How Are Bowling Pins Reset? (A Quick Answer)

Have you ever wondered how those bowling pins magically reset after each turn? The process is much more fascinating than just hitting the reset button on your gaming console.

Behind this seemingly simple act lies a blend of technology, mechanics, and innovation that ensures every strike or spare attempt begins with a perfectly arranged set of pins.

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the secrets behind the automatic pinsetters that work tirelessly to make your bowling experience smooth, efficient, and enjoyable.

How Automatic Pinsetters Work

Automatic pinsetters work through the use of sensors and cameras that detect fallen pins, a mechanical process that lifts the pin table, spots new pins on the lane, and resets them in place.

Pin Detection Through Sensors And Cameras

Automatic pinsetters rely heavily on advanced pin detection technology to accurately monitor and reset the pins after each bowling turn.

Utilizing sensors and cameras strategically placed in various areas of the bowling lane, the system ensures seamless resetting without any user intervention.

Innovative camera sensors capture images of standing pins while scoring sensors analyze these images and transmit information back to the scoring system, providing an accurate account of how many pins are left following a player’s throw.

Furthermore, this essential data guides motorized machinery through its complex process involving conveyor belts, pulleys, and cams to efficiently reset wooden pins for the next frame.

Pin Table Lift And Pin Spotting

In the fascinating world of bowling, automatic pinsetters play a crucial role in ensuring seamless gameplay by efficiently resetting pins for each player.

Firstly, after a bowler has completed their turn, sensors and cameras detect any fallen or remaining pins on the lane. The pin table then descends and lifts any standing pins out of harm’s way while a sweep arm clears away those knocked down.

Meanwhile, new pins are prepared for placement using 10 designated spots on the lifting assembly known as ‘spotting cups.’

As the freshly loaded pin table lowers back onto the alley surface, it flawlessly resets all ten bowling pins into their precise positions.

Mechanical Process Of Pin Resetting

The mechanical process of pin resetting begins with an automatic pinsetter using sensors and cameras to detect the position of fallen bowling pins.

The equipment houses a total of 20 pins, ensuring there are always enough to replace those knocked down during gameplay.

Upon activation, an assembly known as a ‘pin table’ is lowered onto the remaining standing pins, encircling them with its grasping arms. These arms then lift and reposition them in their precise locations on what’s called ‘pin decks.’

Simultaneously, any fallen or out-of-play pins are swept away by an oscillating bar while new ones are released from a storage carousel above.

The Evolution Of Bowling Pin Setting Technology

how are bowling pins reset

From Manual Reset To Machine-operated

The evolution of technology has significantly impacted the bowling industry, specifically in terms of pin resetting. Initially, manual labor was required to reset the pins after each round.

However, with the introduction of automatic machines in 1946, everything changed.

Over time, different types of pin-setting technologies have been developed to make the process more efficient and cost-effective while reducing human error.

In recent years, string pinsetters have even emerged as a new innovation that uses strings instead of big mechanical arms for racking bowls.

Development Of Different Pin-setting Technologies

Over the years, different pin-setting technologies have been developed to make bowling more effective and efficient. The first pinsetters were manually operated by human beings who physically set the pins back into place after each turn.

With advances in technology, automated mechanical devices called pinsetters or pin spotters were introduced. These machines use sensors and cameras to detect when a ball has knocked down all ten pins, then lift and spot new ones according to their correct positions.

Despite criticism from professional bowlers who claim that these advanced technologies affect the sport’s integrity, many believe that these systems help provide an enjoyable experience for players while reducing labor costs for alley owners.

Introduction Of String Pinsetters

String pinsetters have emerged as a more cost-effective and efficient technology compared to traditional mechanical pinsetters used in bowling alleys. Instead of using mechanical arms to reset pins, this new system employs strings attached to the top of each pin.

The strings are triggered when a ball knocks down any pins, causing them to retract from the playing area and be automatically restored using gravity alone.

However, the introduction of string pinsetters has caused controversy among professional bowlers who prefer traditional equipment due to its precision engineering. Research shows that bowlers achieved better results on string pinsetters with shorter strings.

Bowling businesses also benefit from reduced maintenance costs associated with repairs and servicing on free fall or other types of mechanical systems formerly used for resetting pins.

Maintenance And Troubleshooting For Automatic Pinsetters

Regular Cleaning And Lubrication

Proper maintenance is necessary for the smooth operation of automatic pinsetters used in bowling alleys. One critical aspect of upkeep is regular cleaning and lubrication.

Bowling alley equipment can accumulate dust, debris, and other particles that can affect its performance. By wiping down and removing any buildup, the machine’s sensors and cameras will function accurately without interruption.

Neglecting to clean or lubricate your pinsetter can lead to frustrating malfunctions during gameplay. If you notice a malfunctioning piece of equipment at your bowling alley, it might be due to inadequate care on the part of staff members.

Sensor Calibration And Testing

Regular sensor calibration and testing are crucial aspects of maintaining an automatic pinsetter in a bowling alley.

The Steltronic sensor model 11.2 is commonly used in many bowling centers and it’s essential to have it calibrated appropriately for accurate detection of fallen pins.

Photocell sensors must be aligned correctly, or false readings can occur leading to malfunctioning of the machine.

Additionally, calibration tools like laser alignment help correct bowlers’ strike points by aligning the unit frame to the centerline of the lane accurately.

Sensitivity adjustments are made based on environmental factors such as humidity levels, lane oil conditions, and temperature fluctuations among others within which these machines operate every day.

Pin Jam Prevention And Troubleshooting

To prevent pin jams, regular maintenance, and cleaning are key. Pinsetters should be cleaned and lubricated regularly to keep them running smoothly. Sensor calibration and testing can also help detect potential issues before they become major problems.

Additionally, it’s important to ensure that pins are properly aligned on the spotting table.

If a jam does occur, turning off the machine and rotating the pinwheel in the reverse direction can often relieve pressure at the jam. It’s important to take care when doing this to avoid injury or damage to the equipment.

Overall, proper maintenance and troubleshooting techniques can help prevent many common issues with automatic pinsetters.


In conclusion, the advancements in bowling technology have made it easier to enjoy the game without worrying about manually resetting pins or keeping track of scores. Automatic pinsetters have revolutionized the sport, making it much more accessible and enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

From sensors and cameras to mechanical processes that reset fallen pins, modern-day bowling alleys are now equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that ensures a smooth gameplay experience.

Additionally, maintenance is essential to ensure the proper functioning of automatic pinsetters while troubleshooting issues can be dealt with easily by following online resources readily available.