Not surprisingly, a large majority of people already know that bowling is where you roll a ball down a lane, knock down some pins, and score points. Once known as a gambling game right alongside "pool," it has become so ingrained in our society that people already know a lot of the terminology without having participated in the sport.
Let's take a look at some basic bowling terminology that the beginning bowler can learn quickly and easily. These are terms to make you sound like you know what you're doing the next time you go bowling with your family or friends. (Keep in mind, though, that you may be able to "talk-the-talk" but unless you have practiced, you may not be able to "walk-the-walk.") You have been forewarned:
The place where you go to bowl, besides being called bowling lanes, are also known as the "center," the "alley," or the "house" interchangeably.
Lane Approach - the "approach" is the physical area you walk on. It begins adjacent to the ball returns and ends at the foul line. It is generally 15 feet long. There are two demarcation lines and dots that aid the bowler in lining up their position.
Bowling Approach - your walk, or "approach," to deliver the ball onto the lane.
Arrows (target arrows, mark) - positioned 15 feet down the lane from the foul line, the "arrows" are actually triangular arrowheads. There are seven of them equally spaced five boards apart.
Automatic Ball Returns - Between each pair of lanes (lanes 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6, etc.), running underground; the bowling ball is picked up from the back of the lane and returned to the bowlers.
Automatic Scorekeepers - generically, "the computer," or "automatic scorers." Displayed on screens above the approaches, computers keep a person's score.
Boards - the bowling lane is 43 inches in width from channel to channel (gutter to gutter) and is comprised of 1 inch boards.
Bumpers or rails - side railings that can be raised for younger kids in order that the ball doesn't constantly go in the gutter (channel) thereby resulting in a score of zero. Established bowling centers will manually raise them while newer centers enable the automatic scorers to be programmed so they are automatically raised and lowered.
Foul Line - the dark strip that divides the approach from the actual playing surface of the lane. If a bowler goes beyond this line or touches anything beyond this line, the ball that was thrown is declared a "dead" ball and scores as a zero. When participating in league or tournament competition, an automatic sensor is turned on and an indicator light with a audible buzzer signals the foul..
Gutters or channel - these are the darker colored grooves on each side of the actual lane. They are usually a darker gray in color and run the entire length of the lane. When the ball enters the gutter, it is considered as out-of-play so will be a dead ball.
Pinsetters or pinspotters - the machinery at the far end of each lane that sets up the pins in a triangular pattern.
Again, this is a short list just to get the beginner started because there is much, much more terminology. The more you go bowling, the more terms you will learn. Good Luck and Good Bowling!