When you spend your time enjoying the sunshine in your backyard, wouldn’t you like to have fun playing an exciting game with your family? One such game is horseshoe pitching, which is a very popular game in the US and Canada.
But rather than going out and finding a suitable pitch to play in, why not build your own horseshoe pit in your lawn? This project doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming, as we are about to show you. Once you know the basics of common horseshoe pit dimensions and how they are measured, you’ll be able to get started right away! Read on to learn more.
What is a Horseshoe Pit?
Horseshoe pitching is a classic game that dates back to Roman times when the Roman soldiers used discarded horseshoes for playing the game on the pitch. This lawn game involves 4 horseshoes and 2 stakes, which can be played by two players per team. Each stake is 40 feet apart. The metal or plastic horseshoes are alternately tossed by players as they are aimed for the wooden pole or horseshoe stake.
If the dimensions of the pit are incorrect or inexact, it can totally break the game. Here we will take a look at the exact horseshoe pit dimensions along with how they are measured:
Common Horseshoe Pit Dimensions
According to the NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association), the pit should be no less than 31×43 inches and not greater than 36×72 inches. The regulation horseshoe pit must be 48 feet long and 6 feet wide. However, the most important measurement is the distance between the two stakes. This must be exactly 40 feet.
While the above horseshoe pit dimensions are set by regulations, there is nothing stopping you from building a smaller pit in case you don’t have enough space in your yard or lawn. The good thing about these games is their flexibility, so feel free to plan for a smaller pit if you wish.
If you are to compare with other games played in your home backyard, such as the cornhole games, the regulation horseshoe pit (48 feet long x 6 feet wide) has a similar length but is much shorter in width than the average cornhole board dimensions, which are 47.5 to 48 inches in length and 23.5 to 24 inches in width.
There is also the orientation of your pit, which we will go into more detail later.
How is a Horseshoe Pit Measured?
- The total rectangular area of the pit, which includes the playing area, comes to 48×6 feet. The distance is measured from the pitcher’s back box in length, while the width is measured across the box.
- The pitching platform, pole, and pit are all part of the box, so the dimensions must be 6×6 feet. These dimensions can’t be altered. The back of one of the boxes has to measure 46 feet starting from the back of the other.
- When measured from inside, the pit must be a minimum of 43 inches in length and not exceed 72 inches.
- When measuring the width of the pit, start from the inside. This must be 31 inches and no more than 36 inches. The additional space is divided equally between the two poles.
- The poles can extend from 18 to 20 inches in width. These dimensions are decided in a manner so that they don’t get too far or close for a player. Extended poles are usually used for young players only. A maximum of 10 feet in length is allowed for the pole extension.
- It is also important for the poles to be fixed exactly in the middle of the pitcher’s box as this is the player’s shooting target. The poles must be 1 inch in diameter and the height must be 14 to 15 inches starting from the ground up.
- When placing the pole, make sure it is at a minimum of 21 inches distance from the back and front side of the pit. The pole must be slightly tilted in a forward angle, close to 3 inches.
- The material you use to fill the pit with can be either sand, clay, dirt, or any synthetic substance with at least 4 inches of depth.
- For ground-level pits, the standard depth must be 8 inches as per the NHPA regulations.
How to Build the Ultimate Horseshoe Pit
So now that you have a basic idea of the measurements for your backyard horseshoe pit, it’s time to start planning the construction. Before you begin, find out whether you’ll require a permit to install a pit legally, especially since there will be a little digging involved.
Once you’ve done that, the next step is to determine the right location to install your pit. When looking for a suitable place in your land to build your pits, make sure it is relatively flat ground as the more level it is, the easier it will be to build the two pits.
It is also not recommended for the pit area to be located directly under trees. Why? The last thing you want to do is spend time removing all the fallen leaves, branches, or fruits from the pits. A horseshoe pit should be clear of any debris so you can just focus on your game.
Aside from trees, you must also think about the orientation of your pit. To play comfortably all day without the sun blinding you, choose a north-south direction.
And finally, before we begin the DIY horseshoe pit project, you should consider locating the pit away from your home or garage so as not to damage the foundation during digging.
To build a successful horseshoe court or pit, you’ll need the following tools and materials:
- Stained lumber x 8
- A shovel
- Circular saw
- Felt or membrane for weed prevention
Step 1. Take measurements of your space: keep in mind that the poles of the pit must be exactly 40 feet apart. The poles should sit within a box (at least 31×43 inches) and measure no greater than 36×72 inches.
Technically, horseshoes require two boxes, one for pitching and one for the poles. This means a 48×6 foot rectangular pit is needed for the game. With these dimensions in mind, you can then move on to building your boxes.
Step 2. Building the boxes: so let’s assume you have a pair of pits measuring 36×48 inches. You’ll need a total of 8 cut up lumber pieces, four of which measure 36 inches and the remaining four measuring 48 inches. You must then use fasteners to assemble the wood pieces into two rectangular boxes of identical height.
Step 3. Installing your boxes in the ground: while you can simply set your wooden boxes on the ground, it is better to dig trenches in order to secure each box into the ground. Be sure to lay membrane or felt at the bottom of each pit. This liner will prevent weed growth and keep the sand from sinking into the ground.
To dig your trenches, you must start from the borders of the pit. You can use a standard shovel of an edger for the digging. Your trench should be around 5 inches in depth.
Once your order has been cleared, continue digging out the rest of the pit with your shovel at the same depth (5 inches). During the digging, try not to stand on the actual pit itself as you may press the soil harder into the ground, thus making your digging even harder.
After digging out the pit, check to see if the depth is correct. If you’re about half an inch out, don’t worry, but any more than that, you’ll need to make corrections.
Now before moving on to the rest of the project, you’re not done digging yet. You’ll need an even deeper trench that runs across the pit’s width. This trench must be about 3 inches on either side of where you’ll be installing your poles. The trench should be about four inches deeper than the other trenches you’ve dug.
And finally, you need to repeat the same steps for the other pit before setting your poles in the trenches.
Step 4. Install your poles: when setting your poles in the trench, make sure they are at least 21 inches from the front of the box. The poles must be sticking up about 14-15 inches from the ground. They must lean slightly at an angle (3 inches) toward the other pit.
Step 5. Fill the pits with sand: the best type of sand for horseshoe pits is the one used for sandboxes. These are readily available and very cheap to buy in most stores. Taking into account the above dimensions for your boxes, you’ll need around 5-6 bags of sand to fill each pit.
And that’s it! You can now start pitching in your DIY horseshoe pit.
Now that you know exactly how to build a horseshoe pit on your lawn, you can start your DIY project without spending a lot of money or effort. Horseshoe pitching is a fun and competitive game for all age groups, and it can be enjoyed in your own backyard in the warmer months of the year. Go ahead and grab your horseshoe set now to impress your neighbors with your lawn gamer skills!