Bowling PAP or Positive Axis Point


Bowling PAP
Knowing your bowling PAP will help your pro shop drill your new ball perfectly for you.

To bowl your absolute best, you need to have a bowling ball that is your proper weight and also drilled correctly. The drilling needs to be customized for you. This is accomplished by finding a professional driller who drills a ball according to the individual’s PAP, and not just from the label.

Finding your correct PAP takes some work. First, you need to understand a little bowling terminology:

First, what exactly is a bowling PAP? PAP is defined as the point on the bowling ball that is equidistant from all points of the ball’s track. The PAP’s distance from the pin of the bowling ball will dictate the amount of track flare your ball will encounter and the amount of energy your ball will release. These both influence the hook potential of your ball. Most power players prefer their pin to be between 5 and 6 inches from their PAP.

Next, you need to know where your bowling ball pin is. When we talk about the pin of a bowling ball, we are not talking about the pins at the end of the lane you knock over. A bowling ball pin is a little notch on the bowling ball that points to the top of the core that is in your ball. The core of the bowling ball gets suspended inside the mold used to make your ball. This core needs to be centered perfectly inside this mold. In order to center the core inside the ball mold, a pin is used. Once the mold has hardened, and the core cannot move inside, the pin is removed. This leaves a small hole in the ball. This hole is then filled. If you look closely at your ball, you can always find where the pin was, no matter how well the hole was filled. It is this mark where the pin was that we call the pin of the bowling ball.

When we talk about pin placement, the ball’s pin cannot be moved. However, the finger holes can be drilled in different spots in relation to this pin. It is where these holes are drilled in relation to the pin that has a profound effect on how your ball behaves when thrown.

Bowling Armadillo
An Armadillo device can help you easily locate your PAP.

You will also need access to an Armadillo device. These can be purchased off the Internet, but most bowling Pro Shops will let you borrow theirs for a few minutes. The Armadillo device is a clear plastic tool that looks like a mold of half of a bowling ball. It has track lines on it.

You need to know what a track is when it comes to your ball. A track is the area of the bowling ball that actually makes contact with the lane surface as the ball moves down the lane. The ball typically moves in a revolving motion down the lane, so the track is usually in the form of a ring or rings on your bowling ball.

Next, you need to understand what track flare is. Track flare is axis migration. If your ball has no flare, your track will consist of a single ring on your ball. If you have flare, you will see side by side rings. This is because your ball changes its axis of rotation because it is trying to achieve its preferred spin axis. The more flare a ball has, the earlier the ball will hook. Less flare means a later hook for your ball.

Bowling Ball Track
Finding your bowling ball track line, or the oil line created when you throw a ball, is the first step in locating your PAP.

Now that we have that housekeeping out of the way, we are ready to find your PAP. First, you need to get the track of your ball. To get the track, use a ball as close to the one you plan on drilling in type and weight, but also one that does not flare on you much. Make sure it is clean, and throw the ball down the center of the lane as you normally would. Be careful to not wipe any oil off the ball when it returns. You should now have an oil line on your ball, which is your track. Trace your track on the ball using a yellow or white marker pencil. If you have flare in your roll, trace the track closest to the thumb hole and furthest from the fingers.

If you have access to an Armadillo device, you are set. Simply match your track line with the line on the Armadillo, and mark your PAP with the locator hole or slot at the end of the Armadillo for your track. If your track does not match perfectly with one of the tracks on the Armadillo, just estimate between the lines. If you are right handed, your PAP will be to the right of the fingers. And for lefties, your PAP will be to the left of the fingers.

For those that do not have access to an Armadillo, there are still ways for you to find your PAP. One way is once you have your track marked, place your ball in a spinner device. Place your ball so that the track is lying horizontal and is evenly spaced around the cup of the spinner. Turn on the spinner, and use your marker pencil to mark a dot on top of the ball as its spinning. This is your PAP.

Another way to find your PAP once you have traced your track is to use a pro sect scale and draw a line 90 degrees from two different spots on your track ring. Your PAP will be where these two lines intersect.

Lastly, if you do not have access to an Armadillo, spinner, or a pro sect scale, you can place your ball on a flat surface with the track ring you outlined parallel to the surface the ball is sitting on. Balance a coin or poker chip on the ball. Where this chip or coin is balanced is your PAP. This method is the least accurate, but it’s better than nothing.

Bowling Positive Axis Point
Drilling your ball according to your individual PAP will help prevent you leaving big spares.

To verify your PAP’s location, mark your PAP with a small white sticker or tape, just something that will stand out. Have a friend watch as you throw the ball. This sticker should stand perfectly still and not wobble during the first half of the balls journey down the lane. It is OK if it wobbles later on in the second half of its journey as the core migrates to its preferred spin axis, or PSA. The ball should “look at you” at first, then turn toward the pocket.

So what does this all really mean? Having this information will allow your pro shop to drill your finger holes perfectly for you. I cringe every time I hear of someone who asked for their ball to match their friend’s ball just because it works so well for them. We are all different, and knowing where your PAP is can really help a Pro Shop drill your ball perfectly for you.

Now that you know how to find your PAP, we recommend checking out The Ultimate Bowling Guide. This guide will give you the inside edge you need to really step up your bowling game. With this guide and a properly drilled ball based on your unique PAP, you will really find your scores improving.

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Bowling Trivia:

Did you know that a bowling lane is 60 feet long from the foul line to the headpin?