Sports 4 The Blind

Chapter 5, Section A

The Bowling Lane

     The bowling lane, or total playing area is constructed of maple and hard pine woody or other materials which have been tested and approved. Prior to the approval for synthetic lanes in the early 1970's, -all bowling lanes were constructed of wood.

     The wood utilized was normally 1&1/4" X 3" boards, tongue and grooved to insure a solid fit, and nailed together. To facilitate construction, lanes were built vertically, then laid over to provide the surface that meets the eyes. Individuals are looking at the narrow side of boards that are at least 3" thick. A typical bowling lane is 41 to 42" wide, and 62 feet, 10 & 3/16" long from the foul line to the pit (underneath pins) with an approach area of at least 15 feet.

     After basic construction and alignment, the lanes are sanded and a durable finish applied to protect the wood. The sanding process must produce a surface that is free of gouges and grooves and leveled to a tolerance of 40/1000. The sanding of a wooden surface is a periodic requirement to maintain the surface as required by USBC.

     The synthetic surfaces, in most current applications, are applied on top of existing wooden surfaces that have become too thin to resurface. The installation of these surfaces usually requires the leveling of the wooden surface and installation of a sub-surface suitable for the application of a substance to hold the synthetic surface. The new synthetic lanes are usually glued to the sub-surface in sections. All sections are suitably marked to resemble the wooden surface they are replacing.

     A new installation of the synthetic surface would require the construction of the basic framework for the wooden lane, plus some appropriate surface for the installation of the new substance.

     The bowling area is separated by markings and designated for their purpose. The front portion on the spectator end of the lane is called "THE APPROACH AREA". This area must be at least 15 feet in length, measuring back from the foul line (the black line cutting across the lane) towards the spectators. Some lanes have a bit more, but regulations call for a minimum of 15 feet.

     The "BOWLING LANE". begins on the approach side of the foul line and extends 60 feet towards the far end, ending at the center of the head pin (pin nearest bowler). The area from the center of the headpin to the end of the playing surface is called the "PINDECK" and is where the pins are set. On wooden lanes, this area could be of wood (usually maple), or some synthetic substance to withstand the constant pounding of the machinery and falling pins.

     This area is 2 feet, 10 3/16" long, measured from the center of the headpin to the end of the lane. This does not include the plank used to close off the end of the lane which is called the tailplank. The total required length of the bowling area is 78 feet and 3/16 inch. This does not include space for score tables, or bowlers benches, only the playing area.


     The equipment used in the game of bowling appears to be simple, but the manufacture, installation and maintenance demand precise measurements and careful handling. Bowlers should become familiar with the standards established for the equipment to fully appreciate the complexity of the game. Such understanding will also assist beginners in developing their proficiency as they proceed through the various levels of instruction and skill.

     The specifications for all bowling equipment are established and checked by the United States Bowling Congress. This consists of inspection at installation as well as annual inspection thereafter by the USBC representative to ensure proper maintenance of equipment. Verification of the inspection is the seal of approval issued by USBC and is displayed by each certified bowling establishment. This assures bowlers that the equipment in use is the same specifications in each establishment that they might use.

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