Fо̄wling Warehouse-Hamtramck

Football + Bowling? Discover the Thrills of Fowling in Michigan

Looking for a fun new game to play with family and friends? Try your hand at fowling in Michigan!

Michigan is known for many things, including incredible scenery, unique delicacies, Motown music, and automobiles. But, did you know that Michigan also has a connection to a unique and fun game that combines elements of bowling and football?

If you’re looking for a fun new game, try fowling — a game where bowling pins meet pigskin. Since 2014, this game has taken hold in Michigan and grown in popularity across the country.

Read on to learn about this fun, exciting game that sprung from tailgating, happenstance, and some creative minds from Michigan.

Fо̄wling Warehouse-Grand Rapids-Playfowling
Fо̄wling Warehouse | photo via honey_bee_moments

What Exactly Is Fowling?

If you’ve lived in Michigan for any length of time, then you know that Michiganders love games. We are fiercely loyal to our sports and college teams, and the state offers many unique sporting opportunities, including winter Olympic sports.

DON’T FORGET: Euchre is Michigan’s favorite card game — an extremely competitive favorite passed down through generations.

But, fowling combines all the best elements of a summer backyard barbeque or a fall tailgate. It’s a fun game with a quick setup that anyone can play.

An Overview

You’re probably wondering, what is fowling? Does it have something to do with birds? Does it have something to do with basketball? Does it have something to do with horses?

Fortunately, fowling isn’t about birds. Or basketball (that’s fouling). Or horses (that’s foaling).

If you’ve ever wanted to bowl and play football at the same time, fowling (pronounced like FOE-ling) lets players do just that by combining elements of both. Fowling involves setting up 10 pins in a traditional bowling layout and trying to knock them down with a regulation-size football.

In some ways, it’s also similar to cornhole or horseshoes — the more accurate you are, the more you’ll be rewarded for your gameplay.

Fо̄wling Warehouse-Grand Rapids-Playfowling
Fо̄wling Warehouse | photo via emilyingrandrapids

Fowling’s Connection to Michigan

Fowling was created by Chris Hutt and his friends from Michigan nearly two decades ago while they were tailgating at the Indianapolis 500.

Hutt and his friends were longtime annual tailgaters for the famous race, consistently coming up with projects to try to impress tailgaters around them. In 2001, Hutt’s group decided to build a bowling alley on risers on their site with a regulation 48-foot lane. They ran into trouble when bowling balls kept getting past their barriers at the end of the lane.

A lightbulb went off the day before the race when Hutt and his friends noticed some tailgaters playing catch with a football and an errant pass sent the ball crashing into their bowling pins. A box of spare pins was quickly set up, and the origins of fowling slowly took root with Hutt and his buddies making up rules as they went along.

Eventually, the risers were taken down and the pins remained on two platforms. The game proved so popular in Indy in the following years that people waited as long as three hours for a chance to play.

More setups were added and a tournament, known as Superfowl Sunday, was created. Before long, Hutt returned to Detroit and brought the sport with him, and Fowl Warehouse was created in 2014 with a location in Hamtramck.

Fо̄wling Warehouse-Hamtramck
Fо̄wling Warehouse | photo via cancan1959

How Do You Play Fowling

The goal in a fowling match is simple — knock down all 10 pins to win. But, the game requires a bit more nuisance, so here’s a rundown of the rules of fowling.

Setting Up a Fowling Match

Setting up a fowling match is quick and easy. Gameplay ideally takes place in an area that allows the two boards with pins to be placed about 48 feet apart. The pins are set up with a red pin in the center circle and white pins in the remaining spots.

A match can be played 1-on-1 or in teams of up to five with each team standing behind their board.

Playing a Fowling Match

A match starts with a coin flip. The winner picks either the first or last throw, while the loser chooses a side/board.

Players alternate taking throws to knock down all of their opponent’s pins, and the first one to do so is the winner. Any pins knocked down after a round are cleared from the board.

Throws are taken from the back of a board. Any throw from in front of the board doesn’t count, and any knocked-down pins must be set up again.

NOTE: A team can never defend their pins against a thrown ball and may only grab or catch the ball once it crosses the back of the board. If a ball bounces behind the board, a grab is missed, and it bounces back onto the board, the ball is considered live and can’t be touched.

Any violation of the defense rules results in a penalty shot for the throwing team. Any member of the team can take the penalty shot, and the throwing team gets the ball back. The player whose throw was interfered with gets to throw again as well.

Ways to Win a Match

Again, the objective of fowling is simple — knock down all your opponent’s pins. But, there are a few ways to go about doing that.

The easiest way is to throw a strike — knocking down all 10 pins at once. Just as in bowling, strikes are coveted shots.

Another way to win — and win quickly — is to throw a BONK. A BONK occurs on a player’s first throw of the match when the red center pin is knocked over and all other pins remain upright. Call it lucky. Call it a fluke. Either way, it means a win.

FUN FACT: At Fowling Warehouse locations, when a player throws a BONK, they get to honk the BONK horn, — a 140-decibel horn from a Great Lakes freighter. At the Ypsilanti location, Bonkers are awarded their pin as a souvenir, they get to write their name on a BONK board, and their name goes into a permanent record of Bonkers.

Other Fowling Tips & Etiquette

Things can get really interesting when play results in a Fair Up. This occurs when one player/team knocks down all 10 pins first. If that happens, the other player/team gets a final throw. If they can knock down all remaining pins, the match is a tie and heads to overtime and sudden death.

When a match is in overtime, one pin is placed on any dot on the board. A coin flip determines who throws first and, from there, the first pin to go down wins.

Good sportsmanship during a match is encouraged, but some lighthearted taunting isn’t out of the question. At the end of a match, opposing players are encouraged to shake hands and tell one another “Good Fowl.”

Fо̄wling Warehouse-Grand Rapids
Fо̄wling Warehouse | photo via playfowling

Where You Can Fowl in Michigan

Fowling Warehouse locations can be found nationwide, such as Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. But, there are also several locales in Michigan:

Fowling Warehouse offers both open play (recommended for individuals and small groups) and lane reservation (recommended for bigger groups).

“It is such a great pastime! We had so much fun. Fowling is just the right mix of challenge and fun. Give it a try… you will not forget it. The space is spacious and feels comfortable throughout. Great choices for beer and a friendly staff. Can’t miss.”

Brian S. via TripAdvisor

Customers can choose from a drink menu that includes an extensive beer selection and non-alcoholic beer, cider, seltzer, and soft drinks. Also, Fowling Warehouse is home to the Mystery Beer Machine, a special vending machine that decides what customers drink for $2 to $5.

At Fowling Warehouse, customers are encouraged to BYOF — that is, bring your own food. Customers can have food delivered or can bring pizza, tacos, or whatever sounds good.

Fо̄wling Warehouse-Grand Rapids-Playfowling
Fо̄wling Warehouse | photo via corym06

How You Can Fowl in Your Backyard

Whether you’re an unabashed fan of fowling or you don’t have a Fowling Warehouse near you, fret not! Fowling Warehouse offers a portable fowling set you can order online for your next backyard gathering, block party, or tailgate.

The set includes 20 pins, two game boards, a football, and an air pump — everything you need for a friendly (or competitive) fowling match.

FAQs About Fowling in Michigan

What is fowling?

Fowling is a game created by Michiganders, combining elements of football and bowling where players take turns trying to knock down 10 bowling pins by throwing a football.

How is a fowling match won?

Knock down all 10 of your opponent’s pins first, and you win the fowling match. A match can also be won quickly with a strike or a BONK, whereby the center red pin is knocked over while all other pins still stand.

How long does a match take?

A fowling match can be over quickly or take a least a few minutes depending on how good the players are. A match can be won on the first shot or a couple of shots if a player is accurate.

Where can I try fowling in Michigan?

Fowling Warehouse has Michigan locations in Hamtramck, Grand Rapids, and Ypsilanti Michigan, so try it for yourself or bring your friends and family to play.

Fо̄wling Warehouse-Hamtramck
Fо̄wling Warehouse | photo via 4boyslotsanoise

Try Fowling for Yourself

There’s no limit on fun during a fowling match. This football-bowling combination can be enjoyed by players of any age and skill level, and it can be as friendly or competitive as you want it to be.

This game can be the star of your next family beach day or the perfect place to hold a fun work event. Try it for yourself to see whether you’re skilled enough to throw easy strikes or score an elusive BONK.

So whether you visit a Fowling Warehouse location near you or you purchase a fowling set for some backyard fun, fowling in Michigan can be an unforgettable experience.

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