The Gloucestershire Short Mat Bowling Association includes around 24 registered clubs and they (and their GSMBA registered members) are able to take part in the various County / National Championships and Leagues.
Membership of the GSMBA (and indirectly the English SMBA) brings many benefits such as bringing clubs into contact with each other, the organisation of Club Leagues, County / National Championships, Inter-county Leagues / Championships, possible financial support, reasonably priced insurance, etc, as well as being involved in the regulation / development of the game.
Clubs are generally open to new members. No experience of bowls (of any kind) is required as clubs are happy to give training. For novices, the clubs can provide all the equipment required to play the game of Short Mat Bowls with the exception of footwear. If you do not pocess suitable flat soled shoes then you may be permitted to wear thick socks or slippers for a few sessions - please check with the club what their policy is on this matter.
Historically, most Short Mat Clubs meet in village halls and their members tend to have little experience of bowls prior to joining - the reason for joining has often been more social than sporting. Three of the clubs, namely Bishop's Cleeve, Tewkesbury and Royal Forest of Dean, have reversed this trend as they are well established Lawn Green (Outdoor) Bowling Clubs. They have recognised the need to keep their membership together and involved with the game of bowls through the Winter months when their outdoor greens are closed. The Short Mat game can be played in their clubhouses and as the game encourages a sound delivery of a bowl it can benefit the outdoor game. Entering the GSMBA Winter Leagues also provides much match experience in a friendly (but competitive) environment. Some may see the two versions of bowls to be in competition with each other, however, those that fully understand both games realize that they complement each other well.