Bowling Pins

The Life of a Bowling Pin

Bowling pins.
Mid-life bowling pins.

Bowling pins don’t get much respect—their sole purpose is to be viciously knocked down by a heavy sphere. But just what are we aiming at? Here are some facts about a standard bowling pin.

Bowling Pin Facts

Composition: Hard maple
Coating: Plastic
Height: 15 inches
Weight: Between 3 pounds, 6 ounces and 3 pounds, 10 ounces
Base Diameter: 2 ¼ inches
Circumference at Widest Point: 15 inches

A Pin’s Life

Most bowling centers will have at least two sets of pins. This way, the operator can rotate out one set midway through the bowling season and allow those pins to rest while using the other set. If consistently rotated, a set of pins will last three good seasons of league bowling before a center operator needs to purchase new pins.

Pin life can be stretched beyond that, but the quality of play will go down.

After the Peak

There is a third set of pins bowling alleys will keep on site—the worn-down, no-longer-worthy-of-league play set. These are the pins you’re likely throwing at during open bowling (or rock and bowl, or cosmic bowling or whatever your local center calls it) in the summer. This allows both good sets of pins to rest before league play starts again in September. If you’ve ever bowled in the summer and didn’t understand why the pins weren’t carrying or were reacting softly, this could be why.

Many bowling centers give away a bowling pin to a child holding a birthday party at the facility. This pin is almost always completely useless from a bowling standpoint. If a pin reaches the end of its usable stage and isn't lucky enough to be given away, it's discarded.