North American Bowling News

And Yet, Another North American Bowling Variation

Rubberband Duckpins

Some bowlers, especially duckpinners, are probably already familiar with the game of Rubberband Duckpins, while other bowlers may have never even heard of it. Sometimes called 'Rubberducks", this version of duckpin bowling is pretty novel. Instead of three balls per frame, a bowler is only allowed two. Strikes are a lot easier to get, but there is still the potential of hitting the headpin straight on and taking out only the headpin and 5-pin cleanly. Pin action is extremely limited, due to the band around the belly of each pin. Split conversions are rare, because even if you hit a shot good enough to slide it, the rubber band makes it extremely difficult for the pin to travel all the way across the pin deck. If you ever do chop the 1-5 cleanly, you can plan on scoring a maximum of only 6 or 7 for the frame. On the positive side of scoring, strikes are abundant if you hit either pocket, so there is the distinct possibility of rolling a perfect game.

One interesting aspect of the game is the sound, or rather, lack of it. It's almost like watching a silent movie, as the band around each of the pins absorb the impact of the ball and silences any noise.

There are only a few rubberband bowling centers still around in the United States, to this editor's knowledge. Zips Lanes in Johnstown, PA has them, and I've heard there's a center in Pittsburgh, PA, "Glassport Lanes". There's also been mention of "Carrick Recreation Center" near Pittsburgh that is supposed to house the rubberband duckpins, and there's even an alley in Cumberland, MD called Diamond Alleys. Rubberband Duckpins does have quite a following in the French-speaking provinces of Canada (near Quebec). There were some televised events as recent as 1994 for the French Canadian competitions.

A few additional interesting notes about Rubberband Duckpins. The balls used are the same as regulation duckpin balls. Back in the early 1960s, the maximum allowed weight for a ball in the rubberband version was 3 lbs., 8 oz. By the middle of the next decade when the game was really flourishing (mostly in PA), the regulation weight had been increased to 3 lbs. 10 oz. At that time, there were 87 perfect games sanctioned in the official, recorded history of the sport, since the American Rubberband Duckpin Bowling Congress (ARDBC) was established in 1947. The high 3-game set at the time, was 845, rolled in 1966. Just to give an example of the typical scoring of the top players… the top 10 ranked women's averages ranged from 142 to 159, while the male bowlers spanned 177 to 191 for their top 10 bowlers.

It's also fascinating to note that an endurance record for continuous bowling was established and recognized by the ARDBC. Set in 1957, 2 bowlers, Raymond Carolla of Oliver PA, and Dominic Lattore of Uniontown PA took part in a 63 hour, 10 minute marathon, which started at 5:00 pm on April 29th and ended at 8:10 am on May 2nd. The marathon allowed for a 5-minute break in each hour.

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