Players stake out territory on horsehoe courts
To contact the Beloit Horseshoe Club at 640 W. Ravine Drive, call (608) 365-9901.
Modern people may not have much use for horseshoes, but there are still plenty of people using them for recreation. The Beloit Horseshoe Club was established in 1985 and has a steady membership of between 75 and 80 members. Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Tuesday's Janesville Gazette.
BELOIT TOWNSHIP Metal clanked as Jim Tollefson and others heaved horseshoes at stakes 40 feet away.
Tollefson swung his arm three times before pitching what he called a flip shoe.
“I flip it. When I release, I throw so it’ll turn one time then hopefully lands around the stake,’’ the 71-year-old Janesville man said.
Nearby, Paul Wilson used a different pitching technique—the three-quarter turn.
“I grip the right side of the shoe, and mine goes around this way and straightens out,’’ he demonstrated.
What’s the best technique?
“It’s just whatever feels best,’’ said Wilson, 78, of Janesville, who wore a comfortable T-shirt, pair of khaki shorts, tennis shoes and a Beloit Horseshoe Club logo cap.
“The idea is to let the weight of the shoe do most of the work so you don’t have to furnish so much power,’’ said Earl Paulson, a founding member of the Beloit Horseshoe Club, where Tollefson and Wilson joined eight other men during a recent Monday Morning Old Timers League. From 9:30 a.m. to noon, they pitched five games—40 shoes a game.
The club established in 1985 has 13 outdoor and six indoor courts for year-round play on 3 acres at the corner of County Q and Haborn Drive.
Paulson, who is league and tournament director at the Beloit club, said club membership has remained steady at between 75 and 80 members. But, he noted that 87 new people competed at the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association’s World Horseshoe Pitching Championships in Springfield, Ill. from July 27 to Aug. 8 Nine local club members participated.
Horseshoes is something a person can play most of his or her life for exercise, recreation and the sport, Paulson said.
For Tellefson, who began pitching just over a decade ago, the appeal lies in the competition and camaraderie.
“I just enjoy pitching, staying active and talking to the guys. You get to meet a lot of different people,’’ he said.
Wilson, who has been pitching for four decades, likes that his hobby “doesn’t cost much money, and you get to meet a lot of nice people.’’
To get started, all that’s needed is a pair of forged steel horseshoes. The club buys from horseshoe companies online and sells them at a cost of $37 to $80 a pair, depending on the brand.
“They do break, and it can get expensive if you start breaking them on impact with the stake,” Paulson said.
“I broke three pair last year,’’ one league member said.
Some players also wear a glove—golf gloves can be used—for a better grip and hand protection, Paulson said.
Joining the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association costs $20 a year while the Wisconsin Horseshoe Pitchers Association annual fee is $25.
At the Beloit club, league play can cost as little as $5 each day of league play for 15 weeks, Paulson said.
For those who don’t want to commit to league play, the club offers open play at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
“You don’t have to be sanctioned or be a member (of the club or any association). You just pay $3 and play until you get tired, which is usually five games,’’ Paulson said.
Wilson encouraged people to give it a try.
“Pick up a shoe and just come and have fun. You don’t need to be a professional to do the game. Just walk in and play. It takes a bit of coordination, but just give it a good level swing when working on (pitching) your shoe.”
Another league member offered this advice: “Practice, practice, practice. Play, play, play.’’