According to the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA), a horseshoe pit should not be less than 31×43 inches, and not more than 36×72 inches. The overall ‘playing area’ is 48 feet long and 6 feet wide. That’s not all. More in the paragraphs below…
Horseshoes is a game involving four horseshoes and 2 stakes. It can be played by two players or even two opposing teams that consist of two players in each team. The game progresses by players taking alternate turns at tossing the horseshoes, which are actually double the size of actual horseshoes and are made of either metal or plastic, at the stakes which are typically placed 40 feet apart. Putting it in simple terms, there is a wooden pole and you have to aim the horseshoe in that pole or stake.
Now there is a pit in this game, which is the area where the scoring takes place. Consequently, the dimensions of this pit can make or break the game for a player in the court. In the following, we will have a look at the exact dimensions of a horseshoe pit, along with easy steps on how to go about building one.
Dimensions of a Horseshoe Pit
- The overall area of the horseshoe pit, which consists of the playing area, is a 48 feet x 6 feet rectangular area.
- The distance is measured from the back of the pitcher’s box lengthwise, while the width is measured across the pitcher’s box.
- The pit, stack, and the pitching platform is all part of the pitcher’s box, the dimensions of which are 6 feet x 6 feet. These dimensions are fixed and cannot be altered. The back of one pitching box has to be 46 feet from the back of the other.
- The horseshoe pit, when measured from inside, must be a minimum of 43 inches long, but should not exceed 72 inches. The court’s center line is the spot where it should be placed or made. With regards to the width of the pit, the pit’s inner measurement must be 31 inches, and it should not be more than 36 inches. The remaining space is divided in equal parts, that make two pitching platforms.
- The pitching platform can extend from 18 to 20.5 inches in width. These dimensions have been prescribed in a manner such that the stake does not get too close or too far for a player. This is because, the players do not want to lose out on points, and why would they! An extended platform can be used for young players. A maximum of 10 feet long extension in front of the pit is allowed.
- Stakes must be fixed at the exact center of the pitcher’s box, and are very important since that is the player’s target. They must be 1 inch in diameter. Their height needs to measure 14 to 15 inches from the ground. The placement of the stake should be done a minimum of 21 inches away from the front and back side of the pit. The stake should be tilted in a slightly forward angle, close to 3 inches of lean.
- The substance in the pit, either clay, dirt or sand, or any synthetic material, has to be a minimum 4 inches in depth. In case of ground level pits, the officially prescribed depth is 8 inches, according to the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association.
- If side boards are more than 7 inches, they should be avoided, as side boards are not advised due to safety reasons. According to the official dimensions, the frame of the pit should not be more than 7 inches above the pitching platform height. A pit box is framed using wooden boards. The 36-inch boards have to be perpendicular to the playing area. Each of the pit should have a board two feet in front and two feet behind. Similarly, there are 48-inch boards which need to be kept at either sides of the stake. Now this will imply, considering the total length of the pit to be 48 inches, that the actual distance between two stakes would be 44 inches. Another important thing is that the metal stake should be fixed in the exact center of the pit.
How to Build a Horseshoe Pit
Two six-feet long treated wood 2×4s or 2×6s; cut in half, two eight-feet long treated wood 2×4s or 2×6s; cut in half, several bags of sand (enough to fill two 36×48 inch boxes at least 3 – 4 inches deep), two three-feet long steel posts (about an inch in diameter), and 16 – 24 exterior (deck) screws (2½ inch long, approx.). The tools you would need are an electric drill with a screw driver, sledge hammer, shovel, measuring tape, and a saw.
Pitch 1: Once you gather all the supplies, start off with making the frame for your pit. Take two 36-inch boards and two 48-inch boards and form a rectangle. For making a single frame, screw together the pieces at the corners. Now do the same thing for another frame, by overlapping ends in the same direction for the two frames to have the same dimensions.
Pitch 2: Take measurements of the building area, you would need 48 feet distance form the back of one pitching area to the back of the other. The width needed would be six feet. But do not forget, as mentioned, that you would need 2 feet of open space behind each box.
Pitch 3: At the ends of the playing area, center each box sideways, with the fronts being 36 feet apart. The playing area should be parallel to the side of the boxes which is longer.
Pitch 4: For getting an idea as to where to dig, mark the boundary of each of the boxes on the grass using spray paint, flour, lime, or anything conveniently available. Once you do that, remove the boxes.
Pitch 5: Whatever you do, you are going to walk on the grass in the pit area. Therefore, do not worry, and just dig in the grass down in a rectangular shape. This will make the level of the frame top a little bit lower than the grass. A bowl-shaped hole would be convenient later to keep the sand in place.
Pitch 6: Now place the frame in the crater, and anchor the iron stake in the center of the pit. Make it lean slightly toward the other stake, around 3 inches. When you pound it down with a hammer, make sure that 13 to 15 inches of the stake protrudes above the ground, outside the pit.
Pitch 7: Fill the frame with sand while keeping in mind the earlier point. However, you cannot measure every time the sand is moved, so you can compromise a bit on seeing whether the stake is jutting out 13.5 inches or 15.5 inches outside the pit. No need to be finicky about that.
Pitch 8: Finally, go to the spot where you have marked the second box and carry out the steps 5, 6 and 7 again, for the other pit area.
With the knowledge of the dimensions of a horseshoe pit and the procedure to build, go out and have fun with friends playing your favorite game.