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How Much Do Bowling Pins Weigh?

how much do bowling pins weigh

It is obvious that the weight of the bowling ball matters a lot. If it is too heavy, you can’t properly release it down the lane. On the other hand, it may go flying if it weighs too little, hurting your accuracy and control of the ball.

One thing that many newbies seem to forget about is the weight of the bowling pin. The weight of the bowling pin is actually really important because it can affect how easily the pins are knocked over. The standard weight of a bowling pin is 3 pounds and 6 ounces.

However, you can find bowling pins of other sizes and weights as well, though the weight won’t differ much.

In this article, we’re going to look at all things bowling pins. We begin by looking at regulation sizes and weights, but we go on to look at the material it’s made from, cost, and more. Without further ado, let’s look at bowling pins.

How Much Does a Regulation Bowling Pin Weigh?

The regulation bowling pin’s weight and size is set by the United States Bowling Congress. The specifications set by the United States Bowling Congress have been accepted by World Bowling, which is formerly known as the World Ten Pin Bowling Association.

A regulation bowling pin weighs 3 pounds and 6 ounces, which also happens to be the minimum weight of a bowling pin.

This has been the standard weight for some time, and it isn’t changing any time soon. Even though there are different styles and types of bowling pins, they will almost always be of this weight.

What Is the Minimum Weight of a Pin?

There is a slight wiggle room in the weight of a bowling pin, but not much. The minimum weight of a bowling pin is 3 pounds and 6 ounces. Just for reference, that means that the standard regulation bowling pin is at the minimum weight.

What Is the Maximum Weight of a Pin?

On the other end of the spectrum, the heaviest bowling pin can weigh 3 pounds and 10 ounces. This is only a 4-ounce increase from the minimum or regulation size. Though this may not seem like a big deal, 4 ounces can matter a lot when it comes to bowling. Anything more than 4 ounces makes the game unfair.

Why Is the Weight of a Bowling Pin Important?

The regulation weight of a bowling pin comes from the idea that the pin should weigh 24% of the heaviest regulation bowling ball. The heaviest ball within regulation weighs 16 pounds and 0 ounces. That makes 3 pounds and 6 ounces 24% of that ball’s weight.

If the bowling pin is too heavy, then a ball will not be able to knock it down. At the same time, too light of bowling pins will be so easily knocked over that the game is basically a joke.

By being around 24% of the maximum ball weight, the bowling pin is challenging enough for it to be a game, but not so challenging that it is impossible to master.

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What Are Bowling Pins Made Out Of?

Just as the weight is set by the United States Bowling Congress, so too are the materials that a bowling pin is made out of. The core of the bowling pin is made out of new, or unused, hard maple. Technically, other materials can be used at the center, but they must be approved first.

Not just any maple will do for bowling pins, however. The maple for bowling pins is specifically harvested from the 45th parallel. This parallel runs through the northern United States. This parallel has fewer mineral concentrations, meaning that the wood’s density is increased.

Throughout the history of bowling, other materials have been tested for the pin’s center. For example, shredding wood, polypropylene fiberglass, and foam have all been tested but failed to pass the test. That leaves maple the ideal choice for bowling pin centers.

Still, the maple needed is rather scarce. As a result, certain synthetics have been approved for financial reasons and the environment’s sake.

Telling the difference between these two material bases is rather easy. The sound they make when they hit the ball and fall over is quite different. Maple core bowling pins have a much richer sound that comes from hardwood.

Almost every bowling pin you see has the same look. It is white with a red stripe(s). This coating is simply added to the solid block of maple. White lacquer is added to the maple and finished off with a clear layer. This makes the bowling pins more durable and attractive.

How Bowling Pins are Made

Blocks of maple are glued together to form the general shape of the bowling pin. They are then formed into their more technical shape using a lathe. Once the pin is shaped, it is coated for durability and appearance purposes.

Sometimes, bowling pins are made from approved synthetics, simply because of how rare this specific type of maple is. Only one type of synthetic material is approved by the United States Bowling Congress to date.

Dimensions of a Bowling Pin

The dimensions of a bowling pin will depend on the style of the pin. Most bowling pins today have a ten-pin style. This is typically the style of bowling pin you go to whenever you go to a lane. The specifications for this pin type are set by the United States Bowling Congress. These pins must be 4.75 inches at the widest point while being 15 inches tall.  

Another bowling pin type is duckpins and five pins. These bowling pins are shorter and wider than the tenpins, making them a bit easier to hit.

Canadian five pens are slightly bigger than duckpins but smaller than ten pins. They also have an inch wide band at the widest part. This increases the pin action after it has been struck.

One of the most unique bowling pins is the candlepins. These are 15-3/4 inches tall, making them the tallest of all the options. They are only 2-15/16 inches wide though. These pins weigh about the same as a candlepin ball.

Finally, the last type of bowling pin is the kegel. This pin type is used in kegel, a German bowling game. These are shaped much like a regular ten pin bowling pin, but they are smaller like a duckpin.

Anatomy of a Bowling Pin

Whenever you talk about a bowling pin, it actually has different parts. Looking at it, the pin probably looks the same from head to toe, but that is not the case. Knowing the correct terminology will help you out whenever you are talking about bowling. Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a bowling pin, starting from the crown and working our way down.

The crown is the very tip-top of the bowling pin. It is the top facing the ceiling. Right below the crown is the head. The head is the skinny surface at the top. The crown sits right at the top of the head.

Going slightly down, the neck of the bowling pin is the thinnest section. It connects the head to the belly. In contrast to the neck, the belly is the thickest part of the bowling pin.

At the bottom, you will find the skirt. This is the part that sits on the ground. Inside the bowling pin is the core, which is typically made of maple or some other synthetic material as discussed above.

How Far Apart Are Bowling Pins?       

If the pins are too close together, it can be too easy to bowl. In contrast, if the bowling pins are too far apart, it is impossible to hit more than one or two at a time.

As a result, there are regulations about how far apart the pins should be. Bowling pins, when playing ten pin bowling, are 12 inches apart from one another. Given that bowling balls have a regulation diameter of 8.5 inches, that leaves around 7.234 inches of extra space, allowing the ball to go through without hitting a pin.

How Much Do Bowling Pins Cost?

Given that bowling pins are made from a very specific type of maple, they are relatively expensive. A set of 10 bowling pins will easily cost you over $150. If you go for unique designs, the price will go up even more.

What Ball Weight Is Best for Knocking Over Bowling Pins?

Knowing exactly which bowling ball weight you should choose is a bit tricky. You must be able to pick up the ball, but you do want it to have enough weight that it creates a lot of pin action whenever it hits the pins.

You almost always need a bowling ball that is over 10 pounds. Anything under does not provide enough pin action, making it difficult to actually get a good score.

League bowlers tend to pick balls pretty close to the regulation maximum. Balls between 14 pounds and 15 pounds tend to be the favorite among professional bowlers because they offer quite a bit of weight without straining their wrist or hand. Some people will have success with 12 pound and 13 pound balls as well, but it isn’t as common.

What Is the Minimum Weight of a Bowling Ball?

There is actually no minimum weight to a bowling ball. Still, anyone who takes the game seriously knows that they shouldn’t use a ball under 10 pounds. Anything under 10 pounds will not give enough pin action to compete competitively.

Obviously, someone learning the game or who has very weak muscles will greatly benefit from a ball under 10 pounds.

What Is the Maximum Weight of a Bowling Ball?

The maximum weight of a bowling ball is 16 pounds. This weight was used to determine the weight of the bowling pin. If any balls over 16 pounds are used, it gives them an unfair advantage because they can impart more power on the bowling pins, meaning that they can knock the pins down easier.

The heavier the ball is, the more power that can be imparted on the pins. That is why league players tend to get as close to the 16-pound maximum weight as possible whenever they are playing.

How Long is a Bowling Lane?

A bowling lane includes three parts: the approach area, the length, and the width. The approach area is the area you use to wind up the ball and let it go. This area is about 15 feet. This is enough space for you to create speed and rotation for the ball to go down the bowling lane.

Once the foul line is crossed, you are entering the actual lane. The lane is 60 feet long and 41.5 inches wide. Both sides of the lane will have gutters for balls to go into. Since bowling lanes are so long, the bowling pins look a lot smaller than what they actually are.

Final Thoughts

Bowling pins take a lot of heat. You can get your anger out on someone by flinging the ball at them, and they just have to take it. What’s even worse is that people don’t appreciate how delicately they are sanctioned and regulated.

A sanctioned bowling pin will weigh 3 pounds and 6 ounces. Still, you can find other bowling pins, but they will be between the regulated weight and 3 pounds and 10 ounces.

This gives very little wiggle room about bowling pin weight, but it makes it easier to bowl.

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