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How to Build a Backyard Horseshoe Pit

Laying Out Your Court

One of the great things about building your own horseshoe pit is that you can create a playing field that matches your level of enthusiasm, interest or skill. If you're just a casual player who is looking for a way to pass the time while Uncle Morty finishes grilling the steaks, you can simply shove two sticks in the ground and call it a court. But if you're taking the time to read an article about how to build horseshoe pits, chances are that you're a bit more serious about the sport, or else just like to do things right. In that case, you'll want to lay out a pit to the specifications of the U.S. Horseshoe Pitchers Association for competitive play. "Mediocre conditions favor weaker players," writes expert Steven Boga in his book "Horseshoes." "Quality courts reward merit and intensify competition."

In picking out a spot for your horseshoe pit, look for a fairly level space that's about 10 feet (3 meters) wide and 50 feet (15 meters) long, and is free of obstructions such as trees, clotheslines and electrical wires. Ideally, it should run north to south, so that the players won't get the sun in their eyes [source: Boga].

If you just need a minimalistic horseshoe pit that's good for practicing, all you need to do is drive a pair of 3-foot-long (1-meter-long) iron or steel stakes into the ground about 40 feet (12 meters) apart from each other, leaving about 14 to 15 inches (35 to 38 centimeters) of the stakes above ground. Players will be throwing from the middle in either direction, so tilt the stakes slightly toward you. Then just dig up the soil a little around each stake, and you're ready to go [sources: Boga, NHPA].

If you want a real regulation court, you'll need to get some materials and do a more elaborate construction job. We'll explain how in the next section.