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What is the future of string pinsetters?

Ed Townsend
Posted 10/15/21

During my travels, I witnessed and bowled on a smaller version of the string pinsetters located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and found that there were problems with the string pinsetters not being …

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What is the future of string pinsetters?


During my travels, I witnessed and bowled on a smaller version of the string pinsetters located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and found that there were problems with the string pinsetters not being able to set the pins in their correct position. A spokesman for the bowling alley told me that they had this problem, and could not get the United States Bowling Congress to approve or sanction any scores bowled on these type of pinsetters.

A news release by the United States Bowling Congress shared data from a comprehensive scoring study of string pinsetters. The reports can be found on BOWL.com/news.

According to the release, “Based off the collective data USBC has seen from the tests to date, a certification for string pinsetters to be used alongside free-fall machines for standard American Tenpins bowling would not be reasonable at this time.”

Although the study found it unreasonable, they followed that statement up by saying that if changes would be made to the machines and data supported string pinsetters compared to American Tenpins bowling, the USBC would consider it in the future.

The release continued, “USBC is investigating the possibility of certifying string pinsetters and string pin bowling as an independent category of equipment and competition, separate from free-fall machines and standard American Tenpins bowling. The USBC Equipment and Specifications team continued its research, completing a series of comparative tests with more than 86,000 shots being made on multiple string pinsetters and free-fall machines.

“The research featured testing using USBC's Bowlscore machine and Enhanced Automated Robotic Launcher (E.A.R.L.) to track pinfall and pin flight, a league simulation, analysis of string types and length, and pin testing.”

Their article included some of the findings from the tests they performed:

“Pinfall is significantly different between free-fall machines and string pinsetters. String lengths and pit-end dimensions play a crucial role in the difficulty of split conversions as well as strike percentages. Scoring is different between the string pinsetters tested. More data is needed to fully understand the variables and how they interact. Several key issues have been identified where lack of standardization has resulted in differences that could be brought together with standardized specifications.

These issues include:

  • String length
  • Pin consistency impact from drilling/affixing string
  • Curtain/backstop - layout in the pit in pin deck
  • Split-conversion percentage
  • String tension

An important note from the release is that, “String pinsetters currently are non-approved equipment and may not be used in USBC-certified competition, including USBC-certified leagues and tournaments.”

Ed’s Outlook

In our feature story on Kiamesha Lanes being sold as a new site for a commercial supermarket, it does not surprise me because of the fact that the bowling community has made such dramatic changes in the past number of years that there just isn't the same number of bowlers, and bowling lanes have suffered in revenue. When looking at the total number of league bowlers compared to 10 years ago, it is clear how much has changed.

The bowling industry has made many changes in the style, and size of, bowling establishments, and the new style bowling alley is much different and offers so much more for entertainment. We're sorry to see Kiamesha Lanes close, but there are many reasons why. In the next few weeks we will try to answer those questions.

Bowling Tip by Mike Luongo

Repeating a good bowling shot requires bowlers to release the ball the same way shot after shot.

This week, we will talk about the release and offer information that will help bowlers of all levels.

A properly executed release is possibly one of the most understood parts of a bowling shot. Most bowlers want to muscle the ball through the release zone, and they do this by accelerating or decelerating on the downswing.

The proper release for all bowlers is executed by letting gravity bring the ball from the top of the swing through the release zone with no interference from your arm or shoulder muscles.

If the ball fits properly, the gravity will take it off your hand at the right time providing your body is in the proper position. Any rotation on the ball should come from your hand only, not your arm.

Using the proper technique will allow you to get as much rotation on the ball as desired.

When your bowling ball does not fit properly, this is where it will require excessive grip pressure to hold on to the ball, which will make the release harder to execute.

Gravity can be your best friend, or worst enemy, depending on how you use it.


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