If you have always wanted to know more about horseshoe pit dimensions, then get ready because we have all the information you can handle.
NHPA Rule 1, Section A-2 describes a "Pitchers Box" complete with "Pit" and "Pitching Platforms". Several dimension variances are allowed, all of which tends to be somewhat confusing. Perhaps the following will help clarify it for those wishing to build their own courts or to understand why courts are constructed differently at other locations. The "Pitchers Box" has fixed 72"x72" dimensions. Within the box, space is divided into three major areas...two pitching platforms and the "pit". The maximum "pit" dimensions are 36"x72" and the remaining space is divided into two equal sized pitching platforms, one on each side of the pit. Over time, rule changes allowed "pit" dimensions to be reduced to as little as 31"x43" (probably to minimize the amount of pit fill material to maintain). Pit width reduction simply allowed pitching platform widths to increase accordingly. Pit length reduction created "unused" space within the box, in front of and/or behind the pit. Those "unused" spaces are addressed in Rule 1, Section A-2-a, "If the pit is less than the maximum dimensions, the extra space shall be filled with the same material of which the platforms are made or some other material different than the pit substance, and shall be level with the pit and platforms." (Allowances are made in Rule 1, Section C, for temporary and/or raised courts.) Rule 1, Section B-5 calls for "extended" pitching platforms, to extend the two pitching platforms of the pitchers box an additional 10 ft, thus providing short distance pitchers with comparable court conditions to those for long distance pitchers. Since the pitching platforms from each end of the court are now only 14 ft apart, recommended construction calls for extending the platforms on both sides of a court the full length of the court, providing suitable pitching and walking surfaces. Rule 1, Section A-2-b, specifies pitching platform widths to be between 18 and 20.5 inches. As mentioned above, the width of platforms are determined by the width used for pits. Extended platforms are to be the same width as those used in the pitchers box. Shoes lying "in count" must be within 6" of the stake. A part of such shoes can lie up to 9" or more beyond 6"...so the minimum width of a pit should be no less than 31" (6" + 9" on both sides of the stake + 1" diameter of stake = 31"). Shoes coming to rest in contact with or having touched the frame or other surfaces outside the pit before coming to rest are ruled as foul shoes. Accordingly, pit width and length dimensions may be any combination that falls within the maximum and minimum dimensions specified in Rule 1-A-2-a (43" to 72" length and 31" to 36" width). This information does not modify or change NHPA Rules or official interpretation thereof by NHPA Executive Council.
More on pit & platform dimensions: Temporary and raised pits as well as any inground pits having thick frames or sidewalls such as 1-1/2" lumber should have a minimum inside pit width dimension of 31" for reasons described above. The two frame thicknesses of 1-1/2" each, added to the inside dimension of the pit, when subtracted from the allowable "pitchers box" width of 72" will have a remainder equal to the combined width of both pitching platforms. As also described above, each platform width must be between 18" and 20-1/2". Similarly, the inside pit dimension should not be so great that thick frames or sidewalls cause pitching platforms to measure less than 18" or cause overall width of pitchers box to exceed 72" width. If this article does nothing more than point out the the need for better rule simplification, it will have served a useful purpose.