Course and after bells

Plain Hunt

Have you heard the expression “follow your course bell” and not had a clue what this bit of bell ringing wisdom meant or what to do with it? Like a lot of things in ringing, the concept of coursing order and course and after bells is quite simple to understand but it is routinely very poorly explained, if it is explained at all.


  • Coursing is a way of describing how bells follow each other around in a method. One way to think of it is the order in which bells arrive at the front and the back.
  • Your course bell is the bell that you course or follow down to the lead – so you might hear someone say “take your course bell off the lead.” The bell ahead of you when you arrive at the lead, or the back is your course bell.
  • Your after bell is the bell that follows you down to lead – hence the instruction “your after bell takes you off the back”. This is the bell behind you, which leads after you, or arrives at the back after you.


In Plain Hunt the bells come down to the lead in a certain order. In this example (on the right) we are showing Plain Hunt on five bells.

  • Your course bell is the bell you ring over before you lead.
  • You take it off the lead.
  • If you are ringing the 4 it is the 2.
  • Your after bell is the bell you ring over in 2nd place after leading.
  • It takes you off the lead.
  • If you are ringing the 4 it is the 5.

What about when you’re not ringing Plain Hunt?

Developing an awareness of course and after bells when ringing is helpful later on when progressing on to ringing methods. Your course bells are the same whichever method you are ringing. However when you meet them and what work you do with them varies with the method you are ringing. Your course and after bells will change when a bob or single is called.

Knowing which bells are your course and after bell helps you ring in the same way that knowing the work you do with the treble helps you ring:

  • If you know that you are doing a piece of work with one of these bells then you don’t have to worry so much about ropesight.
  • It gives reassurance – you’re in the right place.
  • If you’re not quite sure then knowing how you work with your course and after bell can help you get it right.

Supporting resource

A one page worksheet in which you can write out the grid for Plain Hunt Doubles and work out various course and after bells.

» Plain Hunt Worksheet

Coursing orders

Course and after bells are a sub-set of coursing order.

» Understanding coursing order