Identifying the places my bells are in

This was clearly a major element of my barrier and needed work.  In my early days of tower bell ringing, like most, I would count my places, but this skill has long since retired. If I try to do it now, I very quickly lose concentration and forget. Instead, I can just “see” my place by observing how many bells are above or below me.  My hearing of lead ends is almost Pavlovian, actions being triggered by hearing the treble. 

I first determined to learn how to see/hear and respond to the half lead as well as the lead end when ringing in hand.  Reverse Bob Minor seemed a good choice for looking at half leads, but plain hunting through the lead ends was counter-intuitive.  Double Bob was better. It only contains 4 different place notations (X, 12, 16, 56) - just 56 being new – and the tendency to ring Plain Bob lead ends is not a problem!

By the time the treble has reached the half lead, it’s too late to react so I needed to spot the treble approaching the half lead & prepare my reaction to it, but how?  I could:

  • Watch the treble all the time (AND both of my bells – don’t be daft!)
  • Count changes? There are not that many in half a lead. The treble rings its handstroke at lead, then there are just two intermediate handstrokes (2nds, 4ths) before it's at the back. 

Neither of these came easily, but with practice the fog lightened here and there; I started to have awareness of the treble nearing the back.  Sometimes it’d be in 4-5, sometimes it’d already be there.  If ringing with others, a cry of “half-lead” from the conductor became a helpful feature.


Watching the treble is the answer, I feel. Definitely not counting changes. Counting up to three is just about manageable, so you might get away with counting whole pulls up to the half lead in plain minor. But counting is always to be avoided as much as possible when ringing or conducting, except counting your place of course. Ideally counting your place becomes externalised as the rhythm of the bells counts for you, and you just need to be aware of where your bells appear in the row. This is more difficult as the number of bells increases and is a large part of the difficulty of moving to higher numbers.