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“Small Ball” bowling is a general term for the many variations of bowling in the world that use a bowling ball that is smaller than the conventional ‘tenpin’ ball that you tend to think of, when someone mentions the word “bowling”.
The "Back Alley"TM unit from North American Bowling is a regulation-width bowling lane, using genuine pins and balls from various small ball bowling variations, including “Duckpins”, “English Skittles”, “Canadian Fivepins”, and “Rubberband Duckpins (a/k/a “Rubberducks”). What this translates to, is that with a lane that is the same width as a real bowling lane, with real pins, spaced apart to the exact specs of the rules of the game, along with real bowling balls, "Back Alley" mimics a very close reproduction to the actual bowling experience, if you were to visit a bowling alley dedicated to duckpins, skittles, etc.
Small ball bowling is a challenging version of bowling. In Duckpin bowling, a ball can hit directly on the front pin (headpin), and drive it straight back, taking out the front pin and in some cases, only the one behind it (the #5 pin). This then leaves a gap between 2 adjacent pins on the same flank (or row), such as the #2 and #3 pins, in which a ball can roll between this gap without hitting anything. In English Skittles, it can be even more of a challenge, as a ball can be slightly left or right of center, and roll between the pin configuration, sometimes missing everything -- so, in general, accuracy is important in “small ball” bowling.
Because the ball is smaller and very manageable with its weight, there is a wide assortment of people that could benefit from a “Back Alley” unit:
Shown here: A “Back Alley” bowling lane (without gutters)
“Back Alley” is unique. And things that are different tend to draw attention. With your business name displayed across the front of a “Back Alley” unit at your place of business (provided you have room for it), or at a public get-together, people are sure to see your business name advertised on the unit, as shown in the picture to the right. This photo was taken at a fundraiser for animal awareness (“Paws for Celebration” in Shady Grove, PA), promoting “Roger Rover Pet Care”.
“Skittles” is a European small ball bowling variation that is played in England and Ireland, primarily. It is hugely popular as a game played in pubs, but also there are many clubs that convene to partake in Skittles. (Skittles is ranked the #2 indoor recreational game in England -- 2nd only to “Darts”).
“Skittles” has many game variations, a lot of which are played in 5 frame segments, instead of the 10 frames of American bowling. Skittles is mainly a team participation sport, and with so many game variations, it is a tremendous attraction and natural outlet for forming leagues. And because of its low-scoring nature, in many cases, forming teams is nothing more than choosing up sides, much like a ‘pick-up’ playground basketball or baseball game. This would be a tremendous activity for groups at a senior citizens center, or even a weekly bar/pub get-together.
A young man playing “Skittles”
An English “Skittles” alley