Why Are Three Strikes Called A “Turkey” In Bowling? (Everything You Should Know)

Every sport has lingo that can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the terminology, and bowling is no exception!

If you’re new to bowling, you might be wondering: Why are three strikes called a Turkey in bowling? 

Why Are Three Strikes Called A “Turkey” In Bowling? (Everything You Should Know)

In this article, we will explore why three strikes are called a Turkey in bowling.

Keep reading to find out more.

The Origin Of The Turkey In Bowling

Bowling as a sport has been around for thousands of years, and in all those years some unique lingo has developed. 

During the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, bowling tournaments were very popular. From the working class, all the way to the aristocracy, people gathered to compete no matter their class, evidencing the far reach bowling had.

The prizes that were normally awarded at bowling tournaments were gift baskets of food, often containing coveted items such as a large ham or, why you’re here today, a turkey!

Why Are Three Strikes Called A Turkey In Bowling?

Turkeys became a common prize for winning a bowling tournament. However, as bowling a strike became easier for people over time, prizes were set for multiple strikes in a row to make it harder for people to win prizes.

Bowling a Turkey became the name for achieving three strikes in a row, while other bowling achievements achieved names of their own. This is why three strikes are called a Turkey still to this day!

So, what are a few of the other terms that you should familiarize yourself with?

A few bowling terms include Hambone, Brat, Wild Turkey, Golden Turkey, and Dinosaur. So, what do they mean?

Bowling a Hambone became synonymous with bowling 4 strikes in a row.

Bowling a Brat became synonymous with bowling 5 strikes in a row.

Bowling a Wild Turkey became synonymous with bowling 6 strikes in a row.

Bowling a Ham-Turkey became synonymous with bowling 7 strikes in a row.

Bowling an Octopus, as the number of legs suggests, became synonymous with bowling 8 strikes in a row.

Bowling a Golden Turkey became synonymous with bowling 9 strikes in a row.

Bowling a Dinosaur became synonymous with a perfect game, meaning that you manage to bowl strikes from start to finish. 

Back in the day, bowling three strikes in a row was a challenging feat, made harder by the fact that the bowling balls were less balanced. 

Additionally, bowling tournament officials would sometimes make it even harder to do well by weighing the bottom of the pins, so you were even less likely to win a prize.

Therefore, bowling a Turkey was an exceptional accomplishment, meaning that you were less likely to win a prize.

Today, it’s much easier to bowl three strikes consecutively when you put the work in. So, if you want to bowl a Turkey, with enough work, it’s within your reach!

While you won’t win a gobbling turkey today, the tradition lives on through bowling lingo. 

Turkey In Bowling Vs Turkey Bowling

Turkey bowling is a game that is based on the standard game of bowling, however, the main difference lies in the fact that a frozen turkey is used instead of a bowling ball to hit ten plastic bottles in the place of standard bowling pins.

This game is a Thanksgiving tradition and is quite popular in the United States and Canada.

As we’ve already discussed, a Turkey in bowling is when a player bowls three strikes one after the other.

Is It Difficult To Bowl A Turkey?

Bowling three strikes consecutively in modern bowling is much easier than hundreds of years ago. That being said, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily an easy feat to achieve.

If you want to bowl a turkey.

If you’re serious about bowling a Turkey, then you will have to first nail bowling a strike.

In the beginning, it’s all about mastering the technique of bowling one strike, because if you master this, you know how to replicate it again and again.

However, this is easier said than done, particularly if you’re a beginner. You shouldn’t go bowling with the aim of being able to bowl a turkey overnight. No matter how talented you are, that’s just not going to happen. And if it does, then it’s likely a total fluke.

To be able to bowl a Turkey is going to take time and dedication. When you’re a beginner, bowling a Turkey shouldn’t even be in your frame of mind, as working up to a strike is what you should be aiming for.

Once you have the technique of a strike down, then you can start thinking about replicating it enough times to bowl a Turkey.

How Do You Bowl A Turkey?

With enough practice, a bowler will be able to bowl a Turkey.

Why Are Three Strikes Called A “Turkey” In Bowling? (Everything You Should Know)

However, before you can bowl a turkey, you must first learn how to bowl a strike:

Step One – Choose The Right Ball

The key to bowling a strike, and of course a Turkey, is to choose the right ball

The ball needs to be light enough that you can send it down the lane with some force, but not so light that it will easily veer off to the side.

Make sure that when you’re choosing a ball you pick up a few and see how they feel in your hands.

You will also need to make sure that the finger holes feel the right size for your fingers because if they’re too big or too tight for you, this could compromise how you bowl.

Step Two – Choose Your Starting Distance

Next, you will need to choose your starting distance. 

For this step, you will want to stand with your back to the pins and position your heels at the foul line. Take around four normal steps toward the scoring area. Now, you need to take a mental note of where your toes end.

Step Three – Get Into The Right Position

Before you can start bowling strikes, it’s essential to find the best position you need to be in order to start your approach. 

To discover your non-dominant foot, simply look at the foot that is opposite your bowling hand.

If you’re bowling with the ball in your right hand, then this will therefore be your left foot.

Step Four – Aim For The Second Arrow On Your Dominant Side 

The arrows on the lanes are what you want to focus on, as these help you direct your aim.

Step Five – Take A Few Practice Bowls

You’re not going to be able to bowl a strike straight away, so at this point, you can take a few practice bowls.

You need to bowl as naturally as possible, try to keep your shoulders parallel with the foul line, and make sure that when you swing your arm, you are keeping it as straight as you can.

Once you have bowled, you will want to pay careful attention to where the ball lands, as this can help you make the necessary adjustments to bowl a strike when the time comes.

It’s important to know that the “pocket” is the area immediately to one or the other side of the lead pin and is the area you will want to aim for in order to consistently bowl strikes and eventually, a Turkey.

Step Five – Make The Necessary Adjustments By Moving In The Direction Of Your Miss

If you missed to the right, you will want to start your next throw a dot to the right of the center point. If you missed to the left, you will need to do the exact opposite. 

Although this might seem strange, missing in this way means that the bowling ball is hooking too late or too late.

Step Six – Practice, Practice, Practice

It can’t be stressed enough that in order to improve your accuracy, you need to practice.

You might get bored of hearing this as a beginner, but practice really does make perfect when it comes to bowling.

Remember to remain realistic. You’re not going to be able to bowl a strike, or a Turkey straight away. 

Becoming an overnight success might be what you want, but isn’t helpful to think about, as you’ll probably become frustrated and end up giving up before you reach your goal.

However, with these steps, you will get closer and closer the more time and effort you put into the process. After all, you get out what you put in.

Once you’ve got the technique to bowl a strike down, you can work on learning how to bowl strikes consistently to achieve a Turkey!

You should keep in mind that when you do manage to bowl three strikes in a row do not get a turkey as a prize like you used to in the olden days. That being said, what you will have is bragging rights to tell your friends!

In Summary 

So, that’s why three strikes are called a “Turkey” in bowling.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful and has given you a better understanding of bowling terms and where they come from.

Practice makes perfect, so don’t feel disheartened or discouraged if you can’t bowl a Turkey. With the right motivation, time, and effort, you’ll eventually get there.

Good luck and enjoy.  

Drew Kaufner