You can use the different sets of markings on the bowling lanes for lining up and making adjustments to each of your shots. Below is an image of a bowling lane showing the approach markings, targeting dots and targeting arrows.
The targeting arrows are five boards apart and there are 39 boards across the width of the lane. When talking about these boards bowlers will call them by their board number. They are numbered from right to left starting with the one closest to the gutter. That board is the one board and counting across to the left the last board is the 39 board, it is the reverse order if you are a left-handed bowler.
Bowling lane dimensions
The bowling lane specifications are useful in some advanced bowling strategies.
- bowling lane length from foul line to headpin is about 60 feet
- bowling lane width is between 41 and 42 inches
- approach length is about 15 feet
- number of boards across the width of the lane is usually 39
- width of boards is slightly over 1 inch each
- 7 targeting arrows are about 14 feet past foul line
- 10 targeting dots or dowels are about 7 feet past foul line
- 7 dots or dowels for stance alignment are about 11 1/2 feet and 14 1/2 feet from the foul line
The bowling lane almost always has lane oil on top of it to protect it from the friction of bowling balls rolling on it. This oil is usually applied with a machine in an oil pattern which creates the opportunity to “play” the lane with bowling tactics. The lanes are usually cleaned and re-oiled with the same machine once a day or more. Lanes do not have wax on them like many people think.
The bowling lane has many markings that can help a bowler when using bowling tactics. Some lanes have markers at the breakpoint of a hooking bowling ball about 40 feet past the foul line. These can help an advanced bowler understand their ball reaction better and sometimes they are used for targeting.
A bowling lane also has a lane topography which can impact a bowling ball reaction to the lane. While lanes do have a topography that will impact ball reaction it is nearly impossible to know what that impact will be ahead of time unless you have taken notes on the lanes or have some other source of inside information.
Another fact about bowling lanes is that the kickbacks and flat gutter depth at the side of the pin deck will impact the amount of pin action you create with your shot. Usually, this only differs from bowling center to bowling center.
Lanes are made of either wood or synthetic material. The older lanes were made of maple and pine woods and new bowling lanes are usually made out of a synthetic material that looks like wood. Different kinds of lane materials can impact how you choose to play the lanes once you have learned how to hook the ball.
Bowling pin dimensions
At least one bowling pin specification impacts the overall scoring environment. Heavier weighted pins usually cause the scoring to be lower.
- bowling pin weight is between 3 lbs 6 oz to 3 lbs 10 oz
- bowling pin height is about 15 inches
- bowling pin at the widest part or belly is about 4 3/4 inches
- bowling pin base diameter is about 2 inches
- bowling pin neck diameter at narrowest part is about 1.8 inches
- bowling pin neck height is about 10 inches
Although it doesn’t look like it from the approach, the ten pins at the end of the lane are arranged in a perfect triangle with equal sides. This pin layout also includes a pin that sits right in the center of the triangle. The smallest distance between any two pins is 12 inches. The pins have a diameter of about 4 3/4 at the widest part or belly of the pin. The bowling ball diameter is about 8.5 inches, so the ball will not fit between the two closest pins on the same row. When you throw a good shot, you can hit both pins with the ball when shooting between them.
The bowling pin numbers and what bowlers call the different pin placements from 1 to 10 are named from left to right as the rows of pins get farther from you. The first row has one pin and is called the headpin or one pin. Row two includes two pins called the two and three pins. In row three is the four, five and six pins. The back row of pins includes the seven, eight, nine and ten pins. Knowing this pin formation and calling pins by their numbers is the best way to relate to other bowlers about what is going on with your bowling.
Pins are usually made of hard maple wood, and coated with multiple layers of plastic coating. Twister bowling pins are all synthetic.
Bowling lane and pin resources
USBC specifications manual
The USBC is the governing body of the sport of bowling. They create the guidelines for the sport. They make the bowling rules and determine the specifications for bowling balls, bowling pins, bowling lanes and everything else about to how the sport of bowling is played.
Brunswick bowling pins
Brunswick makes a few different kinds of bowling pins including glow in the dark pins and pins for trophies. They are one of the biggest pin manufacturers and have been making pins for many decades.
AMF bowling pins
AMF or previously American Machine and Foundry is another bowling pin manufacturer making bowling pins. They make a couple of different kinds of bowling pins including a premium version made of white maple wood.
Twister bowling pins
Twister pins are manufactured by a company in Germany. They are the only fully synthetic bowling pin and say that they last longer.