Bowling, originally called tenpins, is an extremely old game dating back to 3200 B.C. Evidence was discovered in an Egyptian grave in the 1930’s by a British anthropologist when he discovered what he thought might be toys in a child’s grave that resembled balls and pins. However, this game may have started even earlier in 5200 B.C. by the ancient Egyptians in which stones were used as balls. This sport consists of rolling a very heavy ball, 14 to 16 lbs. down a wooden alley and knocking down more pins that one’s opponent. The wooden alley consists of a polished lane 42 inches wide, and 60 feet in length from the foul line to the head pin.

In 1840, “Knickerbockers” in New York introduced the first indoor bowling alley to the public. In the early stages of the game, nine pins were used, and gambling was associated with the game. As a result nine-pin bowling is still banned in every state except Texas. So the game remains a ten-pin competition to the present time. Originally, bowling was considered a gentlemen’s sport, but in 1917 women came on board with their own governing body, the Women’s National Bowling Association.

The early design of the balls did not contain holes making it difficult for players to roll the ball. However, improvements came with time. By the 1900’s bowling balls were made of wood, and two or three holes were drilled for the player’s fingers. This material was later improved by changing from wood to heavy rubber. Eventually, polyester resin was used, which resulted in the manufacture of the colorful plastic balls that we see today.

A game consists of ten frames, and each frame represents one turn for the player, and the player may roll the ball twice with each turn. Scoring is interesting to consider since a “strike” in bowling is a good score meaning that every pin was knocked down with the first ball. A strike is recorded with an X and the player is given 10 points, plus the total number of pins knocked down by the next two balls. So, three strikes in a row is a score of 30 points. After the player has rolled his first ball, and if during the second roll, all of the pins are then knocked down, this is considered a “spare.” A spare is recorded with a slash mark in the small square on the scoring sheet, and no score is entered until the first ball of the next frame is rolled. Then 10 points, plus the number of pins knocked down with the first ball in the next frame, is recorded. If any pins are left standing after the second roll, it is called an “open frame,” and the player is given the score of the number of pins that were knocked down. On each side of the 60-foot lane are gutters, and the player will receive a score of zero if the ball drops into the gutter on either side of the alley because the ball will roll to the side without striking any pins. If a player steps over the foul line when rolling the ball down the lane, then no points are given even if pins are knocked down. A perfect score is 300 points which consists of twelve strikes in a row since the player receives two additional balls at the end of the ten frames, if he rolls a strike in every frame.

Street shoes are not allowed because they can damage the highly polished bowling lanes. Instead, special bowling shoes are required to be worn by the players. The shoes are unmatched in that one shoe will have a sole for traction, and the sole of the other will slide easily over the wooden lane.

To this day, bowling is considered a social event in which people can gather and have a relaxing and fun experience. If you’re interested in a fun-filled activity with family or friends, try your luck at bowling. Who knows? You may become a ten-pin champion!


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