The Washer Toss Game – Ultimate Guide to Backyard Fun!

What is the Washers Game?

Washer pitching or tossing is a fun game that can be played indoors or outdoors – anywhere that has a large flat area. 

This simple, but exciting game will bring an element of competition to your family picnic in the park or barbeque in the yard. A party game for people of all ages or a solo pursuit for relieving stress, the Washers yard game is versatile and a fun form of exercise.

The aim of the game is for individuals or teams to compete against one another to try to be the first to reach a winning score of 11, 17 or 21 points.

The equipment for playing is simple: There are two washer pits located opposite one another, each with a recessed cup.

Contestants stand in one pit and toss washers toward the cup in the other pit. The aim is to throw the washer into the cup, or as near as possible to the cup, to score.

According to the International Association of Washer Players, 3 Hole Washers Game is a game of skill that people enjoy for entertainment and to develop coordination.

The Washer’s game has rules and a scoring method to measure skill. As the player’s coordination develops, skills and scores also improve.

A Brief History Of The Washers Game

an old can and a box

Washers, Hilbilly Horseshoes, and Holey board are some of the alternative names that Washer Toss Game is called.

This game has been passed down over many generations and that is why there are so many different names for the same game in existence today.

Nobody knows for sure how the game started, but I guess it came about when men discovered that they could throw things at a target and compete with one another.

Some scholars believe that it was a game played as far back as Ancient Greek and Roman times when soldiers played a form of the game while relaxing between wars.

Its close resemblance to the Horseshoes game gives rise to the theory that the Washer Toss game was a spin-off from it.

Maybe somebody used washers instead of horseshoes because washers were more readily available, while horseshoes were not.

In 1869 England set out the rules for the game of Horseshoes and it is thought that the Pilgrim’s took the game to America and from that the game of Washers developed.

There are also claims that the Washers Game was invented at the Falcon Bronze playground in Youngstown, Ohio in 1931.

Iron washers were tossed into holes or cups spread 20 feet apart, following rules similar to horseshoes. This popular game was renamed Ringers in 1936.

It is thought that the game began many years ago at machine shops, auto shops, and hardware stores, where washers were found in abundance.

Workers and customers would toss spare washers and soon a competition began.

In the last thirty years, the game has become more commercialized and adaptations of the game are played in different States and a form of the game is even played by ex-pats in Hong Kong.

How to Play Washers

washers game at the backyard

Before we begin to talk about the rules, it is important to remember that there are many variations on this game, and the rules could differ slightly from place to place.  Make sure that you have clarified the rules for your particular game before you begin playing or it could all end in tears!

The game area comprises two Washer pits or boards (this will depend on whether you buy or make a Washer’s game). 

Each pit has one sunken cup (4 inches in diameter.  The pits are spaced an exact distance apart (25 feet) which is measured from the cup centres.

The starting order of the players is decided by a diddle   (DIDDLE – One toss per player that determines the starting order of each new game.

Every player throws one washer at the opposite cup. The washer closest to the cup, or in the cup, goes first. The player tossing the second closest to the cup goes next, and so forth.

If teams are playing on a standard pitch, players are permitted to stand wherever they choose when throwing. If the game is not in a framed pit area, then players may not stand more than one step in front of the cup.

After deciding who plays first, players stand by the side of their game board, in line with the cup or pipe and take aim. They then toss all four of their washers in the direction of their opponent’s board. 

The landing position of the washers determines the score for that player. After one player has thrown all their washers, the opponent has a turn to throw their four washers and totals up the score.

Only one contestant may score per round and this is judged by how close to the cup their washer lands.

How to Score in a Washers Game

washers game scoring system

A washer in the cup = 5 points

A washer close to the cup = 1 point

A washer outside the pit = 0

Points are allocated after all the players have had a turn.  If the second player’s washer accidentally pushes his opponent’s washer forward, the first player graciously accepts his good fortune.

Once both players have thrown all their washers, the scores must be tallied. Only one player will be able to score after each round of the game. Players announce their scores and the one with the higher score receives the difference in the points.

So, if one player gets three points and the opponent gets five points, then the second player receives two points for that round.

The game continues until one of the players reaches 21 points and is then announced the winner of the game.

More advanced rules include a “skunk” and a “whitewash” but there is no need to worry about that when playing the basic game for fun.

Washer Toss Game Specs

Washers Game Dimensions

washers game dimension

The Washer boards must be 4 ft. long and 1 ft. wide.

For the 3-hole game, each board should have three separate holes that have a 12-inch space between each hole.

Washers Game Distance

The washer boards should be placed at a distance of 21 ft. apart and perfectly aligned with each other.  A piece of string, which has been measured to the exact distance, can be attached to both boards to ensure uniformity.

Washers Game Washer Size

washer sizes

Each player or team must have washers that are exactly the same size.  Each team will have a different color for their set of washers to ensure that there is no confusion.

Washers should have a diameter of 2.5 inches and a central hole that measures 1 inch in diameter.  Washers should preferably be made of steel and each weighs about 4 ounces.

Commercially produced games may vary on these dimensions and materials, and as long as there is consistency in the dimensions, it should not matter in the playing of the game.

Where to Buy a Washers Game Set

washer toss game on the lawn

There are many commercially produced Washers game sets on the market.  Many come in a handy box which can be kept in the trunk of your car and you will then be ready to play this exciting game whenever you get together with friends.

Before making a purchase, you would be wise to do some homework because you will want your Washer Toss game to be robust enough to withstand some hard play in quite rough outdoor conditions.

The best Washer Toss game sets that I have reviewed are available on Amazon.  Here are my suggestions and the reasons why I have picked these products:

Gosport’s Premium Birch Wood Washer Toss Game

GoSports Premium Birch Wood Washer Toss Game

As the name suggests, the boards are made out of genuine handcrafted birch wood (Birch is ideal for this purpose because it is medium-weight and strong, but not particularly hard.)

The boards latch together easily and this traditionally styled game has been manufactured to the regulation standards meaning it can be used for competitions.

Eight plastic-coated metal washers are included.

What We Like:

Handcrafted boards that latch together

Metal washers that have colored plastic coating which have a good grip

Complies with regulation size conditions

Our Concerns:

This set is in the upper price bracket

The metal washers can cause damage to the board if thrown with force

The pipe is easily dislodged, but simple to repair

Check Price On Amazon

The Viva Sol Premium Backyard Washer Toss Game

Viva Sol Premium Backyard Washer Toss Game Includes 8 Washers with Built-In Bottle Openers

This set has a quality walnut finish and the boards latch together for easy transportation.

It has obviously been designed for fun because the washers are constructed with a bottle opener in the center.  So, you can enjoy a drink while you are playing but remember that over-indulgence may affect your aim!

What We Like:

Looks classy due to the walnut finish and felt lining

Clasps together for easy transportation

Unique washers that double as bottle-openers

Strong and durable components

Our Concerns:

All this class comes with a hefty price tag

The washers are a bit bouncy which can frustrate players

Check Price On Amazon

Franklin Sports Fold-N-Go Washers Game Set

Franklin Sports Washer Toss - 6 Washers and 2 Collapsible Targets - Beach or Camping Outdoor Lawn Game - Official Size Washer Set

This collapsible Washer set has hexagonal shaped boards made out of fabric.  In spite of this, it still complies with the regulation standards for competitions.

Being lightweight and contained in a handy carry bag, means that it can go wherever you go.  This set also has washers inside that double as bottle-openers.  It seems that Washer tossing is thirsty work!

What We Like:

Very reasonable priced

Light and compact

Handy carry bag

Washers can be used as bottle-openers

Meets competition regulations

Our Concerns:

The set only has six washers

The fabric is not as robust as wood

Check Price On Amazon

Replacement Washers

You may also be interested in buying replacement washers for your games. The Bolaball All-weather washer toss game replacement washers come in red and blue. They are weather-resistant and made of quality steel.

We all know how easy it is to lose washers or maybe a bad sport will toss the washers too far, so it is a good idea to have some replacement washers handy.

Do-It-Yourself Washer Toss Game

materials needed for DIY washers game

If you don’t have the cash to splash out on expensive backyard games, making your own Washer Toss game could not be easier!

Remember the simple origins of the game: Who has the best aim when tossing washers into a box? Simple fun for folk of all ages and all the materials are to be found at your favorite DIY store!

Materials for your DIY Washer Toss Game:

  • 4 – 16 inch 2×4
  • 4 – 13 inch 2×4
  • 8 – 1/2 inch washers, or any size washers that suit you
  • 2 – 3 inch PVC couplings
  • 2 16 inch squares of plywood. I used 3/8 inch. Use what you want.
  • wood screws (for the base, I used 6 X 3/4 and for the frame itself I used 2 X 8)
  • Maybe wood putty
  • Sand paper
  • Paint (if you want)

You can follow these instructions from Woody’s Washers yard game – One quick suggestion we would make is to add a piece of string (about 20 ft. long) to each box. This saves time when measuring the exact distance required by the regulations each time you play.

These simple four-part DIY instructions from Cabin Life come with clear photos and do not require a high level of skill to make this Washer Toss Game.

There are many ideas and styles for making your own Washer Toss Game set on Pinterest

Take a look at the suggestions and get ideas to personalize your DIY Washer Toss Set.  You can involve the kids in the making and decorating as well. 

When the game is ready, everyone will be able to share in the fun of the game with the added satisfaction of having taken part in the construction.

Whether you buy an expensive Washer Toss Game as a gift for your family or construct one in your own workshop, you can be sure that it will be well-received. 

Playing this game in your backyard will be a great bonding experience and you will be passing on a worthwhile and entertaining tradition.

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