what is a turkey in bowling?

What Is A Turkey In Bowling? Unraveling The Three-Strike Phenomenon

Bowling is a sport that has enthralled enthusiasts for decades, offering a unique blend of skill & strategy. While the game itself may appear straightforward, there exists a specialized terminology that adds depth to the experience.

One such term is the “turkey,” a phrase commonly used among bowlers to denote a notable achievement. In this article, we will scout into the compelling world of bowling and untangle the mystery behind what exactly a “turkey” is.

Understanding this concept will enhance your appreciation for the skill and precision required to excel in the sport.

What Is A Turkey In Bowling?

A “turkey” refers to the accomplishment of three consecutive strikes by a bowler during a single bowling game. It is considered a significant achievement in the sport and is often celebrated. The term originated from a tradition in the early 1900s where bowling alleys would reward bowlers with a live turkey for achieving this feat. While the live turkey prize is no longer common, the term “turkey” remains synonymous with three consecutive strikes in bowling.

Origins of the Term (Why Is It Called Turkey?)

The origins of the term “turkey” in relation to bowling can be traced back to the early 1900s in the United States.

During this time, bowling was gaining popularity as a recreational activity and sport.

Bowling alleys sought creative ways to attract more players and keep them engaged. One such approach was to offer prizes or rewards to bowlers who achieved a notable feat.

In some bowling alleys, it became a tradition to reward a bowler who threw three strikes in a row with a live turkey. This practice added excitement and an element of competition to the game, as bowlers aimed to achieve the coveted turkey.

The live turkey prize became synonymous with the accomplishment, and the term “turkey” was coined to represent three consecutive strikes in a game.

As the popularity of bowling continued to grow, the tradition of offering live turkeys as rewards began to fade.

Bowling alleys transitioned to other forms of recognition, such as plaques, trophies, or simply acknowledging the accomplishment as achieving a “turkey.”

However, the term itself remained ingrained in the bowling lexicon, representing a remarkable achievement and a milestone for bowlers to strive for.

Today, the term “turkey” is widely used and understood in bowling circles, connecting modern bowlers to the fascinating historical roots of the sport.

Understanding the Achievement

Understanding the achievement of a “turkey” in bowling requires recognizing the skill and consistency required to accomplish this feat.

In bowling, a strike refers to knocking down all ten pins with a single ball.

Achieving three consecutive strikes, or a turkey, demonstrates a high level of accuracy, precision, and control over the bowling technique. It showcases a bowler’s ability to consistently deliver powerful and well-aimed shots.

The achievement of a turkey is not only a testament to a bowler’s physical prowess but also their mental focus and strategic decision-making.

It involves maintaining composure and executing the shots with confidence and precision.

Bowlers must adjust their approach, release, and targeting to consistently hit the pocket—the ideal area between the 1 and 3 pins for right-handed bowlers or the 1 and 2 pins for left-handed bowlers.

Additionally, understanding lane conditions, oil patterns, and adapting the game plan accordingly further enhances the chances of achieving a turkey.

Overall, a turkey is a remarkable accomplishment that showcases a bowler’s skill, adaptability, and ability to perform under pressure.

Technique and Skill

Achieving a turkey in bowling requires a combination of technique, skill, and consistency. The bowler’s technique plays a crucial role in delivering accurate and powerful shots.

A consistent and repeatable approach, which includes footwork, arm swing, and release, is essential for achieving consistent strikes.

Bowlers often work on refining their technique through practice and coaching to ensure their shots have the optimal combination of speed, rotation, and angle.

Furthermore, precision in targeting is a key aspect of the technique.

The ability to consistently hit the pocket, the optimal entry point for maximum pin carry, increases the likelihood of achieving strikes.

Bowlers must adjust their aim based on lane conditions, oil patterns, and the movement of the ball as it travels down the lane. Making these adjustments with precision requires a deep understanding of the sport and the ability to make split-second decisions.

Developing the necessary skill set for achieving a turkey involves hours of practice and honing various aspects of the game.

This includes mastering spare shooting techniques to minimize open frames and maintain a high strike percentage.

Additionally, mental focus and concentration are crucial, as they enable bowlers to stay in the present moment, block out distractions, and execute shots with confidence.

Skillful bowlers also possess a strategic mindset, analyzing the lane conditions and making calculated adjustments throughout the game to maximize their chances of achieving consecutive strikes.

Celebrating the Turkey

Achieving a turkey in bowling is a cause for celebration and excitement among bowlers and the bowling community.

It represents a significant accomplishment that showcases the player’s skill and consistency.

Celebrations often begin with immediate reactions of joy, including shouts of triumph, high-fives, or fist pumps. The bowler’s teammates and fellow competitors often join in the celebration, acknowledging the achievement and offering congratulations.

Bowling alleys may have their own traditions and customs to commemorate a turkey.

Some establishments ring bells or sound horns to announce the accomplishment, drawing attention to the bowler’s achievement and creating a festive atmosphere.

Additionally, fellow bowlers may offer applause and words of praise to honor the bowler’s exceptional performance.

The celebration of a turkey creates a sense of togetherness and shared excitement within the bowling community, promoting a supportive and encouraging environment.

Beyond the immediate celebration, achieving a turkey often leads to a sense of pride and accomplishment for the bowler.

It can be a personal milestone, representing progress in one’s bowling journey and validating the time and effort invested in developing skills.

Bowlers may share their achievement with friends, family, or social media networks, receiving further recognition and support.

The turkey serves as a symbol of success and serves as a motivating factor to continue improving and reaching for even greater bowling achievements.

Turkey vs. Other Bowling Achievements

When discussing bowling achievements, the term “turkey” stands out as one of the most recognized and celebrated milestones in the sport. However, it’s important to understand how a turkey compares to other notable bowling achievements.

One such term is the “hambone,” which refers to four consecutive strikes in a game.

While achieving a hambone is an impressive feat, it goes beyond the turkey by adding an extra strike to the consecutive streak.

Another term to consider is the “four-bagger,” which denotes four consecutive strikes as well. The four-bagger is synonymous with the hambone and goes beyond the turkey by including an additional strike.

Both the hambone and the four-bagger showcase a bowler’s consistency and skill, extending the consecutive streak beyond the three strikes of a turkey.

While the turkey, hambone, and four-bagger represent spectacular accomplishments, they all share a common thread of consecutive strikes. Each term highlights the bowler’s ability to deliver precise shots and maintain consistency throughout a game.

Ultimately, whether it’s a turkey, hambone, or four-bagger, each accomplishment showcases the bowler’s dedication, technique, and talent in the captivating world of bowling.

Tips for Striving for a Turkey

Striving for a turkey in bowling requires a combination of skill, technique, and mental focus. Here are a few tips to enhance your chances of achieving this impressive accomplishment.

First, practice your spare shooting skills. While the focus is on strikes for a turkey, converting spares is equally important in maintaining momentum and minimizing open frames.

Develop a consistent spare shooting technique and practice it regularly to improve your spare conversion rate.

Second, pay attention to lane conditions and make necessary adjustments.

Lane conditions can change throughout a game, affecting ball reaction and pin carry.

Stay observant and adapt your line, speed, and release to accommodate the changing conditions. Experiment with different angles and target points to find the most effective approach for each shot.

Lastly, maintain mental composure and focus.

The pressure of aiming for a turkey can be intense, but it’s crucial to stay calm and centered.

Practice techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and positive self-talk to manage nerves and maintain focus. Stay in the present moment, block out distractions, and trust in your abilities.

Confidence in your skills and mental resilience can greatly contribute to achieving a turkey in bowling.

Achieving a turkey requires practice, patience, and perseverance. Keep refining your technique, adapt to different lane conditions, and maintain a strong mental game.

With consistent effort and dedication, you can increase your chances of experiencing the thrill of achieving a turkey in bowling.

What is 12 strikes in a row called?

In the world of bowling, achieving 12 consecutive strikes in a row is a remarkable accomplishment known as a “perfect game” or a “300 game”.

It is the pinnacle of success and represents the highest level of skill and precision in the sport.

In a perfect game, a bowler must knock down all ten pins with each of their twelve shots, resulting in a score of 300, the highest possible score in a single game.

The perfect game is a rare attainment that requires exceptional focus, consistency, and mastery of the bowling technique.

It demands not only a high level of physical skill but also mental fortitude to maintain composure and execute each shot with precision. Bowlers must be able to make accurate adjustments to their line, speed, and release as lane conditions change throughout the game.

Achieving a perfect game is often regarded as a crowning achievement in a bowler’s career. It is a testament to their dedication, years of practice, and relentless pursuit of excellence.

The accomplishment of a perfect game brings a sense of pride, accomplishment, and validation for the countless hours invested in refining one’s skills.

It also holds a special place in the bowling community, with bowlers and spectators alike recognizing and celebrating the rare and extraordinary achievement of 12 consecutive strikes in a row.


Understanding the achievement of a turkey requires recognizing the technique and skill required to accomplish it.

Achieving a turkey demonstrates a bowler’s ability to consistently deliver accurate and powerful shots, as well as their strategic decision-making and adaptability to changing lane conditions.

It represents a significant accomplishment that generates excitement and celebration among bowlers and their peers.

Bowling achievements like the turkey, hambone, four-bagger, and even the elusive perfect game reflect the dedication and talent of bowlers.

Each milestone represents a different level of consecutive strikes and serves as motivation for bowlers to push their skills to new heights.

Striving for a turkey involves refining spare shooting techniques, making lane adjustments, and maintaining mental focus. Bowling a turkey ultimately symbolizes the pursuit of excellence in the delightful and timeless sport of bowling.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *