Flying Horseshoes
Flying Horseshoes Newsletter
Official publication of the Clinton County Horseshoe Club in Frankfort, Indiana

edited by Kenny Wolf

Selected articles from issues
May 2006 through August 2011
Shoes Scored %
Another very important statistic is the Shoes Scored %.  Whether a shoe scores for a ringer or one point, this stat shows how pitchers make the most shoes count for some score.  The leader at this point in time is Frank Adams scoring on 82% of his shoes.  Sam Payne is racking points on 79% of his shoes.  3rd is Roger Impson with 74% of his shoes scoring.  Kenny Wolf is presently 4th with 71%, Don Spray, Sr. is 5th with 69%, Ron Stockberger is 6th with 68% and Pete Smart is 7th, scoring on 66% of his shoes.

Percent of Shoes Scoring Either Ringer or One Point
For those who consider themselves once a week horseshoe pitchers (not practicing between league nights), a very important statistic to follow in their own game is the percent of their shoes that score a ringer or one point.  After 6 weeks of league pitching, 13 pitchers score on 50% or more of the shoes they throw for the opposite stake.  At this point in time, the leader is Sam Payne scoring on 79% of his shoes.  That means nearly 8 out of every 10 shoes that Sam throws land within 6” of the stake.  Frank Adams is presently at 77%.  Roger Impson along with Pete Smart are at 69%, followed by Keith Russell, Don Spray and Kenny Wolf at 68%.  The six other pitcher scoring on 50% to 60% of their shoes are:  Ron Stockberger, David Sturgill, Larry Fish, Gary Furr, Wes Hickson and David Furr.
If a pitcher scores one point on half the shoes thrown in a game (15 out of 30), then they will average 15 points or better, depending on how many of those shoes are ringers (worth an additional 2 points each).  This is a good goal to set without worrying about how many ringers are made.  “What percent of my shoes can I score on?”  This is definitely a statistic to follow on your own personal line of statistics.  This has nothing to do with whether one’s shoe is open from flipping or turning.  It only has to do with getting the shoe within 6” of the stake.  In fact with the history of horseshoe pitching, this was all the early pitchers were trying to do, score points close to the stake.  The original stakes back in 1919 were only 2” in height out of the ground and only when some pitchers began encircling the stake did they begin making the stake longer and giving bonus points for ringers.  MAKE EACH HORSESHOE COUNT!

A Few Words Concerning Standings
In a past newsletter, I emphasized that how a team does in the league and in the standings as the year goes along is part skill and part luck.  For example:  A team with two pitchers who have averages of 36 and 29 will have handicaps of  32 and 36 respectively.  The pitcher with the 36 will have a 32 handicap for a game average score of 68 points. The pitcher with the 29 average will carry a handicap of 38 for a game average score of 67.  The two pitchers as a team will have a team average score of 135.  That means if both pitchers pitch their average, their team score will be 135 points.  And with a little simple math, if one pitches 3 points below his or her average and the other pitches 2 points below average, then the team score (with handicap) will be 130 (135 less 5).
   This team will still be favored by a few points per game if they are pitching against two pitchers who average 17 and 12 points.  With handicaps of 49 and 54, this team’s game average score will be 132.  So going into a series with the 135 game average team, if both teams pitch exactly their averages, then the final score will be 135 to 132.
   Imagine if the higher average team happens to pitch 2 points below average and the other team pitches 2 points above.  In this case the 17 and 12 point average pitchers will win the game by a score of 134 to 133.  Pitchers are going to pitch above average close to half the time and below their average close to half the time.
   Sometimes, it seems no matter how hard a team tries, the other team always chooses them to pitch above average.  That is the luck part of the league season.  You can only go out and pitch your best as a team.  If you continue to pitch your average or a few points above, you will position yourselves to win some games with scores of 132 to 136 points.  But you will need the other team to pitch a few points below their average.
   If your team has been struggling to get points each night, so far, just be patient.  The season is 16 weeks long and nothing is sweeter than beating a team later on in the season that handed your team a 0-4 or 1-3 decision early on when their pitchers were pitching well and your team was still trying to find their stable team averages.
   On the other hand, teams at the top have to keep pitching above average to stay on top and soon begin losing their handicaps.  Also, everyone they pitch against wants to beat them into the ground.  It happens!
   Just continue to try and improve your own game, enjoy the fellowship each night with your partner and your opponents and get all the points you can get close to the stake.  Some have been with our league for several seasons.  This is my 5th season and I’ve seen just about everything happen “from me choking in tight games to me and my partner pulling rabbits out of the hat in important games.”  And both experiences were good for me in the long run.  We were all able to laugh about it later.  Sometimes much later for me!
   We certainly welcome all the new pitchers and substitutes who are pitching with us this year.  We want to see our gatherings grow and we want everyone to have a good time each Thursday night when we try to make the stakes ring.

Close Only Counts In Horseshoes
The chart to the right shows everyone’s shoe scoring percentage.  In other words, a 50% means the pitcher scores either a ringer or 1 point on half the shoes pitched.  Instead of thinking of a ringer as 3 points, think of it as 1 point for a close shoe and a bonus of 2 points for being a ringer.  If you are a casual horseshoe pitcher, pitching only on League night and not practicing all week long, as some do; then focus on scoring a point with as many shoes as you can.  If you get a ringer, then give yourself 2 more bonus points.  Score with those shoes and watch your average improve and your games turn into wins.
   A quick way to use math to figure your average goal is this:  30 shoes are pitched in a game.  If you score on 60% of your shoes, that gives you 18 points.  If 3 of those shoes are ringers, give yourself 6 bonus points.  A 24 point average with 10% ringers (3 ringers per game) will mean you are scoring on 60% of your shoes pitched.
   For you day after day practicing pitchers, 66% shoes scored, plus 6 ringers per game would be 20 points + 12 bonus points; or 32 points average.

How Are Handicaps Figured?
This article will explain how our handicaps are figured and then show an easy way to figure a handicap without using any charts (doing it all in your head).
   The total possible points a pitcher can score in a game is 90 points with 30 shoes pitched.  If 30 ringers are thrown (on every pitch), 3 X 30 = 90.  We use a scratch score of 80% of the possible highest score.  80% of 90 is 72.  Therefore, 72 is the average that a pitcher would have to have to have NO handicap.
   We will use an average of 22 to show how to find the handicap for 22.  The formula is to subtract the 22 from 72.  This gives us  50.  We do not give 100% of the difference to the pitcher.  So 50 is not the handicap for a 22 average.  We give 90% of the difference to the pitcher for the handicap.
   So, 90% of 50 (the difference) is 45.  The pitcher gets all but 10% or 5 points of the difference.  A pitcher with a 22 average will have a total of 67 points if their average of 22 points is thrown and the 45 points handicap is added.
   Now the way to figure a handicap in one’s head without using a calculator or a chart:  An average of zero to 01 points will have a handicap that adds up to 64 points.  An average from 02 to 11 will have a score that adds up to 65 (64 plus the 10’s place of 11 or 1).  An average of 12 to 21 will have a score that adds up to 66 (64 plus the 10’s place of 21 or 2); and so on.
   The following is the chart in the clubhouse that is available for anyone who wants one:
00 to 01 avg plus hdcp? = 64
02 to 11 avg plus hdcp? = 65
12 to 21 avg plus hdcp? = 66
22 to 31 avg plus hdcp? = 67
32 to 41 avg plus hdcp? = 68
42 to 51 avg plus hdcp? = 69
52 to 61 avg plus hdcp? = 70
62 to 71 avg plus hdcp? = 71
72+ avg has no handicap

   Or for most of our pitchers:  Up to 11, average plus handicap will add up to 65; up to 21 average will add up to 66; up to 31 average will add up to 67; up to 41 average will add up to 68 and Sam Payne’s average plus his handicap will add up to 69 (Sam is currently averaging 45 points per game with a handicap of 24).
If you look at your scoresheet before the pitching begins on a given night and your average and handicap do not add up to 65, 66, 67, 68 or 69, then someone has given you the wrong hancicap.  Know your total!

Pitching Goals for Most Pitchers
This article will give you a hint at guessing what ringer percentage a pitcher is pitching by knowing their average points per game.  Also, it will give some goals for pitchers to try and reach in their own games.
   First, begin to think of a ringer as not just 3 points, but rather 1 point for a close shoe and 2 bonus points for being a ringer around the stake.  Now, having made that observation, a pitcher who gets half their shoes within 6 inches of the stake, but has no ringers, will average 15 points per game.  If your average is currently below 15 points per game, make it your goal to score a point on half your 30 shoes.  If you get a ringer or two, then you will gain an extra 2 to 4 points bonus for 17 to 19 points per game.
   If you have been able to average 15 points a game for a while, try getting 2/3 of your shoes in scoring range.  This would be 20 shoes scored out of 30 thrown.  No ringers are needed for a 20 point average.
   When you reach that level and want to set your sights higher, shoot for an average of 26 points per game.  To get this average, you need to score on 20 of your shoes (2/3) and need ringers on 3 of those 20 shoes (3 X 2 = 6) for an additional 6 bonus points.  This would be throwing 10% ringers and averaging 26 points per game.
   Now you can see what it would take to average 30 points per  game.  You need to score on 2/3 of your shoes for 20 points and hit 5 ringers (2 bonus points per ringer) for an additional 10 points.
   What ringer percentage is Jim Tomlin likely pitching if his current average is 45 points per game?  He is probably scoring a point on about 23 of his 30 shoes.  45 less 23 = 22 bonus points.  Divide 22 by 2 (2 bonus points per ringer) and you get 11 ringers per game.  11 ringers per game is about 37% ringers.  (I sure hope I don’t jinx Jim by using him as an example—ha ha!)
   In my example, I have averaged 34 points per game the last two seasons.  After 3 weeks this year, my average is 30 points per game.  (There has been no sandbagging here...don‘t listen to Johnston, Stockberger or Payne!)  I generally score on 21 shoes (70% of my shoes), so 9 bonus points means I’m averaging about 4-1/2 ringers per game.  My personal goal is 9 to 10 ringers per game, so I’m short and quite disappointed with my own efforts.  But on the other hand, I will enjoy the extra handicap of 37 points (30 + 37 = 67).  If I can get up to a 32 average, my average and handicap will add up to 68 and I will be up there with the likes of Ron Stockberger, George Large and Sam Payne.  Although Sam will probably break through to 42+ average and join Tomlin’s 69 club.
   That is how it all works folks.  This newletter is meant to inform and motivate each and every pitcher to be the best he or she can be.  But first, just have fun!

Six Things to Know to Keep Score of Games
Basically there are only 6 things to know in order to keep the score of games.  The top portion of the pitcher’s 15 innings of two shoes pitched per inning is the only thing that needs to be recorded while the game is in progress.  The totals can be added up after the game.  There are only six results a pitcher can have when two shoes are pitched.  The pitcher can score 6 points, 4 points, 3 points, 2 points, 1 point or no points.  We indicate ringers with a 0 and we indicate a point with a 1 and we indicate a no score with a –.  Therefore the following 6 notations are all that are necessary to record a pitcher’s results in the upper portion of an inning frame:
6 points = 00
4 points = 01
3 points = 0—
2 points = 11
1 point  = 1
0 points = —
If the scorer prefers to just write in the total points scored by a pitcher, that will work as well.  The bottom of the inning frame is where we show the up-to-date score of each pitcher.  So if the pitcher scored 2 points in the first inning, 3 points in the second inning and zero points in the third inning, then the pitcher’s total in the bottom of the third inning frame will be 5.  As stated above, this can be done at the end of the game, if the scorer prefers.

Court Safety Issue No Laughing Matter
and Court Etiquette is Just Plain Considerate

In the July 21 meeting, before pitching, President Sam Payne held a meeting concerning court safety.  His emphasis was that anyone having trouble consistently reaching the clay pits with their shoes, needs to step up as far as they need to, up to 30 feet if necessary, in order to insure the safety of all other pitchers on the courts.
  Everyone misses the pit occasionally, but what we are talking about here is the issue of missing more than average.  When a shoe is released and you realize it is not going to reach the pit, yell loudly something like “look out”, so everyone around you is alerted to a possible wild bouncing horseshoe.  Afterwards, apologize to everyone around you by uttering something as simple as “I’m sorry about that”.  Not only will this be an act of court etiquette, but when one gets tired of yelling “look out” an d “I’m sorry about that”; one is more likely to take it upon oneself to adjust their pitching range by moving up a few feet at a time until the wild shoes in your game are nearly eliminated.  If a pitcher does not act responsibly by finding their own comfort range, they will eventually be asked by other pitchers, or our president, to move up.  With all the work that has gone into improving our courts by the city and hopefully by some private donations in the future, we all need to keep safety of paramount importance.
  Do not pitch your horseshoes if any kids or adults are directly in line with the stake you are pitching at on the other side of the fence.  A horseshoe can hit the top of the stake and go on a wild journey straight back and over one fence and even potentially over two  fences into the other courts.  Again, yell out a warning cry whenever you see this about to happen.  Better wrong in your guess, than have someone seriously hurt over a wild shoe.  I’ve been hit in the side of the head myself from such a “top of the stake jumping shoe” and I’m very lucky that I did not suffer permanent damage to my head????  not humor
  Onto the issue of court rules and etiquette. From the NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association) web site, we will quote this rule in its entirety “Section D – Position of Contestants During Delivery
  The Pitcher – During the entire address and release of a shoe, the contestant must not start or step completely outside the platform with either foot.  Exceptions:      (a) A contestant observing the thirty–seven-foot (37’) foul line may start directly behind the platform provided they step within it when they release the shoe.
    (b) A physically challenged contestant must have at least some contact with the platform and be completely behind the twenty-seven-foot (27’) foul line when the shoe is released.
1. The Opponent – When not pitching, the opponent shall stand quietly and stationary on or behind the same court’s opposite pitching platform and at least two feet (2’) behind the contestant who is pitching from the same or adjacent court. In mixed-distance pitching, a short-distance contestant who pitches first must return to this position; on or behind the forty-foot (40’) pitching platform.
2. The Contestants – If both contestants use the same pitching platform to deliver their shoes, the contestant pitching first should cross over (in front of the pit) to the other platform and then move back to the position described in # 1, above. As the first contestant is crossing over in front, the second contestant should be crossing over and onto the same platform, from the rear. If the contestants use opposite platforms, the contestant who pitches first should step directly back to the position described in # 1, above.”
  If we wish to pitch in NHPA/INHPA tournaments, we must learn and abide by this rule in league play.
  Another common sense act of court etiquette is to not talk while your opponent is pitching.  If you want to compliment him or her on a nicely thrown shoe, you should really wait until after the second shoe is thrown.  We are out there to have fun, but horseshoe pitching does take some focus to get the best out of our own games.  Does this mean you can’t talk to your opponent during your games?  No, unless your opponent hasn’t answered anything you have said for the last 15 minutes or so, you can assume he or she will engage in conversation while his or her team mate and opponent at the other end is pitching.  In other words, once you have both picked up your shoes from the pit and announced the score of the toss to the scorekeeper, you should both courteously keep quiet while the other is pitching.  If you like to talk while you are pitching your own shoes, then that is another matter.
  Curt Day was very hard to engage in conversation while he was on the court pitching.  On the courts, he was all business.  Off the courts, he would talk to you about your game and answer questions you might have. I once pitched beside him in 1975 and threw two nice ringers.  He complimented me by saying something like “nice shoes”, but he waited until I hit them both.  Of course, I was so delighted to be complimented by the 3 times world champion that night that I didn’t hit another ringer while pitching beside him.  But that was my fault, not his!
  You’ll figure out their feelings about talk while you each have the shoes, by observing how they react when you do talk.  But try your darn best not to talk while they are pitching their two shoes.  If they don’t mind talking while the folks at the other end are pitching, then enjoy the conversations.  That is partly why we are out there!!!

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