Columbia 300: Dark Encounter

by Bob Johnson 0

53 Hook 13.5 Length 15 Breakpoint Shape

Manufacturer’s Intent: “We are following up the long and angular Encounter [October 2011] with a dull ball that was made to handle a heavier volume while still creating a good back-end motion,” says Bugsy Kelly, Columbia’s brand manager. “The core, cover and finish combination of the Dark Encounter make this a great choice for anyone looking for that big hook motion.”

Core Design: The Encounter asymmetric core is also found in the original Encounter. The medium RG of 2.50 and .052 Diff rev up later and produce nearly 5.5 inches of track flare. The shape of this core encourages angularity, while the coverstock surface encourages strong mid-lane traction.

Coverstock: The Elastin 7.5 solid reactive cover is designed to be stronger than the Elastin 6.0 found on the original Encounter. Factory finish is sanded with 500, 1000 and two 2000 grit Abralon pads. Coverstock colors are black, ultra blue and super violet. Oil traction is above average, while response time is moderately quick with the out-of-box surface.

Test Results: The Dark Encounter delivered the goods on most medium to medium-heavy oil volume patterns. The motion shape was 2 to 3 feet earlier and slightly smoother when leaving the oil pattern than an alike-drilled Encounter. We saw a more angular move downlane with pin positions above the fingers, which matched up well when playing deeper lines of attack on longer patterns. The total hook was, on average, three boards stronger than the Encounter, with most of this occurring in the oil portion of the pattern. The motion shape actually seemed like a cross between the Total Bedlam (February 2010) and Pure Physics (July 2010).
When to Use: Our most favorable matchups were from outside angles with pin-down drillings on Sport conditions. When playing deeper inside lines, our higher positioned pin layouts gave us a more angular breakpoint shape for all testers. The Dark Encounter played very nicely through oil carrydown as well as on most medium-heavy oil volume patterns. The controlled response off high friction areas made the ball easy to both control and stay with through the transition. The ball will favor many speed-dominant release styles, especially with layouts utilizing lower drill and VAL angles.

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.

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