially.”
Johnson is the president of the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association — or CARA — which holds regular “social bowling night” events to introduce newcomers to the sport. The next one currently planned for December, but if you can’t wait that long to get into the game, try joining one of CARA’s leagues.
CARA runs six LGBTQ bowling leagues in the D.C. area, and they meet at four different bowling alleys in Northern Virginia. Four run from September through the end of April, while two others run from September to December and have a separate session from January through April. Leagues meet on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, allowing participants to choose one that works best with their schedule.
“We’re open to everyone, and you can join any time of the year,” says Johnson. “You don’t have to have experience in order to bowl. Beginners are welcome, even in our more competitive leagues.”
Costs vary by league, but on average total about $20 per week. Participants also pay a one-time fee to become a member of the U.S. Bowling Congress, the governing body for recreational bowling. On the bright side, every person gets a chance to win some money back, as prizes are awarded for first through last place each season.
The level of competitiveness differs based on the league. “Some people are much more social about their bowling, and they’re not really concerned about how much they score,” says Johnson. “For others, it’s about practice and finding the right bowling equipment and repeating the same technique over and over again.
“Bowling’s all related to how you do against your average. The sport tries to reward all skill levels, regardless of where you are or how you start.”
To learn more about the Capital Area Rainbowlers Association and its fall/winter leagues, or to sign up for a league, visit carabowling.org.