Bowling has been around at least 7,000 years since an archaeologist dug up a child's grave site from this time and it contained a stone ball and 9 pins.
In the 3rd century in Germany, bowling was a religious rite. There was a club carried called a kegal, used for protection. The kegel was stood up in the church cloister symbolizing a heathen and a ball was rolled at it. If the kegal was knocked over, the church member was said to have killed the heathen and was honored at the banquet.
Bowling spread from Germany to Holland and Switzerland and later to France, England and Spain. The first public establishment in England was in the 15th century and was associated with taverns.
The original bowling surfaces were clay, slate, and cinders with wood being used later. A maximum score of 200 was used toward the beginning, but was later changed to 300 to allow for more chance to improve the game. 10 pins were also adopted later as bowling grew in popularity.
The sport of bowling came to America with the Dutch colonists in 1626. German immigrants used bowling as an outdoor family activity.
In about 1840, America's first indoor bowling establishment was opened in New York. Gamblers were drawn to the sport. Bowling spread to other areas of the country, however, bowling was played with different rules in different parts of the country. Eventually bowling groups were formed called clubs. Uniform rules were adopted.
The National Bowling Association was formed in 1875 to ensure certain standards, however, it didn't survive. The American Bowling Congress was formed later and most bowlers today belong to ABC.
Automatic pin setters were introduced in 1952 and bowling continued to gain in popularity. With the computer age came the computer scoring which eliminated keeping score by hand.
League bowling is popular in modern times as well as individual bowling with friends.