Designing and Constructing Your Own Quoit Pits
On this page you will find all the specifications for constructing quoit pits in your yard or other recreational area,
using USQA sanctioned dimensions.
Four important considerations to make before deciding where to place your pits:
Pick out a nice level area in your yard.
Pits are usually placed in an open, grassy area, although any type of ground surface will do. A shady area is best if you plan to throw most often during the daytime, although it may take a little more effort digging out pits among the tree roots. If possible, try to chose a low-lying area that is more likely to hold moisture in the ground, so long as it is not wet or swampy. This will help keep your clay moist as well, cutting down on watering. If your pits are out in the open sun, you may want to orient them North-South so the setting sun doesn't glare into players eyes looking West in the early evenings.
pits covered with wooden lids, electric spotlights, and beverage shelves on the fence.
If you have a fence or wall anywhere in your yard, try to set the pits along side of it.
At my previous residence, seen at left, I located my pits along a 6 foot stockade fence bordering my property. Place your pits 3 to 6 feet away from the fence and parallel to it. this gives you the opportunity to build shelving next to each of the pits, for convenient placement of snacks, beverages, and smoking articles. In this photo, I have my "Beer Shelves" mounted slightly behind each pit, using 8 foot lengths of 1x6 lumber mounted on top of the exposed fence posts. I like to down a few pints and puff on a good cigar while throwing, and I'm able to set them down in a convenient spot when its my turn to throw.
Hey, it's a party, isn't it?
Place your pits in a location convenient to electric service.
The majority of the time, I don't really have an opportunity to throw quoits until later in the evening, usually after dark. I work during the day and have my eternal "Honey-Do" list to work on in the evening. So, I mounted a double spotlight on a 10 foot high 4x4 post along the fence, halfway between the pits, and ran a buried electric line back to the house for power. I found that incandescent spotlight bulbs illuminate the pits MUCH better than floodlight bulbs, so I recommend purchasing spots, at least 100 watt bulbs. Halogen lights can be used, but they have a very wide coverage area and tend to create a lot of glare unless they are mounted very high in the air. I also like to install an outdoor receptacle on my light posts for convenience, possibly for a radio or "Boom Box" to play music.
Lastly, don't forget to invite the neighbors over.
Especially if you throw into the late evening, you are better off having your neighbors pitching with you rather than to have them trying to sleep in bed or relax in their backyard while you're making noise until all hours of the night! Those 4 pound rings of metal slamming against a steel pin or another quoit makes quite a loud "TINK" , not to mention the ruckus caused by cheers and moans of the players as they throw!
Quoit Court Layout
between Pins is 21 feet
Pins are made of solid steel rods 18 inches long and 5/8 to 3/4 inches in diameter
Do not use hollow pipe for your pins, as they will not withstand the abuse from the heavy quoits striking them. The longer the pins, the less they will move when struck by the quoits. If the soil allows you to drive a pin longer than 18" into the ground, I would recommend using a longer pin. My pins are made from stainless steel, and are 24 inches long and 3/4" in diameter. In addition, I have an 8 inch square stainless steel plate welded perpendicular around the middle of each pin to give them more grip in the ground, so they do not tilt or move as much from the constant strikes of the heavy quoits.
The illustrations further down this page detail how to set Recessed pits into the ground. This is the recommended method for installing your pits. The main advantage of this style of pit is that all portions of the pit - the box, the pins, and the wooden lids - are installed below the height of your lawn mower blades. This method makes for an attractive low-profile solution for pits in a grassy area of your yard, which can be driven right over with a lawn tractor, creating less mowing obstructions in your yard. The only drawback to this layout is that you cannot see into the front-most portion of each pit when standing at the opposing pit, since the clay is recessed below the front wall of the wooden box. Any quoit pitched into the front portion of the box is not visible to the pitchers, but since this area is out of point-scoring range anyway, it should not be considered much of a disadvantage as is really not an issue.
It is not necessary to setup your pits in a recessed format. Other options include setting the box even with the ground and filling the clay level to the edge of the box, thus creating the advantage of an unobstructed view of the clay, but also causing the pin to stick up above the level of the box. The disadvantages of this style of pit is that your mowing obstruction now becomes a solid steel pin in the path of your mower blade, and you cannot cover the pit with a wooden lid unless you have a hole drilled in it to fit the pin snugly. You could use something other than wood to cover the pits, such as damp burlap bags or plastic sheeting, but this is not overly attractive in a well-kept area of your yard.
Another option is to set the pits a few inches above the ground and fill clay to the top of the box. This makes the entire box somewhat intrusive in your yard, with all the disadvantages of the flush pit, but it is still a valid option. Here, there is no grass around the pits to worry about mowing.
Finally, if you decide not to put wooden boxes in the ground at all, you can just put the pins directly into the ground, after cutting out a 4 foot diameter area of sod in the grass. You can leave the existing dirt in the pit and loosen it with a roto-tiller before play, or you can remove a few inches of the dirt and replace it with clay. This is the easiest way of constructing your quoit pits, but it is not usually the best surface to play on. This type of pit is best suited when you need to build multiple sets of pits for a tournament, when a large number of wooden pits would be too expensive, too much work, and too much maintenance.
Constructing a Recessed Pit
Pits are constructed of 2x8 or 2x10 CCA treated lumber, forming a 4-sided box frame with an INSIDE measurement of 36 inches square (3 feet by 3 feet).
Dig holes in ground deep enough to set the top of the boxes less than 1 inch above the ground surface, making sure you have the required 21 foot distance between the center points of the two boxes. With this proper measurement, the front edge of the boxes will be 17 feet 9 inches apart.
Do NOT put a bottom in your box, or seal off the clay from the ground below, as the clay naturally draws moisture from the surrounding soil when the pits are covered. This will keep the clay soft and pliable enough that you do not have to water it down nearly as often.
I would not recommend using 2x6 or 2x4 inch lumber because the box will not be as firmly planted into the ground. The clay has a tendency to shift backward and pile up in the rear of the pit due to the force of the pitched quoits. Over a prolonged period of time, this pushes on the boxes and causes them to tilt inward toward each other - the rear of the box raises up out of the ground and the front sinks below the ground. The deeper the boxes, the less often you have to dig them up and straighten them again!
Dig out the inside area of each box to a depth of 8 to 10 inches to accommodate the proper depth of clay. Fill the box with 4 to 6 inches of soft clay so that the top surface of the clay is no higher than 4 inches from the top of the box.
It is very important to find a good quality clay for your pits. You'll need 9 cubic feet of clay to fill 2 boxes at 3 foot by 3 foot by 6 inches. . It is cheapest to find naturally occurring clay in your local soils. Fortunately in Lancaster County there is a lot of clay in the ground, since it is situated along the Susquehanna River Basin. I obtained some of my clay at a construction area along a local highway where they were dumping excavated materials. I also found excellent clay in a housing development near my home where the ground had been excavated for basement foundations. Finding a place where the ground has already been dug up is a major advantage and saves a tremendous amount of labor on your part. You would be surprised at how much work it takes to dig and collect 9 cubic feet of clay by hand, since it is usually so dense and tacky a shovel will hardly penetrate it! If clay is not readily available in your local soil, you might be able to purchase it at a Lawn and Garden store or Builders Supply by the bag, or possibly from an Art Supply store that sells clay for pottery.
Drive the pins in the exact center of the box so they measure the required 21 foot separation between them. The top of the pin should protrude 4 inches above the surface of the clay.
Make sure to keep the top of the pin flush or slightly below the top surface of the wooden box frame, as shown in the side view diagram above. This will allow your lids (see below) to fit flush onto the top of the boxes for a tight seal.
Wooden lids or other coverings MUST be used to cover the pits when not in use.
This is a necessity, as it prevents the clay from drying out and getting rock-hard, and also keeps grass clippings and leaves from filling the pits. The lids stabilize the moisture levels of the clay in the pits; without them, it would be impossible to keep the clay at the proper playing consistency.
Diagrams for the lids are shown below. Deck screws (stainless steel screws are best) are used to fasten the plywood sheeting to the under frame. Make the lids 40" square so they create a 1/2" overhang around the sides of the boxes. This forms a drip edge to keep rain from flooding in and provides a finger hold for lifting the lids off the pits. The wooden under frame prevents warping of the plywood top, holds the lids snugly inside the box, and seals in ground moisture for the clay.
Be sure to use CCA treated plywood, and treated 2x4's or 2x3's, for the framework of the lids.
From my own experience, using regular untreated lumber and painting the lids to protect them does not stand up well to harsh sunlight. Since the pits are laying flat on the ground, the sun strikes the plywood directly all day. The plywood tends to crack badly and the paint will begin to peel within a year's time, causing the lids to deteriorate rapidly and look unsightly. From the underside, ever-present ground moisture will quickly rot any untreated framework. With treated lumber, just spray a good-quality waterproofing sealant or transparent deck stain on the lids about every two years and they will weather extremely well. The lids in these photos at left are over 6 years old, and are still in good condition. Lids also give a nice finished look to your pits when not in use so your yard retains a neat appearance.