The Technical Department of the BTBA is currently lead by Paul Le Manquais as Head of Technical Services (Head Tech) reporting to the Vice Chairman/Governance.

Centre inspections

The Head Tech leads a team of qualified inspectors in undertaking inspections requested by centres. These are normally undertaken on an annual basis but subject to major work (e.g. a resurface, synthetic overlays pin deck replacement) then an inspection should be undertaken as soon as possible after the work is complete. This assures that the work complies with current standards and is within tolerances. This can also act as an independent quality check for centre operators.

The inspector records measurements on the inspection spreadsheet which automatically grades the centre. The Head Tech has the remit to adjust the grading based on items that cannot be measure e.g. damage to the lane surface. This is done from supporting photographs supplied by the inspectors and notes added in the report.

It is important to understand that the BTBA grades the centre based on the inspection carried out on that day. Just like an MOT for a motor vehicle, it could change the following day. The annual certificate states clearly upon it:

This is to certify that the equipment, including bowling pins provided for sanctioned leagues and tournaments meet the requirements of the British Tenpin Bowling Association.

The acceptance of this certificate carries with it the agreement to maintain all equipment including bowling pins so as to meet the requirements throughout the life of the certificate.

The Head of Technical Services of the BTBA or his designated representative may inspect equipment used in sanctioned league or tournament play at any time during the life of the certificate to determine whether such equipment continues to meet BTBA specifications.

What is included in a lane inspection?

There are two types of lane inspection, initial (including major work) or annual.

An initial inspection checks the following

  • Length of the lanes and approaches.
  • Targets (dots and arrows on both lane and approaches) are correctly placed*.
  • Assurance that the pin decks are correctly placed within the kick back panels.
  • That the pit depths i.e. end of the lane to the cushion facing and lane surface to the carpet are within specification.
  • Pin spots are correctly placed*.
  • Plus, all the measurements taken in an annual inspection.

* Primarily on wood lanes.

An Annual Inspection checks or measures:

  • Depressions in the approaches.
  • Foul light operation and adjustment.
  • Crosswise tilts of the lanes at a minimum of 5 places and at least one on every synthetic panel.
  • Synthetic panel joints.
  • Protruding gutters or bumpers.
  • Pin deck crosswise and lengthwise tilts.
  • Pins in a pair of lanes are of the same brand.
  • Pin spotting and condition of the pins.
  • Depths of the flat gutters and whether they are tightly secured.
  • Condition of the kickback panels and edge strips on the pin decks.
  • Distance between the wooden kickbacks.

What is not included in a lane inspection?

  • Operation of hand dryers.
  • Lane dressing machine or the pattern laid.
  • Decorative state of the bowling centre.
  • Serviceability of the pin spotters, other than pin spotting.
  • How approaches are allowed to be used by the centre.
  • Health and Safety issues.
  • String pin machines, although lanes and approaches can be checked for conformance to measurement standards if requested. (This is currently under consideration for sanctioned league and tournament play)