IV. Assist Inertia
Someone once said, an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. In this case, the outside force is a heavy, U-shaped metal object being thrown from 40 feet away, so you are definitely going to need some help keeping your frames in place. Pilot drill holes into your frames and either drive large, metal spikes through these holes or preferably 2 foot pieces rebar. Go with at least a foot in length for whatever you choose to use as spikes, but the closer to 2 feet the better. Use a hammer, sledge hammer or back of an axe to drive these spikes through the pilot holes and into the ground, standing on your frame the whole time to make sure it doesn’t shift too much. Your frames will chip, splinter, and even shift a little bit over time, but these spikes will ensure they don’t go anywhere. With pins steady and frames secure, the pressure is now rightfully put on the players.
V. Add Sand
Now comes the easy part. Add sand and you’re all done. Regular play sand works best, but you can go with whatever you are most comfortable with. Place the sand right over the grass or remove the top layer of sod for extra depth. Either way is fine. Got kids? Get them involved with putting down the sand. Got kids? Good luck keeping them from thinking these are their sand boxes when you aren’t throwing shoes. Got kids? Get little, plastic horseshoes for them and play half-court. Remember, this is fun for all ages.
You can make covers to help protect your pits from the weather and especially from wild animals using them as litter boxes. Pressure treated is always best, but not necessary. You can get fancy and buy plexiglass sheets or just paint regular plywood to prevent the weather from taking a toll on your covers.
Determine the rules. There are all sorts of variations of play: taking turns throwing one shoe at a time vs. throwing both of your shoes before the other player throws, all points count vs. the cancellation system, counting leaners vs. not, etc… You can learn more about the ins and outs of backyard horseshoes here, but the most important thing is to determine which way you prefer to play and sticking to those rules. Don’t let some “pro” come over your house and tell you that the rules should be otherwise. It’s backyard horseshoes, and it’s your backyard.
Lastly, and most importantly — have fun.
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