This has been a very interesting 2009 pitching season. I had set my goal for the year to finish with a 60% ringer average. I didn’t quite make it, but, I’m happy with a 55.67% ringer average. I participated in every tournament in Maryland, with one more this coming Saturday.
I’ve had a great tournament season, with some ups and some downs. As of this date, I have accumulated the most points in the Maryland Points Challenge, based on tournament finishing placement. This is a nice award developed by the Maryland Horseshoes Pitchers Association to encourage participation in sanctioned Maryland tournaments.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time working on my horseshoe designs. Lots of testing, refining, retesting and I’ve finally completed three (3) additional designs. I’m hoping to send off the new designs to the NHPA for approval within the week. Presently, they will be called the “GrabIt”, “GrabIt PB” and “Cyclops”. All designs are going forward with copyright protection. I have recorded all three shoes with high speed video. The GrabIt and GrabIt PB have the same basic inner design as the Viking, but the outer perimeter is different. The Cyclops is unique, as it has absolutely no location on the inside of the shoe that is square to the line of flight and thus, cannot bounceback.
My goal has always been to provide a horseshoe that will reduce bounceback. However, I’ve always had the Elder, Youth and Woman pitcher in mind as I design. That’s where the “Grabit PB” comes in. I wanted to design a shoe that was light, less than 2 pounds 6 ounces, easily gripped with small fingers and perfectly balanced. The “PB” stands for “Perfect Balance”. The shoe is a little smaller, approximately the size of the Magnet, but, is perfectly balanced front to back. It looks like the smaller sibling to the GrabIt. As soon as I have the copyrights, I’ll publish the photos and the high speed video taken at 420 frames per second of all three.
Designing horseshoes is the easy part. Going into production is much more difficult and expensive. Each time I create a pattern and have it cast as a prototype it costs me $80. To bring the price down to an amount that the pitching public will pay is a much more difficult task. It starts with a master mold for the caster, which is created by a patternmaker, which costs about $1,000 per model. The caster than casts, cleans up, paints, boxes and ships to the customer. Factor in order taking, taxes, web development, etc. and you’ve just about eaten up any profit. Finally, the issue of liability comes into play. The only way you can protect yourself is by incorporating. Now you have to factor in the cost of incorporating, probably Subchapter S, business license, collecting and paying taxes, etc. I forgot to mention the $300 licensing fee paid to the NHPA for each design, for the first calendar year, for each design. Subsequent, years are $100 per design.
So, what to do is up in the air. I’m still trying to decide which way to go. Naturally, selling enough horseshoes to recoup expenses is the goal, in order to go into production. I may simply pay the $300 licensing fee, choose the design that best suits me and use my prototype pair. I’ve already had a number of requests for purchasing the Viking when available, but, I just don’t know. If I do decide to go into production, it will be to make one or more shoes available for the coming year. Thus, the licensing fee will cover 2010.
When practicing with the Viking, I noticed that my grip was a bit different over the Imperial Stingers. I had a tendency to exert too much influence by the middle, ring and little finger of my pitching hand. I needed an aid that would show what was happening during the swing. I also needed to insure that I was swinging down the target line directly at the stake. I want to find a laser that would generate a line that was horizontal and vertical. A web search for an inexpensive laser pointer that created a line directed me to a small laser distributed by PSI Woodworking. Amazon carried it for $15.95, plus shipping. It is identified as the PSI LLINEMS2 Laser Line/Dot Cutting Guide. I was not interested in the dot beam. I made a holder for it and mounted it on one of my Vikings. Works perfect. It has two mounting screws on the top that can be loosened and the laser beam can be projected either horizontal or vertical. A few minutes of practice and I could see what was happening. I was not keeping the horseshoe square to the line of flight. Secondly, moving to the vertical line, I was able to see exactly where the shoe should be aligned at address and how to make sure that I remained on the line of flight. I’ll be using this simple device during the winter months for indoor practice. Picture below.