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Bowling Lane Arrows


If you are a beginning bowler trying to learn more about the bowling lane arrows, a good way to start is to first understand where the bowling lane arrows are located in reference to the pins on the pin-deck and to the dots on the approach.

The arrows, or rangefinders, are guides located about 15 feet past the foul line toward the pins and are in a triangular configuration. The arrows are also commonly referred to as "dovetails." From bowler's right to left (for right handed bowlers), the arrow nearest the edge of the lane is referred to as the "first arrow" and is located on the 5 board of the lane surface, about 5 inches from the edge of the lane.

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Continuing to the bowler's left, the next arrow is the "second arrow" which is located on the 10 board. The "third arrow" is located on the 15 board, the "fourth arrow", or center arrow, is located on the 20 board, "the fifth arrow" on the 25 board, and so on. The arrows are symmetrically placed on the lane. A reverse reference system is recommended for left handed bowlers.

The 4th arrow (center arrow) is aligned exactly on the same board as is the head pin on the pin-deck about 60 feet from the foul line and also with the largest of the dot located just behind the foul line at the beginning of the lane bed. The 3rd arrow, to the right of the 4th arrow (right handed bowlers), lines up with the 3 pin on the pin-deck and with the dot to the right of the center dot on the approach, and so on across the lane. The seven dots on the approach behind the foul line align precisely with the arrows on the lane and with the front pins of a full rack of pins on the pin-deck.

The arrows are primarily intended for alignment purposes when targeting a given pin combination on the pin-deck. Generally speaking, it is easier to take dead aim at a target closer to you than at a target in the distance. Since the arrows are only about 15 feet from where you slide on the approach, it makes sense to use an intermediate target, the arrows, when sighting with your eyes rather than staring way down the lane near or at the pins.

When coaches teach a student the proper posture or body position by which to release the bowling ball, sighting the arrows is much easier than sighting the pins. bowlingball.com recommends all new bowlers consult a local certified bowling instructor to help you learn about using successful alignment techniques so your path to progress happens quickly.

Some advanced bowlers sight beyond the arrows or before the arrows, such as directly down at the foul line or down the lane in front of the pins. It is generally recognized, however, that using the arrows as an intermediate target works nicely for the vast majority of bowlers. In fact, most professional and top-flight amateur bowlers use the arrows as a targeting system.

The maintenance team at any given bowling center typically sets up the lane oiling machine to apply the heaviest concentration of oil on the front end of the lane between the foul line up to a distance perhaps of 20 feet (just beyond the distance where the 4th arrow is located) and across the lane between the 2nd arrow and the 6th arrow (the 10th board from both edges of the lane). In this case, it is suggested that a bowler will align his strike ball delivery to the pocket in such a way as to roll the bowling ball toward the second arrow with an appropriate angle from the release point just beyond the foul line as to allow the ball to continue down the lane to the pocket.

The 2nd arrow is a good place for an initial alignment but it is not necessarily the correct board to sight when targeting the pins. You may have to use a board located to the right or to the left of the 2nd arrow and make the correct adjustment in order to roll your ball and contact the pocket depending on your type of delivery, the speed you roll your bowling ball, the ball surface and the given bowling ball you select.


The process of alignment is often made easy by use of the targeting arrows. We hope this information helps you understand the use of the bowling lane arrows.

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