Buildinbg a Set of Fowling Lanes

Fowling the Football-Bowling Tailgate GameThe game of Fowling, the football bowling tailgate game, is extremely well suited for the parking lot or camp ground. One of the best tailgate games to come out in recent years, Fowling matches are beginning to surface all over the country as this tailgate game idea is beginning to catch on. The following is a general description of how to play the game of Fowling. For more information on the rules and regulations of this tailgate game, check out our page on the Official Rules and Regulations governing Fowling play here.

A Fowling Match pits two teams against each other, both competing to knock down all of their opponent's bowling pins using a full-sized, regulation NFL football. Matches can be setup for singles or doubles play, as players use pin-point accurate passing to throw the football 48 feet to their opponent's Fowling lane. Each match begins with a coin-toss to determine which team throws first. The winner of the coin toss may decide to either to take the first throw or choose which Fowling lane they wish to defend.

Each team alternates throwing the football at their opponent's bowling pins, which are setup on a Fowling lane in the standard 10-pin bowling configuration at a distance of 48 feet. Players for each team also alternate throws. Play continues, until one team has knocked down all ten pins resulting in a frame victory. Fowling matches are a best of three frame series to win the match.

  Fowling Lanes Setup

If the first team to throw knocks down all of their opponent's pins first, they've actually benefited from one additional throw. To ensure that both teams have the opportunity to knock down their opponent's pins with the same number of throws, an Equalizer Throw is awarded to allow the team with one less throw to attempt to force overtime. If they succeed in knocking down their opponent's remaining pins with this throw, the frame is considered a tie and overtime begins. (see Overtime)


Overtime is a sudden death, single pin knockdown. Each team places a single pin on any bowling pin position marked on the fowling lane, for their opponent to throw at. Again, a simple coin toss decides which team throws first, and the first team to knock down the overtime pin wins the frame. There is no Equalizer throw for the opposing team during the overtime period.

Match Play

Match play consists of a best for three series, with the victorious team winning two of three frames. Winning by two frames is not required in match play.


Fowling Lanes Throwing AreaThe Official Field of Play is the space between the outer edges of the fowling lanes, which spans indefinitely in both directions.

Traditionally, men throw from a position behind the back edge of their Fowling lane, called the Throwing area. The Throwing area extends indefinitely in both directions. This imaginary line that extends along the back edge of the fowling lane is called the foul line. As long as a player releases the ball from behind the foul line, a legal throw is made. The Throwing area for Women & children is located just behind the front edge of their team's Fowling lane. A football that is tossed by a player that has stepped over the foul line is known as a foul throw. A foul throw results in the loss of a turn and any pins that fall, as a result of the foul throw, must be returned to their original standing position.

Any pins that fall during regular game play, are to be removed from the platform after all pin movement has stopped. This includes any pins that might be knocked down as a result of environmental factors such as wind, inclement weather, earthquakes, of influences outside of the game such as the actions of other fans. These unintentional knock-downs, outside of game play, count as legitimate downed pins. A pin that is intentionally knocked down, outside of game play, will be immediately returned to its standing position.

Defensive Strategies

Fowling Defensive PlayTeams are within their rights, and may step out of the throwing area, to defend their pins from an unintentional knock-down. Teams are not to interfere with footballs being thrown fairly by the opposing team during regular game play. No team member may touch or move pins during game play until all motion on the field of play stops. If the ball is thrown or rolls outside the area of play, and then re-enters, the ball is considered in play.

Players are not to make contact with the ball until it crosses the foul line. Once a ball thrown by their opponent has crossed the foul line, players are within their rights to catch or deflect the ball to defend their pins. This must be done, however, only from within the throwing area. Crossing into the field of play to defend their pins is not allowed until all pin movement has ceased.  A foul throw may be awarded to your opponent for crossing into the field of play prior to all pin movment coming to a complete stop.

Breaking any rules will immediately result in a foul throw by the opposing team. During a foul throw, men throw from the women & children's position and women & children may throw from a distance 8 feet in front of their original position. The team that was awarded the foul throw is also given the ball back. Either player on the team awarded the foul throw may throw, regardless of what order they are in during regular game play.

For more information on the rules see the Official Rules and Regulations of Fowling.