We all have bowlers have at one time or another said “if I were to make a ball I would make mine….” Well we have found just such a person who did make a ball, well at least a new core design, his name is Kris Norman and he designed, made and eventually threw his own core on a ball he calls the Hitman. We took a few minutes with Kris and asked him about his revolutionary design.
My name is Kris Norman. I’m 34 years old and I’ve been married to my wife Jennifer since 2009. We recently welcomed our first child – Hunter, into our lives just over a year ago.
Although I’ve lived in rural Virginia for the majority of my life…West Virginia will always be “home” to me. Born a Mountaineer…Die a Mountaineer.
I (barely) make a modest living as a Prototyping Machinist at a local machine shop. I only attended college for about 15 minutes – long enough to know that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’ve been doing tool and die machine work for the past 15 years – and also beneficially, I was exposed to hands-on type work and hobbies since I was a child. I come from a long line of craftsmen and “tinkerers” in different trades. Carpenters, Millwrights, Mechanics, Electricians, etc.
I’ve been interested in bowling since I was a young child. My parents first took me and my brother for a family night out when I was about 4. My grandfather always took me out for a couple games whenever I returned to WV for a summer visit during my childhood years as well. It was a rare occasion, but I loved bowling every time I got to go. Because of these experiences, I started bowling in league when I was a teenager in the Virginia YABA. Later on, thanks to being around the alley so much, I was hired on as a floor boy. Soon, I “graduated” to front counter, then mechanic’s helper & lanes keeper. Among the many positions I held there, I also apprenticed as the proshop assistant…and eventually became the proshop manager at the ripe old age of 17. I worked at “Triangle Lanes” until I was 20 – and then moved on to a full-time career in machining.
So, in a bizarre “Perfect Storm” of sorts….with my inherited craftsmanship skills, my experience in proshop work and lane dressing, my career choice of being a machinist, and my love of the game – an idea was born.
Q: what is different about your CORE and design?
The core of my “Vigilante Hitman” ball is revolutionary for the following reasons:
• The inner core body is made of a binary compound formula of my own creation. It is very unique in that it is near the maximum allowable USBC density and is virtually indestructible, yet is still drillable.
• The outer core body is cast with raised ridges, which I call the “Kor-Loc” feature. These ridges create what is called “negative draft” in the molding industry – it mechanically reduces the possibility of the core becoming separated from the coverstock, which can occur over time when a ball’s outer core is simply smooth and spherical.
• The core design and characteristics allow it to be drilled so it is offset in all 3 axes of space (in both distance from the center [creating kinetic leverage] and in static weight).
• The core design incorporates about 5oz of top weight before drilling. This allows the bowler full use of the maximum 3oz of allowable top weight after drilling. More top weight & differential = more yaw = more flare = more “dry” surface contacting the lane = more hook & drive.
Also, because the ball flares so much, it helps prevent “rollout” or “rolling flat” into the pocket – like other balls with high hooking potential do when the lanes start to dry out or carry-down.
Because of the reduced rollout characteristic, the ball has more power reserved when it reaches the pins than other balls with a similar surface finish – on all lane conditions.
Q: Why did you invent this, did you see a void in the current line of equipment?
To be perfectly honest…No, that is not the reason I created my ball. I think anyone who’s ever drilled bowling balls has said at one time or another, “It’d be cool to design and make my own ball one day.” I was no exception. Years ago, I wanted to do it for no other reason than just to be able to say I did it. However, as it turned out, it was one thing for me to talk about doing it…but when I told people that I had actually began conception and construction, the doubters and naysayers started whispering and laughing behind my back about it – my ball project was a little joke that circled through the areas 2 alleys amongst the “elite” bowlers every time I spoke about a new development. But knowing and hearing about that sarcasm and skepticism only made me want to succeed even more!
Specs: Since my ball design has not been put through the wringer of official USBC analysis, my specifications listed below are estimates based upon my mathematical theory. Since the top weight and CG location worked out in perfect correlation with my estimates, it’s very likely that my calculations on the average RG and Differential are correct as well.
• I estimate the average RG to be very near the USBC low-end limits – at around 2.475”. This promotes early roll, fast revving, excellent mid-lane read and maximum hook potential on even the oiliest of conditions.
• I estimate the differential of my ball to be flirting with the USBC maximum limits at .059-.06”. This number, combined with the extreme top weight which is present in my ball, promote tremendous flare. As I mentioned before….more flare = more dry surface contacting the lane = more hook…and also less potential to roll out. [i.e.-If your ball is continuing to work to change its axis, it is less likely to stop turning and losing its driving power. Most “heavy oil” balls quit migrating their axis at around 10-15’ past their break point. If you look closely in the video at the slo-mo footage, my ball is still migrating its axis when it hits the pocket.]
Comparison: My ball has yet to be “out-hooked” by any ball on the market, with any drilling pattern, on any lane condition. **I should also mention that I call a legitimate “comparison” as one in which my ball and the comparison ball is thrown by the same bowler on the same lanes – one after the other.
[In an insanely disadvantageous comparison test, I voluntarily pitted the Hitman against a top-shelf hook monster from a leading manufacturer. What put my ball at such a disadvantage is that it is drilled for a right-handed bowler….the comparison ball was drilled for a left handed bowler – and both balls were thrown left-handed by the comparison ball’s owner. The Hitman held its own – even when being thrown off-handed.].
We have much more with Kris and his revolutionary design way too much for just one article. Look for Part 2 in a few days.