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What Is a Turkey in Bowling Terms and How to Bowl a Turkey

A turkey in the wild represents throwing three strikes in modern bowling and bowling turkey can be accomplished by complete amateurs.

A turkey is probably one of the most well-known terms in bowling term. But what exactly does it mean? If you want to know the answer to that question and more, keep reading until the end.

We’ll explain everything you need to know about what is a turkey in bowling and dive into a few other bowling-specific terms.

What Is a Turkey in Bowling?

Bowling a turkey means you’ve made three strikes in a row. So, after your third consecutive strike, it’s officially called a turkey.

Getting multiple strikes in a row is difficult, but anyone can get one through a combination of technique, enough practice, and a little luck.

Have you ever heard someone say they got a sizzling turkey? That means they scored a turkey during their first three frames. 

Where Did the Turkey Achievement Come From?

Although it’s hard to imagine, bowling has been popular for centuries. The oldest version goes back to ancient Egypt, around 3200 BC.

As technology improved, bowling transitioned from its ancient origins into the modern game we all know and love today. Around the 1700 and 1800s, bowling was a popular form of entertainment.

Large tournaments were held where people could compete for prizes, including food baskets. Many prizes involved food, including fruit, vegetables, and even live turkeys.

Eventually, the tournament organizers started handing out live turkeys as a prize for making three consecutive strikes. Although the practice has fallen out of popularity, the name stuck around.

And turkeys aren’t the only food-based bowling lingo. A few other bowling achievements have titles that reflect items you would have received for winning a bowling tournament. 

How Many Points Is a Turkey Worth in Bowling?

Each strike is worth 10 points, plus the sum of your next two rolls. So, while a turkey has a base score of 30 points, your final score will depend on how many pins you managed to knock down on your subsequent rolls.

The most you can earn from a turkey is 90 points, while the lowest is 60. It’s a lot to keep up with, but it’ll make much more sense if you keep track of things with a scorecard. 

Can Beginners Bowl a Turkey? 

What makes getting a turkey difficult is that all three frames have to end with a strike. While it’s rare, there’s no reason why a beginner can’t roll a turkey.

Getting a strike requires skill, but it also takes luck. If you’re having a lucky night or you’ve unexpectedly hit your stride, you might just find yourself getting a turkey much faster than you anticipated. 

How To Get a Turkey

Now that you know it’s possible beginners can bowl a turkey, you might be looking for tips on how to make it happen. While these aren’t a guarantee, here are a few tips on how to improve your bowling technique and get that turkey. 

  • Use the right bowling ball – The first step to getting a turkey is making sure you’re playing with the right equipment. While you might be tempted to use the heaviest ball available, you’ll probably lose control once you release it. Instead, find a ball that’s light enough to maneuver so that you can launch it with precision. Picking your best bowling balls is more art than science, so you’ll probably have to try a few different sizes and weights until you find the one that feels right. 
  • Work on your form – When you’re just starting to bowl, developing your form is one of the most important things you should work on. While you’re free to create your own technique, most experts agree that you should stand upright with a slight bend in your knees. Your feet should be slightly relaxed as you approach the lane straight on. Leaning to either side will cause your ball to go to the side versus straight down the lane. 
  • Perfect your swing – Although throwing the ball down the lane as fast as you can is tempting, a carefully calculated swing will give you much more consistent results. When you get ready to roll your ball, straighten your arm out and keep it close to your body. Keep your arm as relaxed as possible, and swing your arm forward like a pendulum. Once you release the ball, follow through and allow your arm to continue its natural upwards swing. 
  • Time your release – Properly timing your release is essential if you want to get a strike. Wait until your arm falls to its lowest point before you release the ball. That way, the ball will roll smoothly without dropping and bouncing off in the wrong direction. 
  • Know where to aim – While most people assume aiming straight down the middle of the lane is the best way to get a strike, you may be surprised to find out that that’s incorrect. Instead, many professional bowlers use the arrows that are painted on the lane to aim their roll slightly to the left or right. When you try for a strike, line up your shot with the arrow directly to the right or left of the center arrow. Right-handed bowlers should aim for the arrow on the right, while left-handed players should target the one to the left. 
Bowling Session Today My First Turkey in 13 Years

Other Bowling Achievements to Know About

Bowling vernacular that is heard at bowling tournaments and lanes.

Bowling is full of interesting slang words, and each region seems to have its own specific terminology. This section will examine some other bowling achievements and terms you’d hear around the bowling alley.  

  • Spare – During each frame, you’ll have two chances to knock down as many pins as possible. If you knock over all of the pins in two separate rolls, it’s called a spare. 
  • Strike – A strike is when you knock down all ten bowling pins in one throw. 
  • Double – As the name suggests, a double is getting two strikes consecutively. 
  • Turkey or triple – As you know from this article, a turkey is three strikes in a row. 
  • Hambone or four-bagger – Like turkeys, ham was a standard reward for winning a bowling tournament. As a result, making four consecutive strikes is known as a hambone. 
  • Brat or five-bagger – A brat, which is short for bratwurst, is a type of sausage that usually comes in a pack of five. Getting a brat means you’ve made five strikes back to back. 
  • Wild Turkey or six-pack – Both of these names refer to six consecutive strikes in a row. 
  • Front seven or seven-bagger – You can earn a seven bagger by making seven consecutive strikes. 
  • Octopus or eight-bagger – Just like an octopus has eight tentacles, you earn this achievement by getting eight strikes in a row. 
  • Golden Turkey or nine-bagger – While getting a turkey is difficult, getting nine consecutive strikes in a row is needed for a Golden Turkey. 
  • Front Ten or ten-bagger – If you’ve played ten frames and made a strike in each one, you’ll get a Front Ten. 
  • Front eleven or eleven-bagger – A Front Eleven is just shy of a perfect game and is achieved by getting 11 consecutive strikes. 
  • A Perfect Game or Dinosaur – The rarest achievement of all means you’ve played a flawless game and made 12 strikes in a row. 

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We hope this article has answered your questions about what a turkey is and how many points it’s worth. Bowling is full of different terms, but don’t get overwhelmed! As you continue to play, all the information will begin to stick; you’ll get the hang of things in no time!