DuckPin Bowling – All You Need to Know

When it comes to bowling, people worldwide love and enjoy the incredible sport. But there is one unique and entertaining variation of bowling that some people do not know about. This variation is known as duckpin bowling.

You might be wondering, what is Duckpin bowling, how does it work, and why is Duckpin bowling such an amazing sport? That is precisely what I am here to tell you in this fantastic duckpin bowling guide.

In this article, I will talk about Duckpin bowling, the sport’s history, the rules to play the game, and everything in between. I am also going to briefly talk about some of the best world records in the sport of Duckpin bowling so you understand the scale of the following of this sport. So, if you are looking to become a pro or pass your time with duckpin bowling, sit back, relax, and read this article till the end.

DuckPin Bowling

What is Duckpin Bowling?

Duckpin bowling is a variation of conventional bowling primarily played in the east coast region of the United States of America. Overall, it is highly similar to ten-pin bowling, but there are some differences and small form factors for the duckpin bowling equipment.

Duckpin bowling aims to score maximum points in the fewest attempts of duckpin balls being thrown at the pins. The person with the most score at the end of the game is considered the winner.

Although it might not be as popular as ten-pin or regular bowling, it is extremely hard, so most people choose to play the ten-pin bowling sport instead of duckpin bowling.

However, where it exists, it is quite a well-loved sport and can be found extremely important to the American heritage. From entertainment centers to bowling competitions, you will witness duckpin bowling all around the eastern part of the US. With time in other regions, the game is gaining more popularity now.

In my opinion, duckpin bowling is a niche sport compared to other popular sports. It isn’t easy, but people who learn to play it can quickly get around playing different bowling variations. If you think of playing this game, I recommend learning it thoroughly.

History of Duckpin Bowling

The history of Duckpin Bowling is highly debated all around the internet. You will come to see it. According to popular belief, the game was started by two future Hall of Famers, John McGraw, and Wilbert Robinson, for the Baseball team Baltimore Orioles in around the 1900s at a bowling, billiard, and pool hall.

In other citations, the art of duckpin bowling has been around since the late 1800s, and according to research, the sport’s history can be traced back to the 1890s in the cities of Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts.

These articles, threads, and books about duckpin bowling’s history point to one fact. The sport has been around for quite a long time. And over this course of time, there has been slight modernity to the sport. This means it has been in its authentic shape for a large part of history.

That is why the art of duckpin bowling is not as famous as other sports since it has not been modernized to fit the playing style of people around the world. So, if you are thinking of learning the game, you have made the right decision.

Duckpin Bowling vs. Ten-pin Bowling

You might be curious about the main differences between the lanes and equipment used in ten-pin bowling and duckpin bowling to understand how duckpin bowling is different compared to the more popular sport of the two. Well, do not worry, I have got you. Let us look at the differences between duckpin bowling and ten-pin bowling in terms of equipment, dimensions, etc.

candlepin vs duckpin vs ten-pin bowling
Different sizes of balls: duckpin vs candlepin vs ten-pin bowling.

Duckpin Bowling Balls

You might be familiar with the sizeable reactive resin and particle bowling balls with holes. However, those are just limited to ten-pin bowling. The major difference between the two sports is the type of bowling ball used in the games.

In duckpin bowling, the bowling balls are made from rubber or synthetic material, making them much lighter in weight than the larger, heavier, and easier to maneuver balls of ten-pin bowling.

This, in my opinion, is part of why duckpin bowling is more difficult than ten-pin bowling because a lighter, smaller ball is more challenging to get a strike with if you put it against a bigger, heavier ball being thrown at the ten pins in ten-pin bowling.

Are you looking for some DuckPin Bowling Balls? Check out these great balls: Duckpin Bowling Balls.

Duckpin Bowling Balls Dimensions

As we have discussed, the duckpin balls are smaller and lighter, but by how much exactly? Well, duckpin bowling balls are regulated to be from around 4.75 to 5 or so inches in diameter and weigh from 3.5 to 4 pounds which is much smaller (approximately 60%) in comparison to ten-pin bowling balls but a tad bit larger than the balls used in candlepin bowling.

Lack of Holes

Another significant difference in Duckpin bowling balls is the lack of three-finger holes. In conventional bowling, you put three fingers into the ball to hook and curve it on the lane to get all the pins correctly. But in duckpin bowling, there are no holes to begin withYouou need to hold the ball in your hand and throw it instead of guiding it to knock all the pins down.

Duckpin bowling lane length

The lane where you roll down your duckpin bowling ball to knock the duckpins is pretty similar in terms of material. The lane is made of wood and synthetic material, layered with oil to make the surface slick and the friction between the ball and the surface lower.

The dimensions and the duckpin bowling lane length are also quite similar in comparison. With a 41inch width and 60-foot length from the foul line, there is not much that you will see the difference between duckpin and ten-pin bowling lanes.

The sections from the approach dots to the arrowheads and everything in between are similarly placed with 15 feet before the foul line and 15 feet after the foul line.

Gutter Size

The main significant difference between duckpin bowling and ten-pin bowling is the size of the gutters. They are much narrower for duckpin bowling because of the smaller size of the balls. To catch errant balls, the gutters are smaller, which makes it easier to remove misfired balls.

Read more here: What is a Gutter Ball in Bowling?

Bowling Pins

The bowling pins used in duckpin bowling are much more different than your average bowling pins. We know that ten-pin bowling pins are made of synthetic material and are around 15inch tall and heavy.

How many pins in duckpin bowling?

In Duckpin bowling, you use 10 pins like in regular bowling, but the pins in duckpin bowling are much smaller squatter and thinner in comparison. They are mostly 9-9.5inches tall and 4inches wide in terms of diameter.

The bowling pins are placed similarly to the ten-pin bowling pin structure. The pins are placed in an equilateral triangular form, with each pin being given a particular number.

What truly makes the duckpin bowling experience more fruitful and difficult than ten-pin bowling is the small form factor of the pins. It is difficult to get to all of them in one turn, and that’s why duckpin bowling scores are usually lesser when compared to ten-pin bowling scores.

How to Play DuckPin Bowling?

Now that you have learned everything about the lanes and duckpin bowling equipment, you must want to learn how to play the game. If you are familiar with ten-pin bowling, the scoring mechanics are quite similar. However, I will briefly explain the rules and the scoring mechanics of the game so beginners also understand.

You might want to check out these accessories for playing Duckpin bowling: Duckpin Bowling Accessories.

Duckpin Bowling Rules

The rules are fairly like normal bowling. The bowler needs to knock all the pins down in the least amount of shots. At the same time, the bowler needs to avoid contact with the foul line because it will lead to the shot not being counted due to a foul.

Each game will be 10 frames long. And each frame will be considered as one turn. In each frame, in comparison to the two shots per frame in ten-pin bowling, duckpin bowling allows three shots per frame.

After the 10th frame, the total scores of the players will be compared, and the player with the most score in the least amount of shots in the frames will win the match.

The deadwood or the knocked-down pins lying in the lane need to be cleared after each of the shots in every frame to avoid any misfires and ensure fair play for the player. These are the basic rules of duckpin bowling you should be familiar with while playing.

Duckpin Bowling Scoring

Duckpin bowling is a fairly simple game in terms of scoring mechanics. We know that there are 10 frames, and each frame offers 3 individual shots, but how does the scoring system work? Let us take a look at the scoring mechanics of duckpin bowling.

How to get a Strike in Duckpin Bowling

If you get a strike on the first ball of your frame, you will get two shots plus the 10 points you got off the strike for your first frame. The cumulative points of the three shots, including the strike, will be considered the score of your first frame. If you get strikes in all the frames, you will reach the maximum duckpin bowling score- 300.

Getting a Spare

If you cannot get a strike and knock down all the remaining pins in the second shot, you will get a spare. This means that the particular frame you are playing will be scored by 10 plus the score of your next single shot.

Dealing with an Open Frame

If you cannot get a strike or spare, or you can take out all the remaining pins in the third shot of the frame, you’re going to encounter an open frame. In this situation, you will get one point for each individual pin that you knocked down. If you encounter gutters in all three shots, you will get 0 points for that frame.

Read an in-depth article on the topic here: What is a Frame in Bowling?

World Record Setters in Duckpin Bowling

Duckpin bowling is a traditionally tricky variation of bowling. People have tried and made several incredible records to etch their names in history. Let us take a look at some of the best world records in duckpin bowling to get an idea of the incredible bowling skills of professionals.

Perfect Game World Record

The highest duckpin bowling score in a professional bowling game is 279. However, in 2017, an 8-year-old child named Max Kubiak scored 12 consecutive strikes in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, to reach a perfect game milestone in the sport of duckpin bowling which is incredibly amazing and definitely a world record.

Most Duckpin Strikes in One Minute

In 2014, a Canadian named Francis Levine-Croteau achieved the world record for the most duckpin strikes in one minute. He scored approximately 14 strikes in the span of a single minute, which seems humanly impossible. And it is such an amazing record to have.

Most Duckpins knocked in an hour

In 2014, the same professional player, Francis Levine-Croteau, knocked down over 4718 duckpin bowling pins in just an hour in Sainte-Julie, Quebec, Canada, to achieve the world record for the most duckpins knocked in a single hour. This feat is exceptional for the sport.


Duckpin bowling is an utterly amazing spin on the traditional game of ten-pin bowling. It is easier to play and is considered much more entertaining and enjoyable. This sport has been played and enjoyed for quite a while now. Now that you know everything about this epic game, you can play it professionally or pass your free time with your friends and family playing it. I hope you have a great time knocking some duckpins with your loved ones.

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