Sadly, the pastime of bullet throwing or long bullets has been lost over recent decades but T.G.F. Paterson, former Curator of the Armagh County Museum, recorded that it was once widely practised throughout the county. The origins of the game are unknown but it would seem to have come from Great Britain and was enthusiastically adopted by the native Irish population of this county.
The sport involves throwing an iron bullet or 'bowl', weighing approximately twenty-eight ounces, along a designated course using the least number of throws to reach the end of the course. Usually this pastime was conducted along country roads with scouts posted at intervals along the course to halt the game in the event of oncoming traffic.
Large crowds gathered to cheer the participants along and the betting could reach stakes of over one hundred pounds.
Despite the weight of the bullets and the uncertainty in the pitch TGF Paterson recalled attending numerous games over a fifty-year period but never witnessed an injury.
The increased volume of traffic made it difficult to find a country road upon which to play and the sport was enjoyed less and less. In later years, the police frequently called a halt to matches and moved the crowds along. The sport occasionally occasionally takes place along roads in the county. The betting stakes can be surprisingly high. [AM]