Bowling Pins: 3 Types Explained

Bowling Pins: 3 Types Explained

Bowling pins seem like a pretty straightforward thing.

Well, they can get a little more complicated than that.

Three main types basically make up all of the bowling pin world’s specificities, and we’re going to go over all of them.

You have to know two things about bowling pins to understand why there are even different types in the first place: weight matters, and size matters.

The taller a pin is, the more weighted to make them evenly difficult to knockdown.

Let’s get started by looking at the history of bowling pins, so we can see why we even need different types in the first place.

History of Bowling Pins

5 Pin Bowling Pins

Do you want to hear something crazy?

Bowling has been around for over 7,000 years.

In 5,000 B.C., the Egyptians would roll smooth stones at different items (whatever they had around, but usually wooden or stone pins in a sense) and try to knock them over.

Yeah, bowling is actually older than most of the other sports we play in modern times.

It traveled through a lot of time with sparse pop-ups before the sport of bowling really reached Germany, in about 300 A.D. (where we’ve come to know a more common form of it).

These were just called “pin game,” though, and no two were the same.

They were similar but had differences in scoring. This all led to what was known as “ninepins” in America a few hundred years ago.

Bowling pins haven’t undergone many variations since the late 1800s.

There were some different sized pins, but then in 1895, a man named Joe Thum founded the American Bowling Congress.

A few years later, in 1917, we had the Women’s National Bowling Association, which utilized some of the same rules set by the ABC, namely pin size regulations in height, width, and weight.

Different Types of Bowling Pins


Bowling Candlepin

Candlepin is its own type of bowling. It’s associated with relaxing and going out for a Friday night, and not being too serious.

Candlepins are usually about 4 ½” in total diameter and stick straight up—they’re not bulbous like duckpins or ten-pins are. It makes them harder to hit but easier to knockdown.

Candlepins are set about the same space apart as ten-pin and duckpin bowling pins, so there’s no major difference in how you play except that you’re basically dealing with a smaller target from the same distance.

They can be harder to knock over because, with candlepin bowling, you’re using smaller bowling balls.

You have to really be able to spin it down the lane properly to knock them all down.

Candlepins generally have a stripe on them and a slight bit of narrowing near the top and weigh around 2.4 lbs each.


Bowling Duckpin

These short, stubby looking pins are like the little brother to ten-pin bowling pins.

They actually weigh the same as their taller counterparts, being 3.4 lbs each.

This makes them extremely difficult to knock down, but since they have a similar diameter to ten-pins, they don’t take up more space.

There’s just a lot less room for them to tip over.

What I mean by that is this: if you tap into a ten-pin, you’re going to see the top move a little, and maybe it will tip over.

With a duckpin, it’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing. Because of their size, they either get knocked over or stay strong.

There’s very little room for an in-between.

Duckpin bowling balls are smaller than ten-pin bowling balls but slightly larger than candlepin bowling balls.

Arguably, duckpin bowling is harder than ten-pin bowling because you need more force to knock the pins over, and you have a much smaller ball to do it with.

A duckpin bowling ball will be the same as a duckpin itself, 3.6 lbs, so you don’t get that extra leverage.

Compare that to a 16 lb ten-pin bowling ball up against pins of the same weight, slightly easier to knock over.


Bowling Tenpin

Ten-pin is the most-revered type of bowling. It’s not for random Friday nights. It’s not a junior league. It’s a big time.

Ten-pin bowling pins weigh 3.6 lbs and stand about 15 inches tall. 40% taller than duckpins at the same weight.

These generally feature two stripes and come with a diameter that’s somewhere between duckpins and standard candlepins.

Because they’re used with standard bowling balls, which are 16 lbs and much larger than duckpin or candlepin balls, they’re technically the easiest to knock down in terms of statistics.

However, these bowling balls are the hardest to send down the lanes, especially with accuracy. Everything balances out.

What Are Bowling Pins Made of?

Most bowling pins are made out of maple wood, which undergoes a heavy process.

They’re solid and then processed on a lathe where they’re turned into the right shape and weight of a standard bowling pin.

This is why there’s generally a few ounces of wiggle room for official bowling pin weights (wood density).

But since maple wood is becoming expensive, there are synthetic ways to make bowling pins that many manufacturers are taking advantage of.

Most of these methods are approved by pro leagues, but for the most part, they want you to use real wooden pins.

I should note that the only approved method of making synthetic pins is in ten-pin bowling.

After everything is cut down, these pins are coated in a poly material (plastics), painted, and hit again with another coating material to prevent cracking.

How Long Does a Bowling Pin Last?

Cracked Bowling pin

Bowling pins last for about three seasons in a pro league.

That’s a considerable amount of time, and it’s why bowling pin manufacturing is at an all-time low.

There’s currently a single factory in the entire continental United States that still manufactures bowling pins. Most brands you know (like Brunswick, for example) all commission or contract this one plant to make their pins. The needs aren’t what they used to be.

Admittedly, bowling has become less popular over the years.

People are working more, finding less time to spend doing recreational activities, and considering bowling to be an obscure activity or sport (depending on what type you play).

This is why synthetic manufacturing has come into play. Wooden pins last for three seasons, but synthetic pins can last for about four seasons if you stretch them.

If you’re wondering, “What’s the risk of using older pins?” then I have some news for you.

Microcracks. It sounds like some BS, but small splits and cracks will happen in the pin, which will reduce how the ball impacts each pin, will greatly impact your game.

Part of the goal is to knock the front pin into the others, and if there’s less momentum, it’s not doing you any favors.

Which One is Right for You?

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to bowling, so are you more of a PBA-championship type of guy, or are you fine with lightweight candlepins to blow off some steam?

Take your pick, practice with them, and hone your ability to play the game (y’ know, and to absolutely smoke your friends when you all go out for “casual” Friday night bowling).

How to Bowl Like a Professional [Bowling Tutorial]


GIGGLE N GO Kids Bowling Set Indoor Games or Outdoor Games for Kids. Hilariously Fun Giant Yard Games for Kids and Adults. Fun Sports Games, Outside Games or Indoor Games for Kids

$34.99  in stock
2 new from $34.99
1 used from $28.49
Free shipping
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • HILARIOUS OUTDOOR GAMES FOR KIDS, perfect indoor or outdoor games for family or kids party games. it's lightweight and easy to carry. wonderful games for kids to play and uses no electricity. this giant inflatable bowling set is sure to get your kids off the couch, get some exercise, and develop their hand/eye coordination, balance, and some friendly competition
  • SAND WEIGHTED BOTTOM, yes, thats right, our flat sand weighted base provides just enough weight to keep the pins standing even in light wind while playing some lawn games, but not too much to prevent them from being knocked over when struck by the ball
  • MADE IN A STRONGER QUALITY PVC, customer satisfaction is always our number 1 priority, so a high quality PVC was chosen to make our giant bowling set. whether you love to play indoor games or outdoor games, its most important to us that our kids inflatable toys exceed your expectations
  • BOWLING SET INCLUDES 6 giant inflatable bowling pins measuring 27" tall, and one inflatable bowling ball measuring 24 " in diameter, all made of durable PVC plastic. our kids outdoor toys also includes a repair patch and hand pump
  • Giggle N Go, customer satisfaction is our number 1 priority. All Giggle N Go products come with a 1 year product replacement warranty.

S&S Worldwide Weighted Bowling Pins

$67.99  in stock
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • So stable you can take them outdoors!
  • Official size and shape 15"H pins resist rocking
  • Weighted bottoms for greater stability
  • Also allows for easier setup
  • Wind-resistant for outside play

Champion Sports Plastic Bowling Pins: Set for Training & Kids Games

 in stock
5 new from $50.55
Free shipping
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • 10 PIN BOWLING - Champion Sports Plastic Bowling Pin set features ten white pins, the number used by the pros; buy bowling pins and balls for school physical education classes or the recreation room
  • ADD WEIGHT FOR STABILITY - Don’t worry about the wind or slightly uneven surfaces ruining your game ideas; each pin has a ½” capped hole to add sand for additional weight and stability so pins stay in place and you can bowl over and over
  • PERFECT FOR PRACTICE - If you're a beginner trying to become the best, you need the right accessories; this multi-surface equipment helps develop your control and technique for the real bowling alley
  • PERFECT FOR KIDS, ADULTS - This set makes bowling a fun, cool game for men, women, boys, and girls; the perfect sporting goods for a backyard birthday party, vacation, and more
  • SET SHEET, SCORE PAD - Place the pins with the set up sheet and get the whole family together for a round of lawn bowling; keep track of everyone's scores with the included stat sheet

Champion Sports Multicolor Bowling Pins: Weighted Foam Set for Training & Kids Games

 in stock
7 new from $55.18
Free shipping
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • Heavy-duty, coated foam construction affords durability in your P.E. class, day care center or recreational facility
  • Resists peeling, cracking and moisture damage thanks to the Rhino Skin coating
  • Weighted design allows the pins to stand firmly
  • Pins stand 11.5 in. tall
  • Includes two pins each of royal blue, green, yellow, orange and red, for a total of 10 pins

Fun Express - Bowling Set (12pc) - Toys - Games - Indoor & Mini Game Sets - 1 Piece

$13.99  out of stock
2 new from $13.99
Free shipping
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • Bowl anytime with your own bowling set. A fun addition to your party supplies or collection of toys, practice your strikes and spares indoors or out.
  • Great for Kids: Set this up at your next birthday party to keep your party goers busy for hours with some friendly competition. Or, keep it for yourself and make it the newest addition to your summer collection of toys.
  • Full Set. Includes 10 plastic pins and two plastic balls.
  • Large Bowling Pins: 8.5 inch size
  • Balls Size: 4 inch

WEY&FLY Giant Inflatable Bowling Game Set - Jumbo Size - 6 27" Pins and 1 24" Ball and 1 Pump, Giant Indoor and Outdoor Game, Fun for Kids of All Ages, A Great Party Game for Kids and Family

$20.99  in stock
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • [Better yard party game experience]: Enjoy indoor or outdoor bowling and yard party toys. Each bowling pin has a solid bottom weight design. Flat support doesn't fall off easily and provides enough weight to stay upright even in breeze or grass, enjoy better game enjoyment.
  • [Easy bowling, cultivate fun]: Inflatable bowling set suitable for each age group, easy to play for more fun experience, develop game coordination ability, and become more intimately with parents while playing, invite friends to join our friendship game.
  • [0.25mm thick safety materials]: They are all made of durable PVC plastic and are non-toxic and harmless. After a 24-hour leak-proof test, don't worry about air leaks. The bowling set includes six 27-inch inflatable bowling pins, 24-inch inflatable bowling balls and a manual pump.
  • [A variety of ways to play]: Whether you like to play indoor games or outdoor games, it is very important for us that our huge inflatable bowling ball exceeds your expectations, you can break the traditional bowling rules and create your own way of playing.
  • [Lightweight and portable]: easy to carry, in the uninflated state, we can carry it with us, it will not affect our activities. In various party parties, the bowling game will be loved by everyone and promote the growth of friendship.

CROWN ME Shuffleboard Bowling Pin Set

$49.99  in stock
1 new from $49.99
1 used from $43.16
Free shipping
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • Set includes 10 solid hardwood bowling pins,Note: shuffleboard pucks not included
  • Pin size: 4.25” tall, 1” in diameter,Pin setter size: 12”x12”x2”.
  • Durable MDF triangular pin setter,High quality with visible logo pin setter.
  • Foam protector on bottom of pins,Top quality for playing bowling on shuffleboard table

Bowling Set Game w/10 Solid Wood Bowling Pins, Triangular Pinsetter, and High Grade Resin Bowling Ball, Ideal for Shuffleboard Bowling Pin Games

 in stock
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • , Complete Set: Mini Shuffleboard bowling pins made of hardwood pin, with surface polished for a high end quality finish. Resin made bowling balls of 1 5/8 in diameter without finger holes included as well. Durable MDF triangular pinsetter enable an easy-restart gaming.
  • & : The triangular pinsetter for quick game start on the shuffleboard table, playground. Ideal for the kids and adult training on curling shuffleboard game, as it is has easy game transfer.
  • : The Bowling game features as all-people game for its easy rules. Our all-in-one bowling pin set is the best solution that you need for a fun day with kids, friends, family teams, in outdoor or indoor play.
  • : The Bowling sets included:10pcs hardwood with white paints bowling pins and a MDF triangular pinsetter with customized white bowling ball.
  • :We promised to providing high end quality products and best lowest price and most valuable on all of our products line.If you do not like our product please kindly return them back to us or we can replace new one for you as our products carefully checked.

Gamecraft Tuff Foam Bowling Pin Set

 out of stock
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • These coated foam pins are made "Tuff" just like our coated foam balls
  • Players experience the feel of real bowling without the noise
  • Soft, lightweight pins are durable enough to be used indoors and outdoors
  • Set includes 10 coated foam 14"H pins.

Playcraft Pinsetter with Bowling Pins

$69.95  in stock
2 new from $69.95
Free shipping
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • Deluxe pinsetter
  • 10 painted wooden bowling pins
  • Spacing and size suitable for home and pro style tables
  • Nylon carry and storage bag

Lightweight Bowling Complete Set

 out of stock
as of April 17, 2021 7:36 am


  • Great for teaching proper bowling techniques and skills to beginners
  • 5 lb. rubber ball affords easy handling for young students
  • Sets up quickly in a P.E. class, recreational facility or day care center
  • Hollow pins can be easily knocked over, improving the confidence of youngsters before they hit the lanes
  • Includes ten 15 in. tall, 5 oz. hollow pins, one 5 lb. rubber ball, one setup sheet and one score pad

Leave a Comment