Hammer: First Blood

by Bob Johnson 0

52 Hook 15 Length 16.5 Breakpoint Shape

Manufacturer’s Intent: “First Blood combines our new Hammer First Blood core shape with the NBT (Next Big Thing) coverstock,” says Jeff Ussery of Hammer. “By aggressively surfacing our NBT cover and adding Powerhouse factory finish, Hammer has created its longest and sharpest back-end reaction ever. First Blood is built to push down the lane with ease, while unleashing a powerful back-end move.”

Core Design: The Hammer First Blood asymmetric core has low RG of 2.48, a .056 differential and a .009 PSA strength. We saw more than 6 inches of track flare. The asymmetry of the core allowed us to modify the motion shape. The tall core design with flip block can produce added back-end motion for those with lower rev rates.

Coverstock: Providing the long and strong motion is the NBT solid veneer, which is sanded with a four-part process. The first, second and third are 500-grit Abralon, and the fourth a 1500 sanding with Abranet. Lastly, the surface is high polished for maximum length. Colors are a mix of orange, silver and blue. Response time is quick and strong. Oil traction is limited. The Ra is 1.90 and the surface grit 5300.

Test Results: The First Blood was extremely easy through the fronts and midlane on all fresh patterns and even through moderate oil breakdown. The back-end motion was aggressive and strong on moderate to heavy breakdown for all testers. We felt the First Blood may have had a little too much length for us on some of our fresh medium to heavier volumes, but a light surface scuff alleviated this distraction quite nicely. Pin carry was above average from a multitude of angles and actually improved as the pattern deteriorated. Our lower rev guy had by far his best looks with this ball.

When to Use: The First Blood excelled on light to medium volumes and patterns that went through breakdown transition. Heavier volumes were not in the intended range of this ball, so use accordingly or hit the surface with your favorite grit of sanding pad. Our lane play and pin carry from angles as deep as 25-board were very good, as expected, for our medium and high rev testers.

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.