What is duckpin bowling?

Duckpin is the most popular variant of standard bowling on the United States East Coast.

It has a deep history that we have detailed in this article.

If you’re a fan of the bowling game, then you’re in for a treat because we’re about to tell you everything there is to know about Duckpin bowling.

What is duckpin bowling?

Duckpin bowling is very similar to ten-pin bowling; however, the equipment is smaller and has a few key differences.

Duckpin bowling aims to knock down as many pins as possible while scoring as many points as possible.

The victor is the player who has amassed the most points.

You can find duckpin bowling all over the eastern United States, from arcades to tournaments.

The game has been around for some time and is gradually becoming more popular in other regions.

The history of duckpin bowling

Nobody knows where the sport first appeared.

The bowling, billiards, and pool hall owned by John McGraw, a future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Wilbert Robinson in Baltimore around 1900 is often cited as the birthplace of duckpin bowling.

A newspaper article from 1894 verifies the sport of duckpin bowling.

The Pittsburgh Press, on March 3, 1929, featured earlier coverage.

In the early 1950s, inventor Ken Sherman unveiled the first iteration of the automatic duckpin pinsetter, which saw production through 1973.

This version bears his name and is standard equipment in duckpin alleys all over the country.

The majority of duckpin establishments still use this pinsetter.

Women’s National Duckpin Association, founded in 1982, provided a platform for women to compete in national and professional duckpin tournaments.

This group is in charge of putting on several tournaments every year in the New England and Mid-Atlantic areas.

The Grand Prix is the annual championship tournament.

Differences between duckpin bowling and ten-pin bowling

To grasp how duckpin bowling differs from ten-pin bowling, you may be interested in learning about the most significant differences between the equipment and lanes used in the two sports.

Let’s evaluate duckpin and ten-pin bowling by comparing their setups and dimensions.

Duckpin bowling alleys

The material used to construct a duckpin bowling lane is similar to that used in other types of bowling lanes.

Bowling lanes are typically constructed of wood and synthetic materials and coated with oil to reduce friction and improve ball control.

The length of a duckpin bowling lane is comparable, as are its dimensions.

Duckpin and ten-pin lanes are nearly identical, measuring 41 inches wide and 60 feet long from the foul line.

All approach dots and arrowheads are 15 feet before and after the foul line.

The size of the gutters is the primary distinguishing feature between duckpin and ten-pin bowling.

Duckpin bowling lanes are significantly narrower because the balls are significantly smaller.

Narrower gutters make retrieving dropped balls easier.

Duckpin bowling ball

Unlike the larger, heavier, and more difficult to maneuver bowling balls of ten-pin bowling, the balls used in duckpin bowling are made of synthetic material or rubber, making them much lighter in weight.

There are standard dimensions and weights for duckpin bowling balls, which are 4.75 to 5 inches in diameter and 3.5 to 4 pounds, respectively, making them roughly 60% smaller than ten-pin bowling balls but slightly larger than candlepin bowling balls.

Not only are there no three-finger holes in Duckpin bowling balls, but this is a major distinction from the ten-pin bowling ball.

Traditional bowlers insert three fingers into the ball to properly hook and curve the ball down the lane and knock over all the pins.

Whereas in duckpin bowling, there aren’t any holes, to begin with.

To knock down all of the pins, you must hold the ball in your hand and throw it instead of guiding it.

Duckpin bowling pins

Duckpin bowling employs pins significantly different from those used in traditional bowling.

We all know that ten-pin bowling pins are 15 inches in height, made of synthetic material, and quite heavy.

Duckpin bowling uses ten pins, but they are smaller, squatter, and thinner. 9-9.5 inches tall, 4 inches wide.

Small pins make duckpin bowling more challenging than ten-pin bowling.

Duckpin bowling scores are typically lower than ten-pin bowling scores because it’s difficult to hit them all in one turn.

The rules of duckpin bowling

There are parallels between duckpin and ten-pin bowling in terms of the rules.

Bowlers compete for over ten frames, each of which they attempt to finish using as few rolls as possible.

Instead of using two bowling balls per frame, as is customary, ten-pin bowling uses three.

If the bowler successfully removes all ten pins on their initial frame roll, they have achieved a strike.

You score a spare when all the pins get eliminated in two rolls.

As in candlepins, the score is a simple “ten” if all the pins fall in three rolls.

Each remaining pin is worth one point if the third ball gets knocked down.

A bowler can get a maximum of 30 points if they roll a strike and the two balls that follow it.

If you roll a spare, you get 10 points, plus however many pins you knock down on the subsequent ball, up to 20 points.

In bowling, a player receives a maximum of 10 points if they use more than three balls to smash down all ten pins.

The sum of a bowler’s frame totals for ten games constitutes their final score.

If you roll a perfect game or a strike in the tenth frame, you get one and two rolls, respectively.

The theoretical maximum score of 300 points gets achieved by rolling 12 consecutive strikes.

Where is duckpin bowling popular?

Close to a century after its inception, duckpin bowling has amassed a sizable competitive infrastructure.

There are still places to bowl, even though duckpin bowling alleys require special lanes, balls, and scoring systems.

You can play it in just a few locations, including Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, and others.

Due to its lightning-fast gameplay and user-friendly design, Duckpin is attracting a brand-new fan base.

Duckpin is a great way to bring people together because it is easy to learn and play and can accommodate large groups on lanes.

Duckpin bowling lanes are a common alternative for businesses that don’t have room for traditional bowling alleys.

How to get a strike in duckpin bowling?

In duckpin bowling, a perfect score is 300.

You can achieve this score by rolling strikes in every frame.

Two shots and ten points are yours after a first-ball strike.

Your first-round score will be the sum of your first three shots, including the strike.

You will get a spare if you fail to get a strike and eliminate all remaining pins on your second attempt.

In other words, the next time you take a single shot, it will be worth 10 points toward the current round’s total.

There has never been a perfect game in duckpin bowling, but there have been some very impressive scores.

Until now, Newington, Connecticut’s Pete Signore was the only bowler to achieve a perfect 300 game.

How to throw a duckpin bowling ball?

In duckpin bowling, players roll a ball down a lane and try to knock down as many pins as possible.

The head pin is the highest in the middle of the lane and should be your first target.

It’s common knowledge that if you start by striking the headpin, you’ll be better positioned to take out the rest of the pins.

Secondly, if you can get the pins in front of the rack to fall, the pins behind them will also be more likely to fall.

Depending on the lane, the best spot for the ball is slightly in front of the headpin.

When ready, release the ball in a controlled and smooth motion.

It’s not uncommon for players to have trouble maintaining control of their shots if they tend to jerk the ball or release it inconsistently.

A player’s ability to direct and modulate the force of their shots greatly improves if they can maintain a steady release.

How to keep score in duckpin bowling?

Duckpin bowlers can use any one of several available scorekeeping apps to keep track of their games.

Bowling Scorekeeper is the most well-known of these programs.

The app is simple and works well on iOS and Android.

It has an integrated calculator for keeping tabs on your average score and can also be used to monitor your standing in the league.

What are duckpin bowling balls made of?

The duckpin bowling balls are either made of rubber or some synthetic material, making them significantly lighter in weight.

Do you need bowling shoes for duckpin bowling?

You do not need to wear the specialized bowling shoes other bowlers have used for many years to participate in duckpin bowling.

If you bring your shoes, the only requirement is that they have a soft sole and a closed toe so that your footwear is not too difficult on the lane.

However, some lanes will allow you to wear different shoes if that is what you prefer to do.

What is a good duckpin bowling score?

If a league bowler consistently scores 175 points across all games, they have a good performance at the bowling alley.

That is an incredible average score for a novice game, provided you play games with 175 points.

A good bowler can occasionally maintain a score of 70 or 100 throughout the year.

How long is duckpin bowling lane?

The gutter line stretches from the foul line to the headpin and extends into the center of the pole.

It has a length of 60 feet (18.29 meters) and a width of 42 inches (110 cm) when measured without including it on either side of the pole.

Preparation before the next turn happens on a 15-foot bowling area outside the foul line.

This area measures 4.57 meters in length.

A foul line has a length of 25 centimeters and a width of 60 feet (18 inches).

The footprint width for a duckpin bowling lane is 41 inches, and the length from the foul line to the end is 60 feet.

The legal length of the lane is 18 feet, corresponding to a speed of approximately 19 miles per hour.

Where is duckpin bowling played?

Today, ten-pin bowling centers are more common in the United States than duckpin bowling centers.

There are bowling alleys dedicated to duckpin bowling in the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine; Chicago, Indiana; Maryland—particularly Baltimore; Wisconsin, Virginia, Georgia, and Ohio; and suburban Washington, District of Columbia.

Rockwell Lanes in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is home to the final duckpin bowling center in the state of Pennsylvania.

You can find a second duckpin center in Potter, Nebraska, and this establishment may be the only one of its kind to be found west of the Mississippi River.

However, construction on a third duckpin center is ongoing in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Recently, the state of Washington welcomed the first duckpin bowling center to open in the western United States at Ocean5 in Gig Harbor.

The game of duckpin bowling is slowly becoming less common, but the older and younger generations continue to enjoy playing it.

Where to buy duckpin bowling equipment?

If you are looking for good bowling equipment, you can purchase them from online retailers such as Amazon and eBay.

You can also inquire with the duckpin bowling staff at the bowling alley center about possible stores they might recommend.

On the East Coast, you’ll also find that many of the major sporting goods retailers stock duckpin equipment in their stores.

Why do they call it duckpin bowling?

When the ball struck Robinson and McGraw, who both enjoyed duck hunting as a hobby in their spare time, they saw the pins flying in the air.

Robinson remarked that it gave the appearance of birds flying over the pins, hence the name duckpin bowling.


A great new spin on the time-honored sport of ten-pin bowling, known as duckpin bowling, is increasingly becoming popular today.

Even though duckpin bowling is a more difficult game, most people would rather play it because it is a sport that is easier to learn.

People have been engaging in and enjoying this sport for quite some time.

You can now play this legendary game on a professional level, or you can play it with your loved ones and friends whenever you have some spare time.

Businesses can impress their customers and give them a night to remember by introducing duckpin bowling.