As I was out at our local alley, I wondered, how much does a ten-pin weigh. Just like that, my curiosity about the bowling-pin was aroused. So I did my research and here is what I found out.
A ten-pin weighs between 3 lbs 6 oz (1.5 kg) to 3 lbs 10 oz (1.6 kg). These are the specifications set by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). The underlying idea was that the weight of a pin should be 24 percent of the weight of the heaviest regulation bowling ball. The heaviest regulation bowling ball weighs 16 lbs (7.3 kg).
Of course, the weight of different bowling balls varies. There is ten-pin bowling, nine-pin bowling—known as Kegel, five-pin bowling, candlepin bowling, and duckpin bowling. Each has its specifications and rules. I will briefly touch upon this towards the end of this article.
What are the Standard Dimensions of a Ten-pin Bowling Pin?
As mentioned earlier, ten-pin bowling pins can weigh between 3 lbs 6 oz to 3 lbs 10 oz. The accepted weight variation in pins is in the range of 2 oz to 4 oz. The pins are 15 inches tall and 4.75 inches at the widest point. The base diameter of the pin is 2 ¼ inches.
A ten-pin bowling ball can have a maximum weight of 16 lbs. The diameter of the ball can vary from 85 inches to 8.595 inches. There are other specifications laid down by the USBC, but they are too technical. A bowling ball usually has three holes to grip the ball: two holes for the index and middle finger and one for the thumb.
As an aside, ten-pin bowling pins have a crown, head, neck, belly, skirt, and core. The crown is the top of the pin. Just below that is the head. The thinnest part of the pin is the neck and the thickest part is the belly. The skirt is the portion below the belly and the core is at the base of the pin.
How are Ten-pin Bowling Pins Made?
Bowling pins are made by gluing blocks of rock maple wood to form the rough shape of the pin. This rough block is then turned on a lathe to get the basic shape of the bowling pin. Then the pin is covered with a hard plastic coating. Finally, the pins are painted and given a glossy finish.
Earlier the rock maple bowling pins were just covered in a layer of white lacquer and then with a coating of clear lacquer. However, the current bowling pins are now covered in seven layers of ethylcellulose for a stronger coating.
Due to the scarcity of wood, bowling pins can also be made with synthetic materials. However, wooden bowling pins are preferred. People prefer the sound of the bowling ball hitting wooden pins. They also say that the scoring and tipping point of wooden pins cannot be matched by any other material.
What Materials are Ten-Pin Bowling Balls Made Of?
Earlier bowling balls were made of hardwood. In 1905 rubber balls were introduced. This was followed by polyester or ‘plastic’ balls in 1959. These balls slowly replaced rubber balls by the 1970s.
In the early 1980s polyurethane or ‘urethane’ balls were introduced. This was followed by reactive resin or ‘reactive’ balls, which were prevalent in the early 1990s. Additives were introduced into urethane balls to increase tackiness.
Further development in the late 1990s saw the introduction of ‘particle enhanced’ balls to improve the performance of the ball.
What are the Lane Dimensions in a Bowling Alley?
A standard USBC regulation bowling alley is 60 feet in length from the foul line to the center of the headpin. For a pair of lanes, you need to have a width of 11 feet 6 inches.
The lanes are laid over a pit which is used for the ball return. The lanes have a gutter on either side. If your ball slips into the gutter you do not score.
Bowling alley lanes can be made of wood or synthetic materials. The wooden lanes are made of a combination of maple and pine. The approach area, the first 12 feet of the lane and the pin deck are made of the harder maple to withstand the heavy ball thumping on it. The remaining length of the lane is made of softer pine.
However, wooden lanes in a bowling alley are difficult to maintain and they wear down over time and continued use.
Currently, bowling alley lanes are made of synthetic materials. These materials are much harder than wood and are easier to maintain. They also enhance the scoring chances in the game.
What are the Bowling Variations
Bowling balls have different variations. They include:
- 10-pin bowling-
When we talk of bowling we are normally talking of ten-pin bowling. In ten-pin bowling, two players compete against each other over 10 ‘frames’. In each frame, a player gets 2 attempts to knock down the ten pins.
Also known as Kegel, this is more of a team game and is appreciated by Germans. In this game, nine pins are placed in a diamond formation, with the center pin in a different color. The idea is to avoid dropping the center pin.
- Five-pin bowling
This bowling is popular in Canada. Here there are five pins placed in a V formation. The idea is to drop the pin in the center for 5 points and also to drop all the other pins. The ball is smaller and so are the pins. The pins have a band of rubber on the belly to enhance bouncing when a pin falls so that it causes other INS to fall.
- In candlepin bowling
The pins in this bowling look a bit like candles or cigars. The ball is smaller. In candlepin bowling, there are ten frames with 3 attempts per frame.
- Duckpin bowling
This is like a combination of ten-pin and candlepin bowling. The pins are smaller than ten-pins and so is the ball. But, like candlepin bowling, there are ten frames with 3 attempts per frame.