The Tower Handbook

13.7: Learning dodging and hunting

a: Is it worth bothering with dodging practice?

The theory of dodging is so easy it hardly seems worth bothering with - like permanent call changes with the same bell. And you may find it gets tiring after the first half dozen dodges. So why do it? Dodging practice is important because it puts considerable demands on your ability to control your bell in a manoeuvre with virtually no need for ropesight or any other mental activity to complicate things. And because you stay in the same two places, you know exactly where you should be, and you get very good feedback if you aren't. All you have to remember is which stroke is over and which under the other bell.

If it is very hard work, you are probably over pulling, something you must learn not to do if you are to ring methods successfully.

If you think dodging is so easy, show your instructor that you can do it accurately without fuss and you may be moved on to something more exciting.

b: Why do I find hunting so difficult when it looks easy?

Plain hunting looks easy. Learning what to do is fairly easy. The problem is doing it. Plain hunt is a method in its own right [171]. You learn it first because hunting (with dodging) is the basis for all other methods. Remember that hunting is all about changing speed (changing by the right amount at the right time). Most beginners change speed too little and too late. If you concentrate on getting this right, then all the other complications like ropesight will be a lot easier, because you will be in roughly the right place anyway and heading in roughly the right direction. Don't forget to count your places so you know when to change speed at the back and the front.

c: How many different speeds do you need to be able to ring?

The standard answer is three: normal, slow and fast. These correspond to making places, hunting up and hunting down. In fact this ignores the slightly different speed needed at handstroke and backstroke in open lead ringing. So there are really six speeds, but it is probably simpler to think of three main speeds with a slightly quicker backstroke and slower handstroke superimposed on them. The differences between these speeds depends on the number of bells. With twelve bells, the ratio between the speeds is 11 : 12 : 13 (less than 10% between each), but with 4 bells it is 3 : 4 : 5 (over 20% between each) [172].

d: Why does ringing fewer bells need more effort?

Because the speed change hunting up or down is greater. See the answer above.

e: Why are some dodges more demanding than others ?

A dodge involves two changes of speed. For example when dodging in the middle of hunting up, there is a quick blow surrounded by slow blows. The quick blow occurs on one stroke and the slow ones either side of it on the other stroke. Because of the open leading the two strokes are rung at different speeds even in rounds. The speed difference caused by the dodge will either add on top of, or partly cancel out, this continual small speed change between handstroke and backstroke, depending on which way round the dodge is.

Write out a few rows (with the open lead included - see the diagram) including a dodge. Count the intervals between successive blows of one of the dodging bells. Now do it for the other one. You should see different speed changes. Remember that it takes more effort to make a bigger speed change. Now repeat the exercise for a bell dodging at the back. You should find that both change speed less on one side of the dodge.

f: Why is counting my place important?

Place awareness is important for method ringing. It means knowing where you are (and where you should be if they are different). If you don't know this, you won't know when you get to the back or the front and therefore have to change speed. Failure to change speed at the right time is one of the biggest problems that troubles many beginners. When you ring methods, you will also need to know where to dodge and make places. Initially the most reliable way to know what place you should be in is by counting.

g: Will I always have to count my places?

With experience you will find you do not need to recite the place numbers in your head. You will be able to 'see' which place you are in. This will let you keep other numbers in your head (like coursing orders).

In some methods you will find you know what places you are in because of the work you are doing. But even experienced ringers sometimes revert to counting places in methods like Grandsire Cinques, with long runs of hunting. When you are a long way from the back or the front, it is easy to mistake 6-7 for 8-9.

h: How do I know the order the bells come in?

There are two answers to this.

i: How do I know when to lead?

Even if someone has to rescue you, you can at least help yourself by trying to be somewhere near first place when rescued. Look for the first of the other ropes down and then ring near it.

j: What do I do if I can't see which rope to follow?

The bell you should be following may be badly out of place, or perhaps you just failed to spot it. In either case, just carry on as if you had passed an invisible rope and pick up the next one. Make sure you don't lose count. Bear in mind that sooner or later you may spot the missing rope, so be prepared. If it really was in the wrong place, you will meet an extra rope later, possibly with the attached ringer looking lost or correcting heavily to get back into place. Ignore it as you pass, since you have already allowed for it. If the bell was in the right place but you didn't see it, the ropes you continue to meet will all look normal as if there is nothing wrong. There isn't, so don't worry about it.

k: What can I do if someone else goes wrong?

Don't panic. Keep going relying on your speed and rhythm. This is harder than when you can't see who to follow, because there is always a strong urge to follow the bell you were expecting to follow. If you can see what has gone wrong, it will help you to compensate. Otherwise, try to take your bearings from the bells that seem to be OK. Don't let the mix up distract you from what you are doing. Don't lose count of where you are.

l: What pitfalls should I try to avoid?

There are many, but here are four common ones.

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