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Horseshoes: a game where ‘ringers’ are a welcome sight

Pahrump has some serious horseshoe players in the valley. Players play at Petrack Park. The park has six pits that actually have some shade on them, which makes it the only pit in the state with shade. The Pahrump horseshoe players are growing in numbers and just had a National tourney at the park on July 12.

The valley horseshoe pitchers are now gearing up for state in Hawthorne, Nevada on August 23. There will be a little warm-up tournament on August 16 at the park prior to state, and the veteran players hope to attract some new members to the fold.

Mike Norton is a local player that has been working hard to get more sanctioned players out in the Pahrump Valley. He is always saying that the more players the better. The small group of horseshoe players he said are always willing to teach new players.

Kim Bradshaw is the latest player to take up the game and she said all the people over at Petrack Park at the horseshoe pits have been really nice about teaching her and giving her advice. Bradshaw hopes that more people will come join them, especially women.

“Mike Doc and Don got me into this. I just met these guys at the park and the desire to compete and the game kept me coming back for more. I just went to the park and saw their sign. I hung out and asked question and just started coming out more and more,” Bradshaw said. “Men always played horseshoes when I was growing up and you didn’t see women play that often. Now at the park we don’t care who comes out. I have seen four different women come out, but it needs to be more consistent.”

Bradshaw said the sport of horseshoes can grow just by building more pits. It’s a “build it and they will come” type situation. “If we got more pits out here, we could have the state championships here as well as bigger tournaments. People do play it out here, but they just don’t play the game as an organized sport. They do it at picnics and who wants to go pitch horseshoes on a Saturday afternoon in the summer when it’s 110 degrees? Of course our pits have shade and that’s nice,” Bradshaw remarked.

Bradshaw believes Mike Norton is working hard to expand the amount of players in the valley. She said horseshoes does not matter if you are a male or female. Women do get to throw from the 30 foot line. If you are over 70, you can pitch from the 30 foot line. The men’s line is 40 feet.

Ask any player and they will tell you throwing horseshoes is exercise. “People would be surprised at the amount of exercise one gets playing shoes. You have to walk back and forth to get the shoes. If you don’t sit down and you’re throwing, then for two hours you will be walking back and forth. It’s mild exercise and good aerobics because it has you moving around. It does not take your breath away,” Bradshaw told the PVT.

Bradshaw has only been throwing for a year as a sanctioned player. “I am having a blast,” she said.

Bradshaw loves all sports, but has spent a lot of her life playing softball. She said she played a lot of softball in her younger years in Las Vegas and now that she is retired from the City of Las Vegas she plays with senior softball leagues.

The softball throwing has helped her with her horseshoe pitching.

“I pitched a little bit and I use the same motion. I have this little flip and it just slides in,” she explained.

Becoming a sanctioned player in the valley is quite simple. All one has to do is pay $26 and you’re in and after that it is just a matter of showing up at the sanctioned tournaments to get a percentage. All sanctioned players are ranked.

Bradshaw said the first thing one does as a sanctioned player is establish a percentage. This percentage is based on how many ringers you make out of 100 pitches. A ringer is when both ends of the shoe are past the stake and the shoe surrounds the stake. Players receive three points for ringers. “Getting a double ringer in horseshoes is just as good as hitting a home run,” Bradshaw said excitedly.

She said her pitching percentage is 34 percent. The pitching percentage is like the batting average of horseshoes. People near 50 percent are really good. The highest game she has ever pitched was 47 percent.

“A sanctioned tournament is the place where you get a percentage, so at the Pahrump Festival when anyone can get in we don’t do percentages,” she said. “In my last tournament I threw 45 percent game, a 17 percent game and my last game I pitched a 33 percent. I won that tournament in the ‘B’ Division. Since I have been playing horseshoes I have discovered that the game is me. It’s all about you and not a team.”

On September 28 at the Fall Festival there will be horseshoes. Locals pitch on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. and most Saturdays at noon at the pits next to the pool in Petrack Park. If you need horseshoes there are always extras at the pits.

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