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-Myth vs. Reality - Pins: Part II

12/28/2000 - Bowling Newsline

Myth: Pins fly faster today.
Reality: Bowling pins fly both faster and slower today because there are more factors at work than just the pin.

      The speed at which a pin "flies" is related to several factors. A pin's weight and construction play a factor as does the speed and construction of a bowling ball. It's common to assume that pins fly faster today because the construction makes the pin fly more lively. However this assumption is a myth. While the construction of a pin has changed over the years, the pin's physical properties have not.

      Let's compare a traditional, solid maple pin of the 1940s and 1950s with the current laminated wood, nylon-coated pin of today. The required weight of the pin has increased in the last 50 years. But more important to the discussion is a physical property known as the coefficient of restitution (COR.)

      This property measures the ability of an object to transfer energy. Low COR means a low transfer of energy while a high COR means a high transfer. This factor is critical in determining the speed at which pins will "fly."

      Based on scientific studies conducted in the ABC/WIBC Research Laboratory in Greendale, Wis., the COR of a solid maple pin is virtually identical to the current approved nylon-coated pins. Thus the transfer of energy from the bowling ball to the pin has gone virtually unchanged since the maple pins was used.

      In light of these facts, why does the public perception persist that pins fly fast today? A number of factors play into this. First, there are very few bowlers old enough who bowled against solid maple pins, so its an accepted belief of the old-timers who remember the good old days. Second, the playing environment has changed. With new bowling ball technology and lane maintenance procedures, today bowlers can throw the ball at a much higher speed and still achieve a steep angle of attack to the pins.

      This increased ball speed naturally increases the speed of the pin from the collision. Finally, wood pins were not very durable. The pins deteriorated and became "mushy" at the point of impact, thus lowering the speed at which they traveled after impact.

      The moral of this story is that pins may fly faster today. It sis not because of changes to the bowling pin, but other factors in the System of Bowling.

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