QUOITS - What Do they Look Like and Which Kind Should I Buy?
What Do Quoits Look Like?
Standard American Quoits are heavy, solid metal rings made with a rounded top surface and a concave underside surface. Standard American Quoits are considered the original American quoit because they are the historical version of quoits brought here to North America by Colonial settlers from Britain, Scotland, and Wales. Most other regional variations of Quoits that exist in North America today evolved from this style of Quoit.
Standard American Quoits are foundry cast by pouring molten metal into sand molds, using steel, brass, or bronze as the base metal. Every quoit has an indented finger notch along the outside edge into which the tip of the index finger is placed during a pitch. This very important notch is used to aid in throwing accuracy. A complete set of 4 quoits consists of two pairs of rings, one pair marked with a capital letter "A" and one pair marked with a capital letter "B". These markings can either be raised above, or recessed below, the surface of the Quoit. Each pair of quoits are sometimes painted in contrasting colors for easier identification while pitching. Antique sets of quoits can be found marked with other letters, or even numbers, hash marks, or small dots to differentiate the pairs. Modern Quoits, for the most part, stick to the A and B markings as a standard.
Today, locally-made quoits are generally produced in either a 3 pound or 4 pound weight. The average 3 pound quoit measures about 6 inches in diameter, has a 2 3/4 inch hole, and is 7/8 inches high. But, some antique quoits found in this area were cast in many different weights, ranging anywhere from 1 to 5 pounds in 1/2 pound increments, so their sizes vary respectively.
The sets of quoits taped together at right are examples of the typical selection that are found at many hardware and dry goods stores in Lancaster County, PA. Most of these quoits are manufactured at either local metal foundries, or by a few local Amish farmers in their small forges or black smithies. In this photo are, from left to right, a 3-pound set of steel quoits, a 4-pound set of steel quoits, a 3-pound set of red brass quoits, and a 4-pound set of yellow brass quoits. The red brass quoits contain more copper and less zinc than the yellow, which gives them a reddish hue.
Seen above the quoits in the photo is a set of sharpened steel pins that are driven into the center of clay-filled pits to be used as the throwing targets. These pins, available at the Ephrata East End Mart, have their top 4 inches painted red for visibility.
Comparison of Quoits to a Horseshoe
The standard pitching Horseshoe is about 7 1/2 inches long, 7 inches wide, with an interior opening of about 6 x 5 inches in size. Compare this with the central hole of a Quoit, which varies between 2 and 3 inches in diameter, and you can understand why Horseshoe pitching has become so popular as a ringer-oriented game.
Quoits, by contrast, because of the difficulty in making repeated ringers, becomes more a game of strategy and exact placement. In the eyes of a dedicated Quoit pitcher, this makes Quoits a more challenging and interesting game to play!
Choosing Your Own Quoits - Which Kind Should You Purchase?
Standard American Quoits are generally available in 3 different metals - steel, brass, and bronze, and each of these are available in 3 and 4 pound sizes. Both weights are acceptable to pitch with, but the 4 pound weight is the Official Tournament Weight adopted by the United States Quoiting Association, and is the prevalent size used by many Pennsylvania pitchers. Choosing the proper size to purchase for your own use is mainly a personal preference, but if you plan to compete in any future USQA tournaments, you should become comfortable pitching with 4 pound Quoits.
There are advantages and drawbacks for each type of metal used in the quoits. Here is an in-depth overview of the various types of metal quoits, so you may make your own, well-educated decision on which style will suit you best:
Steel quoits are by far the least expensive and most commonly used Quoit. Their main drawbacks are that the edges of steel quoits have a tendency to chip away somewhat as they are used, and steel quoits will rust if they are not painted or stored inside to protect them. Steel quoits generally cost about $40 to $60 for a set of four.
Brass quoits are the "prettiest" and are also very popular sellers. They do not rust, and so do not need to be painted, but since brass is a softer metal, the quoits become dinged and dented after only a fair amount of pitching. Brass quoits are also much more expensive than the steel, especially with the increase in pricing for metals over the past few years. expect to pay double or triple the cost of Steel quoits for a set made of brass.
Bronze quoits are slowly becoming more available and more popular; just a few years ago they were a very rare find. These quoits will cost even a bit more than brass quoits. They are still hard to find anywhere other than at the Ephrata East End Mart, a store that is featured on this site for buying or mail-ordering quoits. Bronze Quoits are probably the least attractive looking quoit, having a drab brown color. But, they are actually the most desirable quoit to purchase, as they have the advantages of both the brass and steel quoits. They do not rust or chip like steel quoits, and do not need painted. Bronze is a much harder metal than brass, but is not as brittle as steel. Thus, the bronze quoits do not ding and dent nearly as much as brass quoits, but are still resilient enough that they don't chip like steel quoits. They also have that nice bell-bronze ring to them when you strike them together!
One minor drawback of both the brass and bronze quoits is that they do sometimes get small metal burrs on the edges of the quoits from striking the pin or another quoit. The brass quoits are more susceptible to this than the bronze, again because they are made of a much softer metal. These burrs can catch or cut a pitching finger if they are not removed promptly. A round or half-round metal file should be kept on hand during play for just such occurrences.