The Search For My Perfect Swing — Part 46



Amazon Lead In

The Book entitled “Horseshoe Pitching With Precision” is now an EBook on Amazon. They have chosen to include the first 3 HTML files of the book as an introduction to its’ contents. I’ve chosen to duplicate the information for you the viewer of my blog. Part 45 introduced you to 5 pages from the printed spiral bound book selling on “The Book Patch”. The Cover for both the EBook and spiral bound printed book is shown above. The contents of the first 3 HTML files from the EBook follows.

Amazon — formatted for the Kindle line of eReaders. LINK==> Kindle eReader. Available for purchase now at $5.99.

The Rest of the Ebooks

An Ebook version is also available for virtually every eReader currently available. It can be ordered from … — provides EPUB and MOBI formats downloaded to your device. LINK==> Available now.

Apple’s iBookstore — formatted for the iPad and iPhone with Table of Contents. Available for purchase after 1 September.

Kobo — For the Canadian pitchers formatted for the Kobo eReader. LINK==> Kobo Books. Available now.

Barnes and Noble — formatted for the NOOK.
LINK==> NOOK. Available now.

ReaderStore — formatted for the Sony eReader. LINK==> Sony eReader. Available for purchase after 15 September.

Google ebookstore — formatted for the Google Nexus. LINK==> Nexus. Available now.

*************** EBook Sample *************


I dedicate this book to you, the lover of this sport, the volunteer who comes early, gets the pits ready and leaves late, while we, the competitors, enjoy a wonderful day of pitching horseshoes.  Thank You


Horseshoe Pitching With Precision


Robert E. Rasmussen


This is written from the perspective of a relatively new pitcher, i.e. I began pitching in August of 2010. Not being overly pleased with my pitching, I searched for information that would help me to develop some degree of proficiency. To my surprise there was almost nothing available to help a beginner.

By the close of my first year I’d accumulated no less than fourteen pair of horseshoes and had tried most every conceivable pitching technique possible from the input of well-meaning experienced pitchers. In the tournaments I began to develop some degree of proficiency, but nowhere near my expectations. I began to develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with the game. When things were going well, I loved the game. When things were not going well, I found myself becoming frustrated. Not just because I was not pitching well, but because I did not know “Why” I was not pitching well.

In my continued search for information I ran across (Horseshoes My Way) on the Internet. Unbeknown to myself at the time, I had found the place whereby I could eventually know “Why” the shoe went where it did, and thereby have an idea of how to correct an errant shoe.

Within the pages of this short book you’ll find information that will help you to improve your game and thereby find even more enjoyment in the game. There are ideas on training aids that will help you to troubleshoot and correct problems, as well as diagrams and text that will help you to better understand the mechanics of the game. You might say, “Well, I just pitch shoes for fun.” Great! But it’s more fun to be improving and it can be very frustrating to not pitch well and not know “Why”. I found that the more I understood “Why”, the less my frustration and the greater the enjoyment of the game.

Understanding the content of this book and putting it into practice will not insure that you never have a “bad day”, but it can certainly help you to dig yourself out when things are not going well.

I am thoroughly enjoying my new sport and the friendships that are now such a part of my enjoyment.

This is not just a “pitch” for a book, but an opportunity for me to personally thank its’ author for the many hours and research he put into it.

Dr. John R. Nay, Ph.D.

Prescott Valley, Arizona

Prolog — The “WHY”

This book began in the Fall of 2007. It started on my first night of horseshoe pitching when I scored a grand total of 18 points and 0 ringers for 3 games. 3 years later I had a 60% ringer average.

I also began a blog on WordPress to chronicle my search entitled, “Horseshoes My Way — The Search For My Perfect Swing” URL: To date, the blog contains 45 parts. This section makes 46.

It’s taken six years to gather all of the information. It’s included hours of slow motion video (many now on YouTube), tournament competition in both NHPA and HP Pro Tour events, testing and refining, working in the 3D world, designing and producing horseshoes to improve the ringer average of the struggling horseshoe pitcher.

It has all resulted in a spiral bound book I have entitled, “Horseshoe Pitching With Precision,” and this Ebook with the same name.

It is my belief, “you cannot determine WHY you’ve missed, unless you know WHY you didn’t”. IF you’re willing to put in the time, this book will help you learn a precise way, and determine the “Why”.


Developing a book for publication takes a huge amount of family time. So, I want to thank my wife and family for their unfailing support and continued encouragement. “How’s the book going?” meant they were in for a long discussion on something I was working on, and maybe a trip out to the pit for a little show and tell. They knew how important it was for me to complete this book, and pass on the love I have for the sport of horseshoe pitching. Thanks everyone.


Copyright © 2013 by Robert E. Rasmussen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.

First Edition: June 2013

Printed in the United States of America


“I threw a horseshoe into the air, it came to earth, I knew precisely where.” Author, M.E.

…when you grip a horseshoe to take your first pitch at a stake, every natural instinct you employ to accomplish that objective is wrong, absolutely wrong.

I paraphrased a commonly stated comment by Ben Hogan above. I believe it is just as true for horseshoe pitchers. Many mistakes made early in their learning, are now part of their method.

The book will cover several pitching methods in Section 1. However, every method will have a common theme, they all deal with constants, which are the keys to each method described.

It is not a difficult concept. If you have ever bowled and stepped up on the approach and stood over a specific dot every time you took your stance, that dot was your constant. There are dots or constants on the horseshoe pitching platform as well, I’ll show you where and how to use them.

So, in a nutshell, Constants are those values and positions that are absolute and unvarying. There is an image a little later called, Important Fixed Points that describes the location of all of the fixed points or constants, on the pitching platforms. Using constants in your method will help you determine why your arrival direction was off line. All terms mentioned, will be fully explained as you go.

We will cover one of the most important aspects of these methods…the Visual Alignment Point (VAP). Without the Visual Alignment Point, you will never be certain that you are following the target line which is called the Line of Flight (LOF). It is the VAP and the Pendulum Swing that insures that your horseshoe from setup, address position, swing back and delivery, remains precisely over the Line of Flight from beginning to end. The VAP is a point in the distance that is a constant, that you can always refer to, when you address either stake. We will make sure, through examples, where the VAP is located and how to find it. It is so important, I will start Section 1 with a full explanation of what it is and how to find and use it.

This book is a guide for beginning horseshoe pitchers, as well as the non-beginner. The information throughout this book pertains to right handed pitchers. If left handed, please reverse left to right and right to left (mirror image), that includes approaches.

This book will prove that “you cannot correct what you’re doing wrong, unless you know what you’ve done right”.

It is normally thought that you only need to deal with 3 aspects of horseshoe pitching, i.e., distance, direction and an open shoe at arrival. There are two additional and equally important considerations, drop angle and orientation of the arriving shoe. We will cover all 5.

This book is divided into three separate sections.

Section 0 – is for the horseshoe pitching beginner. It covers everything you need to know to get started such as horseshoes, turn vs flip, practice equipment, pit design, league play, tournaments, score keeping, etc.

Section 1 – deals specifically with three methods of PITCHING and the necessary information needed to support these methods. The purpose of Section 1 is to describe the three pitching techniques that will permit you to troubleshoot your reason(s) for a directional miss. You’ll never have to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!”.

Section 2 – deals with everything else horseshoe related. It will cover helping aids, practice methods, NHPA rules, horseshoes, grips, NHPA sanctioned tournaments, HP Pro Tour tournaments, drop angle, release point, court etiquette, emergency preparation, horseshoe design, high point, pitching grips, etc.

The Beginning — 2007

This book was almost complete, when I realized that I’d lost sight of the very reason for writing this book. You….the Beginner. So, I’ve added Section 0. Section 0 will start at the absolute beginning of everything that a beginner might want to know about horseshoe pitching. I guess it’s fitting that I call it Section 0, as “0%” was my ringer average after my first night of pitching in 2007.

In 2006 I was invited to join the American Legion. I decided to check out the local Legion posts and found that American Legion Post 7 in Crownsville, Maryland had a Winter billiards league and a Summer and Fall horseshoe league. Both sounded interesting, so, I joined the Summer of 2007.

I was too late for the start of the Summer horseshoe league, but, notified the league director that I was interested in the Fall league. I didn’t have a partner, so, he’d find one for me. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know the first thing about horseshoe pitching, just the memory of the sound of horseshoes in the backyard in the 40’s. My Dad had put up lights and horseshoe pits for the neighbors to stop by for an evening of horseshoe pitching after supper. I actually have my Dads old horseshoes, but, thought they might be a bit outdated.

I guess I needed some current horseshoes, so, it was off to the local billiards/darts/horseshoes store. Wow, I didn’t realize there were so many. A total of 8 different pairs. (Actually, the NHPA has 110 designs approved for pitching in 2013). I chose “Sidewinders”. They just felt good. Little did I know that my partner to be was a flipper and, couldn’t flip “Sidewinders.”

The first pitching night arrived and I showed up to meet my partner. My new partner pitched “Mustangs”, so, that’s what we pitched. In 3 games, 108 horseshoes thrown, not one ringer. My ringer average after week 1…0%. This book is the result of that first night in 2007.

Beginner or not, reading and understanding the Goals, is the road map to understanding the 3 Methods described in Section 1.

Method 1 describes a technique that takes advantage of our natural tendencies to swing our arms inward toward center from the right approach only.

Method 2 describes a technique that can be used anywhere on either approach, as long as you follow the geometry that permits it.

Method 3 is directed to the pitcher who, for whatever reason, cannot stride forward. It describes a stationary stance taken at the foul line.

Email me at I welcome any questions about anything in this book or perhaps you just want a clarification about a particular topic. Please contact me. Your questions may help to improve later revisions.


The goal of this book is to describe techniques that can be used to troubleshoot misses. “You will never know why you missed, unless you know precisely why you didn’t”. Doing everything precisely the same way every time, should be your goal. My goal is to define the steps that make it possible.

No matter what your method is, whether one described in this book, or, one of your own, you will have limited success unless you learn to control the three body movements listed below.

If you want to start with one, choose the Head. Your head is the heaviest part of your body and your eyes are attached to it.

Controlling the head – is the most important aspect of pitching horseshoes. The head is the rudder that not only controls the direction, but, the distance traveled by a released horseshoe. The head controls the shoulder, the shoulder the arm, the arm the horseshoe. Move the head and the horseshoe will follow.

Controlling shoulder rotation – uncontrolled shoulder rotation leads to misses left or right. As we walk, our shoulders naturally rotate inward toward center and toward the striding foot. Method 1 will take advantage of the rotation and Methods 2 and 3 will restrict your shoulder rotation.

Controlling footwork – the exact placement of your feet (stance) on the approach will define your body alignment, stride direction, stride length, and balance during delivery.

Geometry Development

The geometry described in Section 1 began with identifying the 3 goals described above. Not one single line, arc, or circle was drawn until all 3 goals above were established first.

Head Movement

The first consideration of the geometry was how to allow the head and eyes to move directly at the stake. This means that during the stride forward the head moves in a straight line to the stake. This is easily monitored in practice and competition.

If you move your head in a straight line at the target you eliminate potential directional problems. If your head moves left or right you will take your swinging arm with it.

Shoulder Rotation

You must learn to tame your shoulder rotation. In Method 1, we’ll use the tendency to rotate toward the striding leg, to your advantage. In Methods 2 and 3, we’ll restrict your shoulder rotation.


The stance and body alignment, is based on a strong and balanced position at setup and permits the stride forward to end in a strong and balanced position. These positions are based on foot positions and body alignments based on classes I had taken in Aikido, and other martial arts.

Geometry Was Next

It was not until all three aspects mentioned above were satisfied, did the development of the geometry begin. There was one final consideration…the delivery of the horseshoe in a straight line from setup, address, back swing and release without deviation. Keeping the arm and shoulder in a vertical plane was required. Using the concept of a pendulum on a grandfather clock was chosen. It swings vertically, in a straight line back and forth, while attached to a non-bending shaft. The concept of a straight Line of Flight (abbreviated LOF) along a vertical plane, was incorporated into the geometry.

It is important to note that the methods described apply equally to a flipping or turning horseshoe.

Good Luck

Tips and Tricks

I am listing a series of Tips and Tricks at the beginning of this book to help you as you progress through your reading and testing. I’ve made no effort to determine an order of importance, they are only numbered for uniqueness. The links in the Introduction should have “introduced” you to the Visual Alignment Point (VAP), Line of Flight (LOF), and Pendulum Swing.

1. Keep a journal, both for practice and competition. Jot down anything you’re doing and how it’s working. Your journal will help to spot tendencies. Things that appear to be unimportant may later turn out to be helpful. The back of this book has a form you can print, to monitor how your horseshoe is arriving at the stake during practice. Check it for tendencies.

2. Develop your own repeatable constants as you progress. For example, how and when you grip the shoe, move to the approach, your swing key, etc. Jot them down in your journal.

3. Concentrate on one thing at a time. For instance, if you’re working on the Line of Flight and you hit the stake. Don’t worry about whether it was a ringer or not. You can always adjust your grip to change the arrival.

4. Develop a mental rhythm or cadence. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, for instance. The Skaters’ Waltz is the perfect music to demonstrate the rhythm and timing of your arm swing and release. Running the timing through your mind is the perfect method to eliminate distractions.

5. During practice and competition, concentrate visually on the bottom of the stake. Your brain has a way of telling your body how much effort to put into throwing something a particular distance.

6. Swing up the stake during your delivery. You are trying to follow a straight line, the Line of Flight, previously mentioned. Continuing up the stake insures that you are following it.

7. Relax. If tension creeps into your swing, all sorts of problems ensue. You won’t be able to take a full back swing, you’ll begin to rush, or start throwing at the stake, or lose your balance, etc.

8. Eliminate distractions. The best way is mentally repeating your cadence and locking your eyes on the bottom of the stake. One occupies your mind and the other your eyes.

9. The geometry in this book is based on your head and eyes moving in a straight line during the delivery. Wherever you’re pitching, pick a spot behind the stake or opposite approach and make sure your head and eyes maintain that relationship during your stride forward.

10. The geometry in this book is also based on the control of your shoulder rotation. Resting your left hand on your left thigh is a good monitor for controlling and monitoring rotation.

11. If a shoe is blocking your way to the stake. Raise your pitching shoulder and throw the shoe as normal. The timing of your release should not change, but, raising your shoulder will increase the height and the length of flight. This extra distance should allow the shoe to arrive above the blocking shoe.

12. Another method of increasing your distance when arriving short, is to try a bit firmer grip, or, a horseshoe with a little higher thumb calk, if you’re a flipper. Either should increase your distance by delaying your release slightly. Raising the shoulder was discussed earlier.

13. Practice by throwing into a 15” tire. It will help to eliminate low flights and hard arrivals.

14. If you develop your own list of Tips and Tricks, jot them down in your journal.

Continue to Part 47 for a description of Method 4, a simple method of pitching from either approach.

E-mail me if you have questions.

Table of Contents


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s