Bowling Trivia

Making a Bowling Pin

This bowling trivia page outlines many of the basic steps that are involved in the manufacturing process of the typical modern day bowling pin. The basic wooden material building pieces, the lamination processes, the cutting, shaping, molding and finishing steps are all shown here in detail. Pins are made of Hard Rock Maple wood, Brunswick claims that they do not use wood that has been grown south of Indiana. This
is because of the winters, trees that are subjected to winter do not grow as fast as the trees that can grow all year long. The trees that have to shut down in the winter seem to be denser (it also takes twice as long to grow) and this makes the wood harder.
These two basic shapes of wood are the building blocks of the modern bowling pin. Using several of the larger pieces the center or core of the bowling pin is created. From the smaller piece and several laminations the bowling pin derives is girth, that unique hourglass bowling
pin shape
Here you see the larger piece of wood laying on it’s side laminated three layers thick. The formation of the pin’s core has begun and the process of thickening this basic product will continue until an entire pin can be cut from the formed wood.
The smaller pieces of wood stock are then laminated together to form a larger piece of stock that will then be milled to the correct thickness and the edges will be trimmed straight. This final piece will then be cut into four separate pieces that will be bonded to the pin core.
The previous piece of material is cut once length wise and once cross wise to form the four pieces that are shown here. These pieces will now be bonded to the core piece in two steps.
Here we see the two smaller pieces have been bonded to the side of the core piece. This is the beginning of the thickening process that will enable a bowling pin to be cut from the stock of laminated wood. The holes are for adjusting the weight of the pin.
The pin has now had all four of the body building pieces bonded to it. The wood now has enough material on it that the unique bowling pin shape can be cut from this piece of laminated stock.
The laminated piece of stock is then inserted into a lathe with a large blade in the shape of the bowling pin. The knife blade is pressed into the rotating piece of wood stock and the entire bowling pin is cut in one pass by the shaping knife blade.
The wooden pin blank is put into an injection molding machine that encases the wood with the plastic material. This material protects the wood of the pin and gives a surface for the manufacturers logos and decorations to be placed on.
Once the pin has been molded all of the flashing and injection points are removed from the pin. From here the pin will go into the finish preparation process where all surface irregularities and any left over flashing will be removed from the “almost” bowling pin.
Here we see the pin after it has been sanded. This process removes all of the surface imperfections. The process will also remove any of the remaining flashing from the molding process. From here this point the pin will be ready to receive all of the finishing touches.
The pin gets the wooden bottom cut off and the plastic bottom piece is bonded to the pin. Logo’s and decorations are added by the manufacturer and the glossy finish is added. The product is then inspected and finally packaged and shipped to distributors.

Description of the game

What is Bowling (or ten pins)

Bowling, sometimes called tenpins, is an indoor game played on a polished wooden or synthetic floor by individuals or teams. Bowling is most popular in the US where more than 80 million people actively participate.

In the US game contestants roll balls, which have two or, commonly, three finger holes for gripping, toward ten 15-in. wooden pins. The pins are arranged in triangular formation, with the headpin 60 ft. from a foul line. The balls, made of a variety of materials are 8.5-in. in diameter and must not weigh more than 16 lb. The bowler, who rolls the ball underhand, has a runway at least 15 ft. long from which the ball may be released.

A bowling game is divided into 10 frames: the object of the game is to knock down all of the pins on the first or, if necessary, the second of the 2 rolls allowed in each frame. Each pin that is knocked down counts as 1 point. Knocking down all the pins with the first ball is called a strike and is scored as 10 points plus a bonus determined by the total points gained in the next 2 rolls. If a bowler should continue to roll only strikes throughout the game (a total of 12 attempts, because 2 bonus tries are allowed in the tenth frame), the result would be a rare prefect game 300. If 2 deliveries are needed to knock down all of the pins in a frame, the outcome is called a spare. A bowler is then awarded points plus a bonus of the score on the next roll. If a spare is made in the final frame, one extra roll is allowed and that is added to the score.

Objects used for a game similar to bowling, which date from 5200 BC, were found in the tomb of a young Egyptian boy. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, bowling in Europe was a religious ceremony, participants tried to hit the pin, or kegel (hence the word kegling for bowling) in order to be judged free of sin. The Italian version of bowling, Bocce, which is still played today, is somewhat similar to “Lawn Bowling”, an English game originating over 800 years ago. In Europe, it was played with 9 pins. Dutch colonists brought bowling to America in the 17th century. The game consisted of 9 pins set in a triangle. It was regularly played in an area of New York City still known as “Bowling Green”. The tenth pin was added according to popular legend, to circumvent a ruling in the 1840’s by the Connecticut Legislature, which outlawed nine-pins because of widespread gambling in the game. Bowling was an outdoor game for most of its history; indoor bowling became popular in the mid-19th century.


The American Bowling Congress (ABC), founded in 1895, is the governing body for tenpins. The ABC standardized rules and the scoring method, and it also organized the fast U.S. national bowling tournament, in 1901. Each year the ABC sponsors nationals in singles, doubles and five-man team competition for its members, whose numbers exceeds 5 million. The Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC) was founded in 1916 and has grown to 3.5 million members. The Professional Bowlers Association was organized in 1958 to promote exhibition and arrange major tournaments. Interest in bowling, particularly in the United Slates, had its major spurt after World War II.

The introduction of the first automatic pinsetter in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1952 was responsible for much of this growing popularity. Previously, pins were set by young boys, and Bowling Alleys, as the establishments were called, often had poor reputations. The modern game, however, promoted in part by competition on television, is a booming family sport. There is virtually no age limit for the active bowler.

Discount bowling products

Have you noticed all of the bowling discount websites that you find on the internet today? We have seen so many bowling websites that are offering discount bowling products to the public that you could throw a gutter ball. When you first look at them you get the impression that you really have a lot of options to choose from when looking for bowling products.

Annoying website design

As shoppers we were a bit put off by several website annoyances that made shopping for discount bowling products frustrating. The typical bowling product website throws a confusing page at you with over a hundred links on the page hoping that you can figure out what to click on to find what you’re looking for (looks to us like if you can’t dazzle ’em, then baffle ’em). Then there is the bowling product website that thinks someone out there likes pop-ups, the consensus among website visitors today is that pop-ups are rude (just note the proliferation of pop-up blocker software), the bowling product website is being rude to you (their customer). These were website design annoyances that you could grudgingly be willing to deal with, but then as we checked more closely we noticed things that really stood out as being almost deceptive in practice, the MSRP scam, the shipping scam, and the hidden charges scam.

The MSRP scam

The MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) scam surfaced as we were checking out different discount bowling product websites and noticed that they were claiming a different “retail price” for the exact same item. How is this possible that the exact same item has so many different retail prices? Here’s the scam, a ball on one website has a 10% discount and the same ball on another website has a 15% discount, the website with the 15% discount is offering you a better deal right? Not necessarily! When their discount percentage is not what they perceive is big enough to make you buy, they just jack up the “retail price” and viola instantly you have a bigger discount percentage. You just think that you are getting a better deal with this borderline practice. The Bowling discounter gets away with this because the truth is that (almost) NO bowling products have a list price (we checked when we discovered the scam)! This selling game we call the MSRP scam.

The shipping scam

The shipping scam was discovered while investigating discount bowling product websites and noticed that it was very difficult to figure out what it was really going to cost for that bowling product. You see a very attractive price on a product and are lead to believe this is what you will pay. The truth is that the real price of a product is what your credit card is actually billed (including shipping and hidden charges, see below), not the low item price with the big discount percentage (see above). You think that you are getting some absurdly discounted price on an item and when it comes time to check out there is a nasty surprise lurking in the form of a shipping charge. Bowling discounters justify this by having a teeny tiny link on a page somewhere that tries to explain what the shipping charges are. Some bowling product discounters list a flat price for the product that you are purchasing (much easier for the shopper), but some have this strange table of locations and numbers and you have to try to add the weight of the item, where you are shipping to and guess at what they will be tacking on for the surprise shipping fee (Wouldn’t it be nice if a discount bowling products website had the guts to tell the truth, when a price is listed, that’s the real price, period.). The price listed on the website is rather deceptive, the real price is what you actually get charged. This selling game we call the shipping scam.

The Hidden charges scam

The hidden charges scam was discovered after we thought we had actually found honest bowling discounters. The bowling product pricing was attractive, the shipping appeared to be included, we cheered that we had finally found honesty. The party ended rather abruptly when we checked very closely and found this mysterious handling or order charge. It was justified by stating that “other websites do it, and so do we”, one vendor was so bold as to publish a lie about how another major website does the exact same thing. This is supposed to make the customer feel better about this sneaky, deceptive tactic. We also found other mysterious charges on some bowling product websites, like drilling insurance for example. The implication is that if a driller makes a mistake you are out of luck, not true. This is like saying that if the guy who works on my car breaks the windshield he (she) is not responsible, baloney. Don’t ever patronize a dishonest driller that tries to pull that on you. Drilling insurance also stated that if the ball was defective and broke while drilling that you were out of luck, not true. Ball manufacturers warrant their products against defects. This selling game we call the hidden charges scam.

With so much deception amongst bowling product websites is there any hope. Certainly, now that you know about some of the practices these less than up front websites are up to you can be prepared and know what to look for. We also would like to invite you to compare bowling2u’s HONEST PRICING model where the price listed is the price that you pay, period! We don’t use the MSRP scam, shipping scam, or the hidden charges scam, and would like you to consider us as your preferred bowling products vendor. Most importantly, Bowling2u wants to empower our website visitors with knowledge and what to look for in a website offering discount bowling products.

History of the game

History of Bowling

The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame has replicas of artifacts for a game similar to bowling which were found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian youth who died approximately 5,200 BC. Ancient Polynesians rolled stones at objects from a distance of 60 feet (18.29 meters) – the same distance as from foul line to headpin.

During the 3d and 4th centuries, bowling was a religious ceremony for determining absence of sin. German parishioners had to roll or throw an object at a pin or kegel (derivation of the word kegler for bowler) to avoid performing an act of penance.

The earliest known legislation against bowling dates to 14th Century England. The sport had become so popular that people were neglecting the archery practice necessary for national defense during the 100 Year War (a misnomer, since it actually lasted from 1337 to 1453). Both King Edward III who reigned from 1327-1377 and King Richard II (1377-1399) banned the game. From Europe to America, bowling has been banned throughout the world for the “evil it leashes on society.”

A life size diorama at The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame portrays Martin Luther bowling on the single lane at the side of his home. A brochure from the Museum states that Luther, an avid bowler, “once preached a sermon which, if put into bowling vernacular, proclaimed we all strive for perfection in life. But if we roll a gutterball, all is not lost.”

Dutch Colonists brought bowling to America in the 17th century. The game consisted of nine pins set in a triangle. It was regularly played in an area of New York City still known as “Bowling Green”.

In 1841, Connecticut banned “bowling at the game of ninepins” because of widespread gambling. Other states followed suit. It is popularly believed that today’s game of tenpins was devised to circumvent the laws against the game of ninepins. An outdoor game for most of its history, indoor bowling became popular in the mid-nineteenth century after the introduction of indoor lanes in New York in 1840.


  • 1875 – Eleven New York area clubs meet to create rules and some standardization of equipment. No significant impact since no agreement could be reached on the width of the lane or size of the pin.
  • 1892 – Women were known to be active participants and even bowled in a separate event at the 1907 ABC tournament.
  • 1895 – American Bowling Congress organized at Beethoven Hall in New York City. Maximum score established at 300. Previously, it was 20 balls with a top score of 200. Distance between pins was set at 12 inches. The original organizers represented New York City, Brooklyn, N.Y. and Buffalo, N.Y. The following year Cincinnati, Boston and Lowell, Mass. were represented and letters of interest were received from Chicago, St. Louis, Wheeling, W. Va., Kansas City, Mo. and Quebec, Canada.
  • 1900 -1910 – ABC’s relevance and credibility were tested often in a power struggle between the east (New York) and west (Chicago). Among other issues, New York, accustomed to infrequent competition wanted dues to be $1 per league. Chicago, which had regular league sessions favored $1 per team.
  • 1902 – Ernest Fosberg of Rockford, Ill. becomes first to roll ABC-approved 300 in five-man league play.
  • 1903 – E. D. Peifer of Chicago inaugurates a handicap method for bowling. Previously, all competition was on a “scratch” (actual score) basis.
  • 1905 – First hard rubber ball developed; maximum ball weight set at 16 pounds. Previously all balls were made of “lignum vitae”, a hardwood.
  • 1906 – Brunswick-Balke-Collender opens factory to make wooden bowling balls.
  • 1906 – The east seceded from ABC and organized its own group. Fourteen years later, they returned to the flock.
  • 1906 – ABC refuses to allow women to be members.
  • 1916 – The WIBC founded.
  • 1916 – ABC amends its constitution, limiting its membership to white males only.
  • 1920 – Prohibition law leads to increase in bowling as proprietors discover that patrons want to bowl, even if they can’t drink.
  • 1922 – Alley owners and employees placed in separate membership class. In 1929 the “class”; was expanded to include those with financial interests, instructors or those who received pay for services. The possibility these people could improve with free practice was the crux of the rule. It was voted out in 1948.
  • 1928 – Rule requiring alleys to eject gambling types adopted and bowlers warned that any involvement would result in expulsion. In 1976, the rule was virtually eliminated since casino properties in Las Vegas and Reno could not even sponsor teams.
  • 1930 – Jenny Kelleher, Madison, Wisc. rolls first WIBC-approved perfect game.
  • 1939 – Rule requiring annual inspection and certification of lanes is adopted.
  • 1939 – National Negro Bowling Assoc. founded (subsequently changed to The National Bowling Association, Inc.
  • 1941 – ABC Hall of Fame instituted. (Only baseball and golf have older Halls of Fame.)
  • 1941 -1945 World War II significantly impacts bowling. The military built 4,500 alley beds on bases as a major source of recreation. It was the first exposure to bowling for countless servicemen and women.
  • 1948 – Brunswick introduces dots and arrow markers to their lanes, dramatically improving accuracy for most bowlers.
  • 1950 – After a bitter fight with activists from the labor and religious areas which lasted several years, ABC removes “white only”from its constitution.
  • 1958 – The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) was founded by Eddie Elias, an Akron attorney and television sports interviewer. There were 33 charter members.
  • 1959 – The Professional Women Bowler’s Association becomes the first organization for professional women bowlers. It is no longer operating.
  • 1962 – American Wheelchair Bowling Association formed.
  • 1978 – J. Elmer Reed, a pioneer of the National Negro Bowling Association, becomes first black inducted into the ABC Hall of Fame.
  • 1981 – Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour formed.
  • 1982 – Young American Bowling Alliance formed through merger of the American Junior Bowling Congress, Youth Bowling Assn. and the ABC/WIBC collegiate divisions.
  • 1993 – ABC removes “male only” from its constitution pursuant to threats from women activists.

Scoring the game

Scoring Bowling

How to Keep Score

Score keeping in bowling is as simple as adding up the number of pins that you knock down. As each player takes a turn they try to knock down all ten of the pins. Each player is given up to two opportunities to do this. The player will roll their bowling ball (find a bowling ball) down the bowling alley towards the pins in an attempt to knock pins over. The pins that are knocked down on this first attempt are counted and recorded. The pinsetter at the bowling alley will remove the pins still standing, clear the leveled pins, then return the standing pins back in place. The bowlers ball is returned and the bowler gets a second attempt at knocking the pins over. The bowler again rolls their ball down the alley to try and knock any remaining pins down. The number of pins knocked down on this second attempt is then recorded. The bowlers score is then the pins from the first roll, plus the pins from the second roll, then added to any previous score.

Basic Score Keeping

In score keeping a game of bowling each set of ten pins is called a frame and an entire game has ten frames. The object of each frame in bowling is to knock over all ten pins, and the object of the game is to have a high score.

In this first example (frame 1) when John rolled his first ball he knocked down 6 pins, on the second ball he knocked down 2 pins and his total score is 8 (6 plus 2).
In this second example (frame 2) when John rolled his first ball he knocked down 7 pins, on the second ball he knocked down 1 pins and his total score is 16 (7 plus 1 plus 8 from frame 1).

Bonus Scoring

When a bowler accomplishes the the goal of each frame by knocking over all ten pins they are awarded a bonus. This bonus that is awarded will depend on whether they knocked all ten pins down on their first ball roll or the second roll.

The Strike

When a bowler knocks all ten pins down on the first ball roll they are said to have rolled a strike. The score keeper will mark an X for that frame and the bowlers score is the ten pins that they just knocked down plus they get to add to that what they knock down on their next two ball rolls. Consequently, you may not know what a bowlers score is on that frame for up to two more frames!

In this third example (frame 3) when John rolled his first ball he knocked down all ten pins. His score is marked by placing an X in the first ball square. We still don’t know what John’s score for frame 3 is until he rolls his next two balls.
In this fourth example (frame 4) when John rolled his first ball he knocked down 9 pins, on the second ball he knocked down 0 (note the dash). We can now go back and score frame three at 35 (16 from frame 2 plus ten from frame 3 plus 9 from the first ball and zero from the second ball). We can also score frame 4 at 44 (35 from frame 3 plus 9 on the first ball and 0 on the second ball) since no bonus scoring was earned in frame 4.

The Spare

When a bowler knocks all ten pins down on the second ball roll they are said to have rolled a spare. The score keeper will mark a / for that frame and the bowlers score is the ten pins that they just knocked down plus they get to add to that what they knock down on their next ball roll. Consequently, you will not know what the bowers score is until the next frame!

In this fifth example (frame 5) when John rolled his first ball he knocked down 8 pins, on the second ball he knocked down the remaining 2 pins. His score is marked by placing an 8 (for the first ball) and a single slash (for the second ball) indicating the John scored a spare in frame 5. We still don’t know what John’s score for frame 5 is until he rolls his next ball.
In this sixth example (frame 6) when John rolled his first ball he knocked down all ten pins (a strike). We can now go back and score frame five at 64 (44 from frame 4 plus ten from frame 5 plus 10 from the next ball thrown. We still don’t know what John’s score for frame 6 is until he rolls his next two balls.

Scores continue to accumulate as each bowler takes turns (frames) until all ten frames have been played by each bowler. If a bowler should get a strike or a spare in the 10th frame, the bowlers scoring continues as the bowler throws their bonus shots. The bowler who throws a strike in the tenth frame must roll two additional balls to complete the score for the tenth frame. The bowler who throws a spare in the tenth frame frame must roll one additional ball to complete the score for the tenth frame.

In bowling a perfect game will score “300” pins, you roll ten strikes, one for each frame, and then two bonus shots at the end are also strikes.

Ball Drilling Placement

Where are the holes drilled?

Pin Placement, Center of Gravity, and the weight block

When a bowling ball is built, the core of the ball is anchored by a small rod and is suspended in a mold when the cover stock is poured into the mold. When the cover stock material hardens and the bowling ball is removed from the mold, the rod that was holding the core of the ball in the mold is removed. At this point there is a hole in the ball that has to be filled in, it is filled with plug material. This plug looks like a dot on the surface of the bowling ball is known as the “pin”. The pin signifies the position of the top of the core in the bowling ball.

As the cores of the modern-day resin urethane balls became so strong, and as our understanding of the core’s influence on the motion of the ball advanced, it became important for bowling ball manufacturers to color the plug so we could see what we were dealing with. Today there is no high-performance bowling ball that doesn’t identify where the core is and how far it is from the center of gravity. The center of gravity is marked by a small punch mark on the surface of the bowling ball. The position of the center of gravity relative to the pin location determines how a ball is drilled for the reaction that the bowler is trying to get. Because of today’s high tech bowling balls and specially designed weight blocks, the ball driller needs to know where the core is located in the bowling ball.

Very few high-performance bowling ball labels are located near the pin and the center of gravity. They are all located away from the drilling area, so the ball driller can clearly see the center of gravity and the pin. Only the plastic balls and the lower-priced resin and urethanes still put the label over the center of gravity. Only the plastic and urethane balls with a pancake-style weight block still cover this area. Most of the companies build their cheap balls with no regard to where the pin is, and they color-coordinate the plug to the ball. But they still mark where the center of gravity is by putting the label above it.

The professional bowler will pick out preferred drillings based on what is felt will work for them. It takes knowledge of the bowling ball’s construction. This also requires of how the core and cover stock influence each other and axis coordinates to help decide the drillings.

When you have bowlers with equal talent that are bowling equally well, the player with the better ball reaction will win. The professional bowler looks at the lane condition and the type of ball reaction they’re getting. If they’re not getting a good reaction they start thinking about what piece of equipment and drilling configuration will help them get the reaction they need to help maximize their performance.

What the professional bowlers will look for is the right type of ball movement for the condition they’re playing on. If you’re bowling right after the lanes are stripped and oiled, you will have a lot of front-end skid and strong back ends, the ball will automatically slide down the lane and finish hard without a lot of effort from the bowling ball or the bowler. On this condition, you need to have the ball set up to have a controlled movement. You don’t need a “skid long, flip hard” type of drilling and surface.

However, late in the day after a lot of bowling, the heads will be hooking early and the back ends will be tight because of lane oil carrydown. The shot will have moved deep, so you’ll need a ball that goes long and finishes hard. During any day you may encounter many different ball reactions between those two extremes.

The bowling ball companies maintain staffs of players on both pro tours, and they also have ball reps out on the tour with the players. The bowling ball rep’s will watch the ball reaction as bowlers use his company’s balls; when a player requests assistance from the ball rep, he will watch the player to make some recommendations about equipment to use. The ball rep will act as a consultant and sometimes as a coach.

In order to fully understand what’s going on, even the pros who bowl every day need a set of knowledgeable eyes watching their execution and how the ball is reacting to the condition, sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether you’re throwing the ball properly or not. With the combination of lane conditions and everyone’s individual game, it can get very confusing selecting the right ball and proper drilling.

Bowling Pin Types

The Winsom pin. This is a Asian made Brunswick pin. It was cheaper for them to ship Canadian Rock Maple to Asia and have them shipped back than to use US labor. This pin is the prototype for the Killer “B” pin. The Brunswick “Max”. This is the current pin with the trademarked crown logo. The AMF Sumo pin. This is a novelty pin based on the very popular Sumo bowling ball.

A rare AMF pin, violated Brunswick’s crown logo trademark and was discontinued. The Brunswick “Flyer”. This is one of Brunswick’s first injection molded pins. Injection molding made the coating thicker than the original dipping process. The Brunswick mixer. This pin was the last in the series of plastic dipped pins for Brunswick.

The Vulcan Vultex II. Vulcan was a competitor to both AMF and Brunswick. It is a surlyn coated injection molded pin. Vulcan was eventually bought by Brunswick. The Brunswick “B” Max. This is an early version of the Brunswick “Max” pin.. The Brunswick Killer “B”.

The Brunswick PBA gold pin. This 3lb 10oz pin is heavier than the normal pin. The pin pictured here has the “colored” PBA logo and can only be used in PBA tournament play. A similar pin with the black logo can be used in regular scratch and league play. The Brunswick WWF “The Rock” pin. The Brunswick PBA gold pin an souvenir autograph pin.

The candle pin.