Have you ever wondered how much a bowling pin weighs?
Turns out, there’s quite a bit of variety in weight amongst different pins.
The standard and lightest bowling pin can weigh as little as 3 pounds and 6 ounces (around 1.5 kilograms), while the heaviest will not exceed 3 pounds and 10 ounces (around 1.6 kilograms).
And these specifications are often set by the USBC or United States Bowling Congress.
So, if you’re looking to get into bowling (or are just curious about those big heavy pins), read on for more information.
The importance of bowling pin weight
The weight is just as important as the length of a tennis racket, or how tight a football is inflated.
The importance stems from the fact that each pin has to be hit perfectly on its center by the ball in order for the pins to fall down.
A slight deviation will result in an off-center hit, and this will result in the pins not being hit.
And if you’ve ever watched bowling before, you’ll know that one pin won’t be enough to knock down all ten pins – so slightly off-center hits simply don’t cut it.
Therefore, knowing how heavy these things are is crucial to bowling success.
It’s important because of where you want your ball to hit the pins – the middle.
And the only way you can do that is by knowing at what point your ball will be centered on the pin.
The bowling establishments use standard regulations for this, but they are not uniform across all the states in the US.
Bowling pin weight based on game variations
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
The USBC or United States Bowling Congress regulates how much a pin should weigh depending on what type of game is being played – tenpins, for example, have different specifications than candlepin.
And within these two categories lies four sub-types (five, if you include the duckpin variation, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether).
The complete list weight specifications is as follows:
- Duckpin weight – 3 pounds, 10 ounces (around 1.6 kilograms)
- Tenpins weight pattern A – 3 pounds, 6 ounces (around 1.5 kilograms)
- Tenpins weight pattern B – 3 pounds, 8 ounces (just under 1.6 kilograms)
- Candlepin weight – 3 pounds, 5 ounces (around 1.43 kilograms)
- Tenpins weight – 3 pounds, 10 ounces (around 1.6 kilograms)
The weight of tenpins pins varies depending on the game’s different categories.
For example, in an indoor league game (league play), the pins will be lighter than in an outdoor league.
So by knowing how much each category weighs, you can deduce how light or heavy your own set of pins are.
And this is because USBC does not allow bowling alleys to adjust their weight or size specifications.
However, that’s not the end of your work – you also need to know what category pins fall into (e.g., tenpins or candlepin).
The standard and lightest pin we’ve come across in our research is the candlepin pin.
But there is also the duckpin, which is much lighter at just 3 pounds, 10 ounces.
And these are good pins for kids to practice with.
On the other hand, tenpins can weigh as much as 3 pounds, 10 ounces – so you might want to find out how much your pin weighs before picking up a spare.
How do you know how much your bowling pins weigh?
As mentioned above, you can always get in touch with your local bowling alley or USBC-certified pro-shop to find out how much your particular set of pins weighs.
However, if there are no shops around you that meet this description, then you are left only with the option of finding out by yourself.
This is relatively simple to do, all you have to do is calibrate your bathroom scale or even just use a regular kitchen scale.
You can then calculate the exact weight of each bowling pin by measuring their weights separately and adding them up.
Finally, remember if your pins are not on par with league standards for weight, this will only affect your performance in league games where you will have to adjust your throw to compensate for the lower weight, but in a casual match with friends, this won’t be much of a problem.
Why are the weight specifications for bowling pins regulated by the USBC?
The USBC regulates the weight of bowling pins because it is responsible for the very rules and regulations that govern bowling.
It also defines what equipment people can use in a televised championship, for instance.
So, if there were no such organization overseeing these things, then this would have been a free-for-all market.
And by taking on the responsibility of regulating the weight and size of bowling pins, it ensures that a level playing field is always kept across all bowling alleys.
Bowling pin weight standards will ensure that all bowlers have access to the same equipment – this makes for fairer games and means anyone can compete against each other without any need to adjust his or her playstyle.
In this way, bowling becomes a democratic sport.
The USBC also regulates other types of equipment that tournaments and championships might use, such as specific balls or gloves.
The USBC is also responsible for making sure that there are standard specifications across the board – if it hadn’t regulated these things, then alley owners would have been free to play with the equipment specifications of their choice, which might have disrupted the very essence of bowling.
How do you adjust to playing with different weight bowling pins?
The USBC also encourages bowling alleys to use equipment that is similar in weight and size – this is because it wants things to be standardized across the board.
In fact, some bowling alleys have been known to even go above and beyond their requirements just so there is more of a balance from one alley to another.
In any case, if you are playing in a casual match, then there is nothing that forces you to use the same type of bowling pins as your friends or teammates.
So, if they’re using different weights and sizes, then all you’ll need to do is adjust the way you throw the ball – not by much though.
Simply put, don’t try and compensate for a bowling pin weight difference by adjusting the way you spin your wrist or by throwing the ball harder.
Instead, try to adjust in such a manner that is more conducive to how your body naturally bowls.
What factors influence the weight of a bowling pin?
The weight of a bowling pin is determined by certain factors, such as the size and material that it’s made from.
Let’s take a look at some of these factors below:
Size – the chief determinant of the weight of a bowling pin is its size.
In fact, size alone will determine close to 70% or more of its weight.
This is pretty self-explanatory – the bigger a bowling pin is, then the heavier it will be too.
Material – what a bowling pin is made from is another factor that plays a role in determining how heavy it will be.
For example, if you have a titanium bowling pin, then this will be lighter than a steel bowling pin.
Bowling ball weight – what weight of bowling ball you are using is another factor that will affect how heavy your bowling pins will seem.
So, if you use a sixteen-pound (7.26 kg) bowling ball, then your pins will seem heavier than they would do if you were using a twelve-pound (5.44 kg) bowling ball.
Generally speaking, the more often you play with heavier weight bowling pins, then the easier it will be to adjust to them the next time you play with lighter weight ones.
So, know that no matter how difficult it seems at first, you’ll get used to it sooner rather than later.
And as long as the bowling alley uses the same type of standard pins, then you can be assured that your game will always remain fair and consistent.
Are there any benefits to using lighter or heavier bowling pins?
There are two main points of view when it comes to this matter:
One point of view is that lighter bowling pins make for a better game, as they make the pins stand up straighter and more predictably.
This means less time spent checking out where your pins went (if you didn’t pick them all up) and more time spent concentrating on getting a strike or spare.
The other point of view is that lighter pins make for more difficult conditions – this is because the bowling ball might not get the momentum it needs to get over the headpin or knock down all ten of them.
This means that you might end up with spares and splits more often than not.
It really does boil down to what you prefer and what the bowling alley prefers, as well as your skill level too.
If you are relatively new to bowling, then it might be better for you to use lighter-weight pins so that they stand up straight for an easier spare or strike shot scene.
Otherwise, you could always let the bowling alley know beforehand that you prefer to use heavier pins.
So, as long as you remember that lighter bowling pins mean easier conditions and that heavier ones make for tougher conditions, then you should be able to figure out which type of pins to go with pretty quickly.
Now that you know how much each type of bowling pin weighs, it’s important to understand USBC regulations so you can adjust your game accordingly.
For example, the standard weight for a tenpin is 3 pounds, 6 ounces but they can weigh up to 3 pounds, 10 ounces depending on the category of game.
Knowing this information will help you bowl with more accuracy and hopefully improve your score.
Jerry Coleman is a professional bowler and experienced bowling blogger. He founded and owns the voelkersbowling.net website, which provides news and information about the sport of bowling. Jerry has competed in numerous tournaments over the years and has won several awards for his bowling skills.