Marble Shooting Techniques

How to Shoot and Play Marbles - Teach and Learn

by R. Renée Bembry

“Learning how to play marbles can be loads of fun and there are many good things to say about playing marbles...”

First of all, the little round spheres are fascinating to look at. They are shiny, colorful, and full of unique patterns. Second, marbles feel cool and smooth in your hand and when you hold two or more simultaneously you can make them jingle. Third, marbles are fun to collect. You can get special collection stands to hold and display your marbles. Fourthly, there are so many variations in ways to play marbles kids can play marbles for hours without getting bored.

Other great things to say about marbles include the fact that playing marble games is good for hand eye coordination, improves concentration and motor skills, teaches kids to learn how to be strategic, and the games are interactive.

Marbles are good for adults too. They can play right along with children and one of the best parts about marble games is they can be enjoyed in or out of doors. Another "best thing" about marbles is they are "very" inexpensive!

Marbles Are Not Intended for Children Under 3 Marbles are small objects and should be kept out of reach of children under three years old.

Most marble games are initiated by drawing a circle in the dirt. The dirt should be "clean" and as lump free as possible. If leaves, grass, rocks and other debris are in the way, kids can easily, and usually enjoy, moving debris out of the way with the bottoms of their shoes. If debris is in the way, it should be removed prior to drawing the circle. Deliberately aiming to make a marble game more competitive by drawing a circle around debris, however, could make playing marbles even more interesting.

When participating in marble play competitions - after you get really good at shooting - you would more than likely play the game in a ten-foot circle and shoot at thirteen marble "targets" placed crosswise in the circle center. For basic everyday marble play, however, circles can be as big or small as reasonable for the age of the players and their playing ability. In other words, younger and less experienced players may benefit more from playing in smaller circles and then increasing the circle size as their shooting improves. Older more advanced players may prefer larger circles.

Generally, every day circles are etched about two to three feet in diameter. This size usually allows for kids who have not turned pro to compete with one another when they are around the same age.

The number of marbles required for everyday games depends on how many marbles are available and how many the children want to shoot from the circle before someone wins the game. For this reason, unlike professional competitive play that utilizes a mere thirteen marbles, home-style games can have fifty or more marbles in a circle.

One of the most important things about marbles in the circle is that they do not look like someone's "shooter". Shooters are marbles used as weapons that push target marbles to the outsides of circles. Shooters are usually bigger than the targets. Prior to play, each child chooses a shooter. If there is not enough bigger marbles available, players must select marbles that are easily distinguished from targets to use as their shooters. Otherwise, targets and shooters can get mixed up.

How to hold marbles when preparing to shoot

There are several ways in which marble players hold shooters before sending them after the targets. These holding positions include (1) making a fist with your thumb inside the fist to shoot, (2) plucking the marbles with a center finger, and (3) squeezing the marbles from between the thumb and index finger (not shown). It is a good idea for children and other newbies to practice different methods so they can decide which works best for them.

The most complicated method is the fist method. When shooting this way, you must make the kind of fist you do not want to make while fighting lest you may break your thumb! This method is the most popular because once perfected, it is the most effective. In order to use this method, players place their shooter inside their index finger. Alternatively explained, if you will - the index finger wraps around the marble. Therefore, what one does is makes a fist that allows a marble to be held with the index finger. The thumb, which is placed behind the marble, ejects the marble by briskly flicking it from the fist. When done correctly, shooters should spring into action and go sailing across playing circles to knock targets outside circle lines.

Taking turns shooting at targets

In most basic games of play, once a marble is shot from the circle, the person shooting it out pockets the marble and takes another turn. This process is repeated until the person misses and then the next person goes.

Before anyone shoots, players can determine to let younger players go first, let girls go first, or draw a line about four feet from the circle and then each player tosses or shoots their marbles toward the circle. When using the drawn line method, anyone who knocks a marble from the circle goes first. If more than one person knocks a marble from the circle, the person whose shooter is closest to a target still in the circle goes first. If someone knocks more than one marble from the circle, that person goes first, and so on. After all marbles are knocked out of the circle the person with the most marbles wins.

Prior to beginning the game, it must be determined whether the game is "for keeps" meaning all players get to keep any and all marbles they knock from the circle. When not playing for keeps, all marbles must be returned to rightful owners once marble play ends.

As stated above, there are many variations of how to play marbles. After learning how to shoot, players often seek to explore other marble playing games. Another thing, when playing marbles indoors, string may be used to make circles on the floor. Tape can be used to hold the string in place. In fact, tape can also be used to make the boundaries. Using tape, however, may not generate the roundness most players prefer when they are playing marbles.

More on playing marbles here.

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