Everything You need to Know about Bowling Lane Arrows

Bowling lane arrows

Did you notice the arrows on the bowling lane? They aren’t there for no reason. So do you know what is the purpose of bowling lane arrows? Well, if you don’t, fear not, We have got your back. Learning how to make the best out of the bowling lane arrows is an excellent step to improving your target strategies and accuracy— for knocking down bowling pins for strikes or spares. When you know more about how to use these bowling arrows, you will understand the “lane geometry” better and that will eventually contribute to your better bowling performance. So without further ado, let’s get started.

What are the Arrows on a Bowling Lane?

Do you know where the foul line is? Great! Now, look carefully. You will see there is a line of dots within a 6ft distance from the foul line. Then you will notice there is another set of indicators placed on your bowling lane. But instead of dots, they are arrows. These arrows are located exactly 15ft from the foul line. So why are they placed there? Once I asked a newbie kid who goes to my usual bowling center. The kid thought they are just there to indicate the bowling ball is going toward the pins. How silly! Later I told him why are they here.

Some bowlers aim their shot by focusing on the pins and some focus on a particular arrow. When you learn to use the bowling lane arrows properly, you can target better and you will know precisely where you want to throw the ball. These arrows work as a support to get the bowling ball going in the right direction.

Generally, a bowling lane is 42 inches wide that contains 40 narrow boards. Although most pro bowlers rely on the bowling arrows for better aim and shot, some bowlers depend on some specific boards. Remember, your bowling ball travels a 60 feet distance. Anything can go wrong if you don’t aim properly. If you place your ball an inch or more from where it needs to during the ball release, it will turn out to be multiple pins still standing instead of a smooth strike. You will also fail to pick up a potential spare if you don’t use the lane arrows the way they should be used.

How many arrows are on a bowling lane?

There are exactly 7 arrows positioned symmetrically on the bowling ball boards—  5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 respectively. The bowling arrows are there as reference targets. If you have been bowling for a while now, then you will know you can also set out your target between two arrows, meaning, the boards.

The bowling lane arrow you see nearest the edge is called the “first arrow”. It is located right on the 5 board of the bowling lane surface, meaning, it is about 5″ from the edge of the lane. The next arrow is referred to as the “second arrow” and it is located on the 10 board, continuing to the left (bowler’s left). Then we have the “third arrow”, located on the 15 board. The “fourth arrow” is the center arrow and it is placed right in the middle of the lane on the 20 board. On the 25 board, you will find the “fifth arrow”, then on the 30 board, there is the “sixth arrow”, and lastly on the 35 board, you will see the final “seventh arrow”. For left-handed bowlers, it is recommended to use the reverse reference system.

How do you bowl with arrows?

Yes, I’m repeating again and again that you should bowl with the help of the arrows. So how do you do that? The first thing to know is where you should stand and then what do you aim at. The untrained bowlers usually pick up the bowling balls and walk towards the pins while looking at the pins. This means they aim at the pins to roll the balls. But how accurate or satisfactory the shots are? Well, not much, honestly.

So, what you should do is use the markings on the lane. Select your target arrow and do not look at the pins when you’re approaching to release your ball. Position yourself properly on the foot markers of the approach area. Then you should aim at the targeting arrow. After you have set your target, walk forward and lift the ball aiming at the target arrow. By aiming, I mean, you have to roll the ball on that particular target arrow. Right before you let go of the ball, come up in a shake-hand position with rotation. This will make the ball break toward the pins and enter the pockets.

The head targeting arrow lines perfectly with the one pin, the third targeting arrow lines perfectly with the three-pin, the second arrow with the six-pin, the first with the ten-pin, and so on with the others. If you’re a right-handed bowler, aiming for strikes, you’re more likely to roll your balls over the 10 board/second arrow (from the bowler’s left). If you’re a left-handed player, then your ideal target arrow will be 30 board/sixth arrow (also from the bowler’s left). For straight strikers, the head arrow (20 board/middle arrow) should be your target arrow. When you’re to pick up the spares, make sure your ball rolls straight over the arrow that aligns with the remaining sanding pin.

How long are the arrows on a bowling lane?

The arrows of the bowling lanes have a triangular configuration. In most bowling lanes, they are isosceles triangles. The base of the triangles (the width) should not exceed 1.25″, and the height of the triangles should not be more than 6″ long.


Bowling arrows, commonly known as darts or dovetails are great indicators if you want your ball to go exactly where you aim for. If you don’t know how to use these arrows, it’s time you do! You will see a significant change in your bowling performance. It’s always wise to know about the sports you’re into through and through. So make the best out of the bowling lane arrows and never miss any strikes or spares on your next games!


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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