Aiming for the pin and hoping for a 'ringer' - InfoNews

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Aiming for the pin and hoping for a 'ringer'

Don Myrfield throws a horseshoe at the Vernon club.
March 29, 2019 - 6:00 PM


VERNON - It may conjure up images of the prairies and cowboys kicking back after a long day on the ranch, but the sport of horseshoes is still alive and kicking in the Okanagan.

Now in its 39th year, the Vernon Horseshoe Club is getting its 16 pits ready for the upcoming season, which will see just over 30 cub members meet twice a week at the Alexi Park Drive clubhouse.

Club president Don Myrfield picked up his first horseshoe about a decade ago when a friend invited him to the club and hasn't looked back since.

"I didn't know beans about it before I played," Myrfield said. "I started and I got better, each year you play you get a little bit better."

The origins of the sport date back longer than anyone can remember, but today's horseshoes does have a set of rules and regulations.

Each player throws two shoes in unison and attempts to get a 'ringer' - the term used when a shoe goes around the pin. A successful throw scores three points, while getting a shoe within six inches of the pin scores one. Players throw from the 40-foot line, unless they're over 65 years old, female or a youth player, then they throw from the 30-foot line.

The Vernon Horseshoe Club has 16 pits.
The Vernon Horseshoe Club has 16 pits.

Myrfield won't say his age but admits he throws from the 30-foot line, and is also adamant, "It's not just an old peoples' sport."

Nor is it male dominated, the club has a roughly 50/50 mix of men to women and Myrfield points out the club's top two players are both women.

Players throw 50 shoes per game, with each player having an array of different throwing techniques, with the aim of getting more ringers than their competitor.

"Most of us pitch a flip shoe, there are people that throw it sideways and it does a three-quarter turn, and some people throw it underhand and flip it 10 times before goes onto the pit," Myrfield said.

Club member Dwight Cousins uses the flip technique but admits in one game he might throw 15 ringers, the next game 10 and the next game two. To even differences out between abilities, like in golf, horseshoes has a system of handicaps. But with club membership costing $45 a year - the fraction of the price of one round of golf - the similarities with golf end there.

So what makes a person good at horseshoes?

"Practice," Myrfield said. "It's the same as anything else."

Dwight gets a shoe on target.
Dwight gets a shoe on target.

And what brings both players to the club twice a week to throw shoes?

They both say the social aspect of the club and the game is in many ways what makes it.

"As soon as I joined the social attitude here was really good, they welcome you right in," Cousins said who joined the club three years ago. Unlike golf where nobody will play with you unless your good, horseshoe players will throw shoes with all abilities, he said.

The club holds two tournaments each year and players come from clubs around the Okanagan to compete. The club is also hoping to bring the 2020 Provincial Horseshoe Championship to Vernon next year.

It's easy to see the friendly nature of the sport as Myrfield and Cousins throw shoes together. It's also easy to see why they continue to play, as once you've thrown a couple of shoes, there's an immediate desire to better yourself and thrown again and again.

The Vernon Horseshoe Club meet Tuesdays and Thursday at 7 p.m. All are welcome. For more information go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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