History of Trenton-Style Quoits
Quoits (koits, kwoits, kwaits) is a traditional game which involves the throwing of metal, rope or rubber rings over a set distance, usually to land over or near a spike (sometimes called a hub, mott or pin). The sport of quoits encompasses several distinct variations.
The history of quoits is disputed. One theory often expressed is that the sport evolved as a formalized version of horseshoes, which is a sport that involves pitching a horseshoe at a spike in the ground. A more likely explanation, however, is that horseshoes evolved from the sport of quoits, which in turn has its origins in ancient Greece. On its website, the United States Quoiting Association explains that poorer citizens in ancient Greece, who could not afford to buy a real discus, made their own by bending horseshoes - which in those days weighed as much as four pounds each. The practice was adopted by the Roman army and spread across mainland Europe to Britain. The aim of the sport remained as a competition to see who could throw the object the furthest, until "at some later, undocumented point in history, perhaps around a few centuries A.D., the idea of using a wooden stake or metal pin driven into the ground, to use specifically as a target to throw at, totally redefined the pastime from a game of distance to a game of accuracy."
Whilst the first quoits were apparently made from horseshoes, in the context of the game's evolution the significant point is that they were initially closed to form a ring and used in their open form only after the practice of pitching at a spike had been established.
Game of ringtoss c. 1815
In England quoits became so popular that it was prohibited by Edward III and Richard II to encourage archery. Despite this setback, by the 15th century there is evidence that it had become a well-organized sport, not least because of the numerous attempts to eradicate it from the pubs and taverns of England owing to its apparently seedy character.
It is not until the 19th century, however, that the game is documented in any detailed way. The official rules first appeared in the April 1881 edition of The Field, having been defined by a body formed from pubs in Northern England.
The popularity of the game during the 19th and early 20th centuries also gave rise to several variants, usually with the aim of allowing the game (or a version of it) to be played indoors or making it accessible to women and children. Games such as ringtoss or hoopla became popular as parlour games, whilst versions such as indoor quoits allowed pubs and taverns to maintain their quoits teams through the winter months. Deck quoits began life some time in the early 1930s as a pastime to occupy passengers on long cruises.
This style of steel Quoits is popular in the Central portions of New Jersey, especially in and around the Trenton area. The objective is similar to the traditional game of quoits. The goal is to surround the pin or throw the closest quoit to the pin. The quoits are 7 1/2 inches in diameter with a 5-inch hole, and weigh 2 1/2 pounds each. The top-side of the quoit is beveled, while the underside is flat. The pitching distance is 21 feet and the hubs are generally 4 1/2 inches (four fingers) above the ground level of the pit. Each hub is placed in the center of a pit that is generally composed of smooth and level packed clay or dense soil (NO SAND). Teams of two players play a game to 21 points (winning by two). An 11-0 shutout will end the game early and a match is generally best 2 out of 3 games. The following is an abbreviated summary of scoring in rank of priority: Ringer-2 Points (If the same team "tops" a ringer it is 4 points); Leaner-1 Point (a leaner touching top of Hub wins point over leaner touching side of Hub); Closest to Hub-1 Point (Per Quoit with from the same team) must be within outer diameter of Quoit. This is determined by placing an outside Quoit over Hub and measuring nearest Quoit.