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Learning the Ropes

Ringing, particularly Method Ringing (i.e. the type of ringing practised at Plumtree Church), requires a combination of skills. Bell ringing technique is all about holding the rope correctly, moving with it and catching the rope at the right place and time.

Keeping the tail-end of the rope in one hand, stand with legs slightly apart and, with both hands on the sally (the fluffy part of the rope), stretch up as far as you can, keep the rope about 6 inches from your nose and pull straight downwards towards the floor. Transfer your free hand to the tail-end of the rope, allow your arms to be lifted to a full stretch by the weight of the bell and then pull straight downwards towards the floor. Catch the sally with both hands, and repeat.

Health and fitness - what will improve:

  • Step in Chime (Motor Skills) – Pulling a rope may look like hard work, but in actual fact it’s more about having a great rhythm. Improve your agility, co-ordination and reaction time by achieving the perfect rope pull.
  • The Perfect Tone (Body Sculpting) – The downwards rope-pulling action will improve your upper body strength whilst working biceps, quads and calves with minimal force.
  • Steeple Chase (Cardio) – Climb a steep, winding belfry staircase at your own pace for a full-body cardiovascular work-out. Ringing will increase your heart rate without over-exertion.
  • Tower of Strength (Muscle Endurance) – Bell ringing can be an endurance activity. During the Queen’s Jubilee some bell-ringers were ringing for over three hours.  Swinging up to half a ton of metal above your head will increase both strength and stamina.
  • Get Focused – Bell ringing is a skill that requires many months of dedicated practice to become an expert rope-puller. Hone your focus and concentration to remember the complex patterns and alternating rhythmic sounds.
  • Be Social – Meet new people of every age, from all walks of life. A great benefit of bell-ringing is the fantastic social aspect and opportunity to increase active living. Once you have learned the basic techniques you will always be made welcome when you visit other towers. There are more than 5,000 towers in this country suitable for change ringing (and, incidentally, fewer than 300 in the rest of the world).

The above article is based on a similar article produced by by The Churches Conservation Trust and YMCAfit; extracts from it can be found here.


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