Log Bowling Yard Game for Families
My husband made this super fun log bowling yard game about ten years ago after playing it at a friend’s barbecue. It was easy to make and has been tons of fun for our family.
Let me show you how to make this super easy DIY yard game in about 30 minutes (+ a couple of hours for the paint to dry) following these simple instructions. Then keep reading for the setup and rules for playing the game!
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Over the years the rules for our log bowling yard game have evolved a little. But it’s still just as much fun. With the bonus of being super easy to make.
Log bowling is a great yard game for large groups and for families. Many people can play at the same time. And it’s easy to learn the rules.
Plus if you’re looking for a lawn game for tweens and teens, log bowling is a good choice.
Teens and tweens can quickly learn the rules and have fun with their friends while they play. (Older kids up through teens love this game. For younger kids, the throwing of logs is less of a good idea).
It’s also a fun lawn game for family reunions, BBQs and other social events in the yard. Outdoor parties are a fun place to play lawn games. And this one is always a hit.
Fun fact about this game. I recently discovered that this game is based on a game called Molkky. And that it was invented in Finland in 1996. Molkky was based on a much older game called Karelian Skittles.
We’ve always called it log bowling at my house. And although our version is similar, there are some variations from Molkky.
What is Molkky?
Molkky is a Finnish throwing game that since it’s invention in the 1990’s has become popular all over the world. It’s a popular outdoor game for groups because it’s easy to play and fun to watch.
The game involves throwing a chunk of wood at other chunks of wood in a style similar to bowling (only with throwing, not rolling).
Although you can buy Molkky sets online, you can also make a set at home. And it’s pretty cheap and easy.
I’ll tell you how.
How to Make Your Own Log Bowling Yard Game
- Three 4" round fence posts (8' long posts)
- Number stencils for numbers 1 through 12 (1-3 inch stencil)
- 1 Can spray paint (we used hi-viz orange) for easy reading
- Sawzall with a 12" blade or table saw
- Sawzall or Table Saw
- Cut two straight-sided throwing logs 12 inches long each from one of the fence posts
- Cut 12 “pins” 14 inches long each with 45 degree angled top cuts (so you can view the number on the log during play)
- Stencil numbers 1 through 12 on the angled cut of each pin (one number per pin) with the spray paint and stencils
- Wait for the paint to dry 1 to 2 hours
A Closer Look at the Log Bowling Set
Your completed DIY Yard Game for log bowling will have the following pieces:
- 2 throwing logs (top left image)
- 12 pins with 45 degree top cut (top right side view, bottom left front view)
- Spray painted stenciled numbers 1 thru 12 on the pins
How to Play Log Bowling: Rules & Setup
A note before we start talking about rules. Log bowling is really similar to Molkky but there are a few differences.
If you’re familiar with how to play Molkky, you can definitely use this homemade log bowling set to play the game with those rules.
But in my family, we’ve been playing this game for over a decade without ever knowing it was called Molkky or what the official rules were. So, we do have a few different rules. We learned from some friends and then made the rules our own from there.
You can check out the rules for Molkky here. And then check out our rules for log bowling below. You’ll see they are very similar but with a few differences.
After reading both sets of rules you can decide what makes the most sense for your family yard game.
Set Up Your Yard Game Before Playing
- Set up the 12 pins in a pyramid formation close together as pictured above.
- We play as teams of two with two players per team. You can have as many teams as you want. This makes this a great yard game for large groups. (But the game also works with single player teams)
- Lay down a rope or stick as your throwing line about 15-20 feet from the pins (more distance=more difficulty)
Rules for Log Bowling
- The objective of the game is to throw the chucking log at the pins and knock them over to score points. You are playing to 25 points exactly. If you go over 25 points your score drops back to 12 points
- Each thrower gets two chances to hit the pins on their turn. Players take turns throwing UNDERHAND. (Logs must always be thrown with an UNDERHAND throw)
If you are playing as pairs, both players on each team throw on their team’s turn. Each player gets two opportunities to throw per turn. If you miss the pins on your first throw you get a second try.
- The pins are reset after each thrower.
- As the pins get knocked down you set them up where the head of the pin is laying when they fall. They will get further and further apart as you play the game. This makes it easier to hit a single pin with one throw.
- Any throw that completely misses the pins is called a “whiff”. Any team that gets three whiffs in a row is out of the game.
How to Score and Win Log Bowling
- Pins that fall down completely and are laying flat (NOT leaning on another pin) are worth one point each when you knock down multiple pins
- If you knock down only one pin you get the face value of that pin (for example, if you knock down the #5 pin, you get 5 points)
- “Whiffs” or throws that miss the pins completely get zero points (3 whiffs in a row for one team means that team is out of the game).
- The first team to get 25 points without going over wins the game. If you go over 25 points your score drops back to 12 points.
Wooden Lawn Bowling Fun
Log bowling is a fun family game for the yard. Now is the perfect time to make your own DIY yard game. And have some fun log bowling this summer.
We made our log bowling set one morning and took it to a family reunion that afternoon. So, don’t think it’s too late if your party is tonight and you’re looking for a good backyard game.
This DIY yard game is also a blast to play with just you and your kids at home. So, don’t feel like you have to wait until you have a big group. It makes a great small group outdoor game as well.
And maybe as you play the game your family will develop their own rules. It tends to happen with games that become family favorites. Leave a comment if you add or change any of the rules! I’d love to know what you come up with!