Alan Martin had teased perfection. But, in almost 30 years of 10-pin bowling, he had never delivered 12 strikes in a row.
That changed a couple weeks ago when he threw a perfect game at Strike Zone, the city's 10-pin bowling alley.
Martin, 64, scored a perfect 300 during play in the Wednesday Morning Coffee League. Plenty of other people witnessed his accomplishment, which is one of the rarest feats in all of sports.
"It was a madhouse," said Martin, a Prince George resident since 1971. "I was watching the lane so I didn't see too much but everybody was just plain excited."
Martin's perfect game was also the first in the 18-year history of Strike Zone.
"We have had a couple in open play by one of our staff members but they didn't count because he was just throwing a fun game and was sort of by himself," said Strike Zone owner Peter Minck.
"[A perfect game] is a big deal in open play as well but certainly not as much as league play because there are four-man teams and you're bowling together and you sit down for quite a while waiting for your turn. That makes it a little more nerve-wracking."
Minck compared a perfect game to a hole-in-one in golf.
"I don't think there's probably anything tougher," he said. "There are a lot of people who have gotten them but it takes nerves of steel and stuff like that."
In 10-pin bowling, players can throw a maximum of three balls in the 10th frame. If they have rolled strikes in the first nine frames, that adds up to 12 balls in total.
Earlier in life, Martin twice had 11 strikes but couldn't get all the pins to fall on his final shot.
This time, he knew he was off to a good start after the first three frames. When he was still perfect through seven frames, he was starting to consider the possibilities. In the 10th, he reminded himself to keep following his routine and opened with a strike. On his 11th ball, he hit the pocket a shade high and was left in agony for a moment.
"The nine-pin was kind of slow in falling and the five-pin spun and knocked it over and everybody cheered when they saw that," Martin said. "That was the only one that was at all in doubt and I decided, 'I'm not going to be a tad high on the next one,' and the next one went in just perfect. So they were all good hits. I really didn't [need] a lot of luck in the game but you still need luck to carry a 10-pin. Three frames later, in my second game, I threw a perfect ball and the 10-pin stood up like nobody's business."
Martin's average is in the 216 range. He was thrilled, of course, to roll the 300.
"That's one less thing on my bucket list," he said with a laugh. "I've been trying for that for years. It felt pretty good. I've been getting congratulations all over the place so it's pretty unique."
In 10-pin, a consistent delivery is the key to scoring well.
"You have to read the lane, you have to have a consistent [arm] swing," Martin said. "Everything you need in golf, you need in 10-pin bowling and you have to throw it with your body, not your arm."
Martin grew up in Sooke, on the outskirts of Victoria. He bowled from ages 13 to 20 and took a 23-year break after he moved to Prince George because, during that time, only five-pin bowling was available here. When Strike Zone opened in 1994, he was one of the first bowlers who walked through the doors.
"It took me two-and-a-half years to get back up to my junior average," he said with a grin. "And by that time they had invented all these new finger grips and reactive resin balls. I still have my old 1963 Dick Weber compound rubber one -- good on wooden lanes but terrible on artificial lanes, which is what most of the surfaces are now."