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How To Use The Bowling Arrows


Learning how to use the bowling arrows is a big step to improving accuracy and targeting the pocket or spares. A good way to begin is to first understand where the arrows are located in reference to the pins on the pin-deck and to the dots on the approach. By knowing a little about the "lane geometry", you will more easily understand how to use the bowling arrows.

The arrows are 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.

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, the "sixth arrow" on the 30 board, and the final "seventh arrow" on the 35 board. The arrows are symmetrically placed on the lane. Using 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 and the five 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, 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 in the distance. Since the bowling arrows are only about 15 feet from where you slide on the approach at the foul line at the moment you deliver the bowling ball, it makes sense to use the intermediate target at the bowling arrows when sighting with your eyes rather than staring way down the lane 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. Of course, there are bowlers who 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 in the vast majority of cases. 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.

If a bowler rolls a perfectly straight ball delivery with no curve or hook, then the ball should be released just beyond the foul line on about the 7 or 8 board, roll over the 2nd arrow (10 board), and continue toward the pocket which is located on the 17.5 board at the pin-deck.

If a straight ball is delivered from the 10 board at release, crosses the 2nd arrow, and heads down the lane, the ball will not contact the head pin or the pocket but rather contact the 6 pin or perhaps the 3 and 6 pins. For this reason, and angle to the 2nd arrow from the release point beyond the foul line, say from about the 7 or 8 board, is necessary in order for the bowling ball to contact the pocket when delivered with no hooking motion. Naturally, a left handed bowler will reference boards on the lane from left to right.

If a bowler rolls a slight curve or hook delivery, then the ball should contact the lane just beyond the foul line on about the 12 or 13 board, roll over the 2nd arrow, and then the ball will change directions about two-thirds of the way down the lane at the break point and head toward the pocket located at the 17.5 board.

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Bowlers using a reverse hook delivery, also known as a back-up ball delivery, should take a greater angle to the 2nd arrow such as releasing the ball beyond the foul line on about the 5 board, roll over the 2nd arrow and continue to the pocket. It is not recommended to use a back-up ball delivery and most professional coaches will work with a bowler to make the change to a conventional hook delivery so a more appropriate angle of entry to the pocket is created which will result in improved pin carry.

Bowlers with a strong release creating a good deal of hook should take a wider angle to the 2nd arrow to allow for the ball to contact 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, and the ball surface and core construction you select.

The process of alignment is very geometric and matches nicely with use of the bowling arrows. bowlingball.com recommends you consult certified coach or a bowling professional for more information on alignment. We hope these tips help you understand the use of the bowling arrows!

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