Columbia 300: Wicked Encounter

by Bob Johnson 0

57 Hook 12 Length 15 Breakpoint Shape

Manufacturer’s Intent: “The new Elastin coverstock provides a motion characteristic for this category that Columbia 300 fans have been asking for — more overall hook,” says Bugsy Kelly of Columbia 300. “The Elastin cover and the Encounter core are a great combination for strong hook and wicked strikes.”

Core Design: All three Encounters (Encounter, October 2011, and Dark Encounter, February 2012, are the others) share the same Encounter asymmetric core shape. The RG is medium at 2.50, while the differential’s .052 rating and .013 mass bias strengthen the core substantially. We saw nearly 6 inches of track flare with strong drillings and properly positioned weight holes. This core shape encourages fast revs with a strong arcing finish downlane.

Coverstock: Columbia 300’s stellar high-performance Encounter balls all use the Elastin cover family, albeit each with its very own version. The Wicked Encounter boasts the strongest version to date, the 8.0 Hybrid. The factory surface is sanded very aggressively with 800 and 1500 Abranet soft media. Colors are a bold fusion of orange, black and silver pearls. Oil traction is judged as well above average, and friction response is moderate. The surface Ra is medium-high.

Test Results: The Encounter asymmetric core is bowler-friendly, as it easily hides minor release position errors. The powerful cover formula ensures solid oil traction with a secure, non-flippy reaction off friction areas. The Wicked Encounter will easily read the midlane both earlier and stronger than the Dark Encounter. Testing showed a 3- to 4-board stronger total hook reading on all of our heavier test patterns. The down-lane motion was continuous, regardless of oil carrydown or angle of attack. The aggressive nature of the factory sanding allowed for our speed dominant tester to play deeper inside angles than with any of the other new releases this month.

When to Use: The entire Encounter lineup offers high-performance ball motion with three various hook amounts for medium to heavier oil volumes. The Encounter matches up best on medium-volume patterns. The Dark Encounter shines on medium-heavy patterns. The Wicked Encounter is best suited for heavier oil amounts due to its surface prep and cover formula. Speed dominant styles or those needing more mid-lane motion should give the Wicked Encounter a serious look. With the help of an IBPSIA-certified ball driller and Ebonite’s Blueprint software, anyone can get what they need in ball motion.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.