Walter Ray Williams, Jr. is a legend in the sport of horseshoe pitching and he has carried his natural good form and skills into the sport of professional bowling as well. I have read that he also has a college degree in the science of physics. On his own web site, he has a great Questions and Answers section where he takes time out of his busy schedule to answer questions from horseshoe pitchers.
Jim’s Question to Walter Ray
On March 28, 2005, Jim from Jackson's Gap, AL told Walter that he had been searching for some information about the physics of pitching horseshoes and that he found my physics page and thought it had some very good information. (Jim, Thank you for your kind remark). Jim gave Walter the web page address and asked him if he would take a look at the information printed on this page and with his knowledge of physics and horseshoe pitching, add a few comments.
Walter Ray’s Comments to Jim
Walter Ray Williams responded that "although Kenny Wolf uses some physics terms in his description of how to pitch a horseshoe he doesn't really use them properly" and that "it is very difficult to put some things into words." He went on to say that he (Walter Ray) hasn't "really tried to apply the equations of physics to horseshoes. Like most sports, it comes down to repetition and feel." Walter went on to talk about such things as the optimum heights to throw the shoe, "the exact angle of the stake, how rigid the stakes are, how solid the stakes are, how soft the clay is, how many shoes and where they are near the stake, the temper of the shoes, the temper of the stakes and even how a pitcher delivers the shoe (how much do they lean over and the height at which they release the shoe) would effect the optimum height." Walter stated that "there are some simple equations, but also some very complicated ones and I (Walter Ray Williams, Jr.) haven't put the serious thought into what I think it would require."
Kenny Wolf's Open Letter Response to
Walter Ray Williams, Jr.
The following letter is printed on the Physics web page on the Curt Day Horseshoe Courts Web Site . . . Atwww.kennywolf.accs.net/shoemath.htm
Hi Walter Ray,
First, I would like to congratulate you for your achievements in the sports of horseshoe pitching and bowling. As a person who loves the sport of horseshoe pitching and having been born and raised in the town that Curt Day lived in, and having created a web site dedicated to horseshoe pitching, Curt Day's accomplishments and the courts that he left to carry on after his passing; I greatly admire you and wish you the best and continued accomplishments in both sports. I have three pairs of the Deadeye Clydesdale DF horseshoes and two pairs of the Deadeye EZ-Grip horseshoes and wouldn't give any of them up for anything else out in the marketplace. Also, I, as do others, owe you a big THANK YOU for taking the time to offer an open forum of Q&A to your many admirers and horseshoe enthusiasts, just as you took the time to respond to Jim from Jackson's Gap, AL concerning the information on this site.
Of course I had you in mind when I wrote this page. With your cross knowledge of both horseshoe pitching and physics, I, like many others, wished that you had written extensively on the physics and mathematics of horseshoe pitching as you apparently did on the sport of bowling. (I also see that on your site, you offer a video you made on bowling for fellow bowlers). I also thought it would be very difficult to put horseshoe pitching into words, but I gave it a try here. I've stated many times on this page that I am not a great horseshoe pitcher and I have been very up front with that fact. You say that I use some physics terms in my description of how to pitch a horseshoe, but that I really don't use them properly. I do wish you had taken a sentence or two to give an example or two of my misuse of some physics terms. I want to know where I have erred, so I can get this page as close to the truth as possible. I have revised a couple of sections since I first put this page up. One section was on the "wobble" of a shoe. I realized I was wrong originally and I attempted to highlight my error in thinking and correct my statements on it. After receiving a letter from an individual asking me about my sections on the "tilt path" of a pitched horseshoe, I thought about his question and revised my thinking on this and highlighted my writing on this subject with a preface stating that it was not practical with the way most pitchers fly a horseshoe.
My main focus in using physics on this page was to instill an awareness in other horseshoe pitchers that a horseshoe has a center of gravity. This is a concept that I read from a fellow horseshoe pitcher on the internet. I didn't think of it myself! He wrote me after reading this page and his letter is printed below and signed as D. G. (Duane Goodrich). I don't think Mr. Goodrich would mind me crediting him with bringing this matter to my attention. I'm sure he would say that he was taught this concept by someone else, who learned it from someone else, and on and on into the past. I don't think discussing a horseshoe's "center of gravity" is using physics terms improperly. Keeping the center of gravity of a horseshoe on a straight line to the stake does not seem to me to be using physics terms improperly. I also emphasize different ways of putting a turn on the horseshoe. If the shoe is flying a distance of approximately 40 feet, give or take a few feet, I don't see how describing the amount of turn influence on the shoe for the approximate length of 8 feet to 4 feet (or the last 2 feet to 1 foot that it is in the hand) is using physics terms improperly? These simple physics principles are the main concepts delved into on this page!
In your response to Jim, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that "like most sports, it comes down to repetition and feel." I agreed with you 100% when I read that comment. But some of us struggle to come up with that "feel" that great pitchers like you have discovered and some of us struggle with "repetition" which come so natural to pitchers like you, Curt Day, Elmer Hohl, Dan Kuchcinski, Mark Seibold, Alan Francis, Brian Simmons, Ted Allen, Fernando Isais and the great Guy Zimmerman (only to mention a few of our pitching idols and heroes). Some of us, like Jim from Jackson's Gap, AL are looking for systematic structured advice from some of our living great horseshoe pitchers on the physics and mathematics of horseshoe pitching, so we know in our minds what the physics are that we are trying to apply and so our practicing will not be in vain so often as it is for some of us. We may never be able to fully apply this valued knowledge, but we would like to see it presented by one or more of the great living horseshoe pitchers. That was the purpose of my page here! I'm not a great horseshoe pitcher and I don't have a degree in physics, but I don't find it "very difficult to put some things into words" once I take the time to work out the thoughts in my mind.
Walter Ray, because I greatly admire your skills and the time you take with horseshoe pitching enthusiasts, I would like nothing more than to see you write a treatise on the physics and mathematics of horseshoe pitching. Maybe you would be surprised to find that you would express more things the way I have here; and then again, maybe you would use a whole different approach and vocabulary of physics terms. But either way, it would be one of your greatest contributions to the sport. And you have already contributed so much.
Thank you for commenting on this web site. Now get your 1-1/4 turn figured out again by physics or "repetition and feel" and go out there and win some more horseshoe pitching world championships. (Note: If it comes down to you against one of our own Hoosier pitchers, I must confess that, in Indiana, we Hoosiers will be rooting for the home state guy!)
Sincerely and gratefully,
MEN’S DIVISION WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF WALTER RAY WILLIAMS, JR.
1978 Walter Ray Williams, Jr
1980 Walter Ray Williams, Jr
Walter Ray Williams, Jr.
Six Times World Horseshoe
Ray Williams, Jr
Chino, CA 22 – 1 88.1%
1985 Walter Ray Williams, Jr
1991 Walter Ray Williams, Jr
1994 Walter Ray Williams, Jr