Bowling Pin Layouts

Whether you are a beginner or a professional in the art of bowling, there is always room to learn something new. And one thing that you should always keep learning is the factual information about bowling and the several components associated with it to make your knowledge of the sport better.

Here we will be talking about bowling pin layouts. But, you might be wondering, how to set up bowling pins and how do they work? Well, that is precisely what I am here to tell you.

In this article, I will talk about things you should know about bowling pins, the shape they make when setting up, the distance between pins, the exact arrangement of pins, how to set them up, and everything in between. So, make sure you read this article till the end.

Bowling Pin Layouts - How to set up bowling pins

Things to Know about Bowling Pins

Before we learn about the arrangement of a bowling pin set and talk about how to arrange pins manually, we need to learn about bowling pins independently. So let us take a look at some of the things you should know about different kinds of bowling pins.


  • Ten-pin Bowling Pin – A ten-pin bowling pin is 15 inches long, 2.05 inches at the base; at its thickest part, it is 4.75 inches. Both the tip and the base have the exact dimensions.
  • Candlepin Bowling Pin – A candlepin bowling pin is longer than a ten-pin bowling pin, and it is 15.75 inches, 2.1 inches wide at the base, and at its thickest part, it is 2.9 inches lesser in comparison to a ten-pin bowling pin.
  • Five pin or Duckpin Bowling Pin – In terms of length, these are the shortest, only around 9.5 inches, whereas at the base, the thickness is 2.1, and around the thickest part, the width is 4.1 in a duckpin or five-pin bowling pin.


The weight of the bowling pins depends upon which variant of bowling pins we are talking about. So let us look at the different variants and their weights to get a better idea about bowling pins.

  • Ten-pin Bowling Pin – The heaviest in terms of bowling pins is the ten-pin bowling pin. It is 3.3 pounds heavy or in kilograms; it is around 1.5 or 1.6 kg which is heavier than other variants.
  • Candlepin Bowling Pin – These pins are longer but lighter in comparison to ten-pin bowling pins. They are around 2.3 pounds or 1.1 kilograms.
  • Five-pin or Duckpin Bowling Pin – Fivepin or Duckpin bowling pins are the lightest compared to others. They are only around 1.5 pounds or simply .70 kilograms.


Professional bowling pins, whether they are candlepin or ten-pin, are made of the same material. They are made of rock maple wood and then put on a lathe to be shaped according to requirement, smoothened, polished, and marked.

You can see these kinds of bowling pins in your local bowling alleys and even in professional bowling tournaments. However, there are other materials used in making bowling pins as well.

If you are thinking of getting an outdoor bowling green set up, you can find plastic bowling pins for smaller in size and would not cost as much as the real thing but will play quite well.

What Shape Do Pins Make When They are Set Up?

When it comes to the arrangement and setup of the bowling pins at the end of the bowling alley, one thing is for sure. There is a certain pattern that is followed in the setup. When bowling pins are set up in a proper format, they shape an equilateral triangle. There are three pins on either edge of the triangle and more pins in the center. This is why the equilateral triangle shape is associated with the bowling pins.

The reason for this shape to be used in the setup of bowling pins is that the bowling pins are at just the proper distance from each other, allowing the player to knock them. Still, not every time, thus providing challenge and making it hard for the bowler to get all the pins knocked in every try.

How Far is Bowling Pins Placed From One Another?

Another fundamental question that bowling enthusiasts have asked me many times should be known by every bowler. Hence, they make the right shots is. How much is the distance between bowling pins in a particular setup?

Each bowling pin is placed at a distance of 12 inches from the other when measured from the base of the bowling pin exactly. This gives you enough room to make the task of falling all the pins difficult very quickly.

Arrangement of Bowling Pins

The arrangement of the bowling pins at the end of the bowling lane is quite crucial if you want to learn to be a manual pinsetter yourself. Well, what is the arrangement?

We know the shape of a bowling pin setup, but what numbering is used, and how are the bowling pins placed exactly? First, let us take a look at the process of arrangement of bowling pins in a stack.

  • There are four rows from the front to the back of the bowling pin setup stack. Each row of the bowling pins has a different number of pins to make the triangular shape.
  • In the first row, there is only a single bowling pin. On the second, there are 2; on the third row, we have got three bowling pins, and then finally, on the fourth row, we have four bowling pins.
  • The numbering used for assigning an identity to each of the pins is pretty simple. The numbers start from 1 and end on 10 if we are talking about ten-pin bowling.

Number of Pins in a Set

The number of pins in a set is not different most of the time. Even though there are variants of bowling games available, the number of pins in each game is around. The most popular type of bowling, ten-pin bowling, has 10 pins in a single set, but other bowling, including five-pin bowling, can even have 5 pins in a stack setup.

How to set up bowling pins

Although automatic pinsetters are available in most bowling alleys nowadays, if you are interested in learning how to set up bowling pins, that is great because manual pin setting is a dying art. Here is what you will need to do if you want to set up bowling pins with your own hands and do not trust a machine.

Knowing the Distances

When you are thinking of placing bowling pins on your own, you must know all the dimensions and distances you will have to deal with while placing the pins.

First off, you need to know that the distance between each pin needs to be 12 inches from the base. Then you need to know that the distance from the back of the lane to the last row pins is only 3 inches. You also need to be aware that aligned pins are 20 inches away from each other. And that the diagonals of a set have 36 inches of space within it.

Knowing these distances will allow you to place the bowling pins at perfect angles and ensure no displacement occurs. This is crucial to see if you are thinking of manually setting up pins.

Placing the Bowling Pins According to Numbers

Now it is time to place the bowling pins according to the defined layout by PBA. It is not as difficult as you would think. Here is how you can place the bowling pins at the right places:

  • If you are facing the bowling pins and the back of the lane, you will start placing the number one pin in the first row.
  • Then, you will place the number 2 pin on the left side and three on the right side.
  • After that, you will continue placing pins from the left on the third row and place 3, pin 4, 5, and 6 on the third row of the set.
  • Finally, now you are going to place the last four pins in the fourth row. This fourth row will have the 7, 8, 9, and 10th pins placed from left to right to make a triangular set of bowling pins.


In this article, we discussed quite a bit about bowling pins; how they are placed, how far apart they should be, and what should be the weight of the pins. Bowling pin layouts are pretty important when it comes to the basics of bowling. You need to make sure you know all there is to know about bowling to be better at it. I hope you learned a lot from this article and that you will put this newly gained bowling knowledge to good use. Have a great day ahead and a fantastic career in bowling!

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