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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bowling ball and two pins
Bowling ball and two pins
Ten-pin bowling lane
Ten-pin bowling lane

Bowling is a game in which players attempt to score points by rolling a ball along a flat surface in an attempt to knock down objects called pins. There are many forms of bowling, with the earliest dating back to ancient Egypt. In the US the best known form of bowling is probably the North American game of ten-pin bowling. This form, in both amateur and professional versions, is played around the world, making it one of the largest participation activities worldwide.


Historians have discovered forms of bowling as early as 3200 BC in Egypt, though some argue that it originated later in Germany around 300 AD. The first written reference to bowling was in reference to King Edward III of England banning his troops from playing the game in the 14th century. European settlers brought forms of the game to the United States in the colonial era.

The first standardized rules were established in New York City, on September 9, 1895. In that year, the American Bowling Congress (ABC) was formed. The female equivalent, the Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC) was founded later, in 1917. Later, the Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) became the sanctioning body for junior bowling.

Originally, pinspotters manually set up pins. However, in 1952, the first automatic pinsetters were commercially produced, greatly speeding up the game and allowing its popularity to blossom.

Since bowling was an indoor sport without extreme movements, several early television shows featured bowling, including "Championship Bowling", "Make That Spare", "Bowling For Dollars", and "Celebrity Bowling".

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) was founded in 1958 by Eddie Elias. While the first season only featured three events, the tour blossomed, especially after joining the ABC's Saturday afternoon time slot in 1961. Through the years, professional bowling on ABC typically outdrew college basketball, even in its final days on the network in the late 1990s. The PBA continues to showcase the best bowlers in the world, with telecasts currently on ESPN.

In 2005, the ABC, WIBC, and YABA merged to form the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) to serve as the single sanctioning body for all American bowling.

The United Kingdom, the second largest ten-pin bowling advocate, is home to the British Tenpin Bowling Association (BTBA), which was formed on 26 May 1961. Although the PBA is a world-wide organization with many professional British ten-pin bowling players, the UK still has its version of the association with the Premier Tenpin Bowling Club (PTBC).

A bowler prepares to release his ball toward the pins during a sanctioned bowling match.
A bowler prepares to release his ball toward the pins during a sanctioned bowling match.


Most forms of bowling may be categorized as either indoor or outdoor. Most indoor forms are played on a "lane", a flat surface made of wood or a synthetic imitation, which is several times longer than it is wide.

Included in the indoor category:

  • Ten-pin bowling, which evolved from ninepin bowling in the 19th century.
  • Five-pin bowling, played in Canada.
  • Nine-pin skittles, played in Europe.
  • Candlepin bowling, played in eastern Canada and New England, is a variation of ten-pin bowling.
  • Cocked-Hat bowling, brought to the US from Germany. Now there is only one place to play this in the US; The Corner Bar in St. Charles, Missouri. It uses duckpin bowling balls and three regular sized pins.
  • Duckpin bowling, commonly found in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England United States and eastern Canada, is a variation of ten-pin bowling involving small, squat pins, sometimes with rubber at their widest points (rubber band duckpin bowling).
  • Feather Bowling (Belgian trough bowling) originated in Belgium. It is also popular in Detroit, as the Cadieux Cafe in Detroit and the "Bay City Bistro" in Mt. Clemens are the only United States venues where the game is available.
  • Six-Pin Bowling, a kids version of bowling, bowling set is usually bought at a toy store. There are no official tournaments, scoring systems, and venues for this game since it's just for kids.

9 pin bowling, identical to Ten-pin bowling, with two major exceptions: a bowler knocking over nine pins counts the same as a strike. A split without the head-pin counts as a spare.

  • 3-6-9 bowling, special form of ten-pin bowling where the 3rd 6th and 9th frame already have strikes in them.
  • Low-Ball Bowling, uses a standard ten-pin setup, but the object is to bowl the lowest score by aiming at only the seven or ten pins. Strikes and spares are scored identically as in ten-pin bowling, and gutter balls are scored as strikes. At least one pin must be knocked down per delivery, so a miss on the first ball must be recorded as a strike (only a gutter ball can result in this). If the second ball is thrown and it misses pins without going in the gutter, it's recorded as a spare. A perfect low-ball score is 20 (1 pin on each of 2 balls per frame).
"Xtreme bowling", "Disco Bowling", or "Cosmic bowling" is offered in many ten-pin bowling centers to present bowling as entertainment. It involves the use of blacklights, fluorescent pins and music to create a dazzling atmosphere.
"Xtreme bowling", "Disco Bowling", or "Cosmic bowling" is offered in many ten-pin bowling centers to present bowling as entertainment. It involves the use of blacklights, fluorescent pins and music to create a dazzling atmosphere.

For nearly a century, ten-pin bowling lanes had a surface made of wood. Beginning about 1980, most ten-pin lane surfaces have been converted to or built with a synthetic material imitating a wooden surface. In ten-pin bowling, a building containing many lanes has traditionally been called a bowling "alley." Some such buildings have recently called themselves "bowling centers" instead to avoid the negative connotation of alleys.

The second category of bowling is usually played outdoors on a lawn. Here the players throw a ball, which is sometimes eccentrically weighted, in an attempt to put it closest to a designated point.

Included in the outdoor category:

  • Lawn bowls
  • Bocce
  • Pétanque

See also

  • Bowling ball
  • Skittles — the sport from which "alley" based Bowling originated
  • Skee ball — a game that plays similar to bowling
  • Pin shooting — a pistol shooting game using bowling pins.
  • Professional Bowlers Association — ten-pin bowling's professional organization.
  • Premier Tenpin Bowling Club — another professional ten-pin bowling organization.

External links

  • The Foundation: A Non-Profit Organization Dedicated to Saving the Sport of Bowling
  • The Kegel - A historical game related to bowling
  • International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame
  • The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA)
  • The United States Bowling Congress (USBC)
  • Bowling Tips
  • Bowling Alley Directory
  • British Tenpin Bowling Association (BTBA)
  • The Scottish Tenpin Bowling Association (STBA)
  • Lets Bowl Bowling Alley Directory
  • history of the game
  • American Wheelchair Bowling Association
  • Additional Bowling Tips
  • Bowlinglinks all over the World, sorted by categories
  • The International Gay Bowling Organization (IGBO)
  • World Cup Bowling Academy
  • Bowling Community
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