Rules & How to Play

The Rules for Outdoor Quoits

Steel quoits is a game probably derived from the ancient martial sport of Discus throwing. Being a traditional pub game without any national or international governing body, variations of equipment and rules abound. If in doubt, players should always abide by locally played or house rules. Please note that 1 yard = 3 feet = 36 inches = 0.9144 metres.

Quoits – The Northern Game

While the Long game is played in Wales and Scotland, the most popular Quoits game in England is a quite different prospect. Not only is the pitch significantly shorter and the quoits smaller and lighter but the difference in scoring results in a more tactical game. The following Northern Game version is based on The Upper Dales Quoits League Rules:


The pitch consists of two soft clay squares 3 feet square delineated by a wooden box, each of which has a pin (iron post) standing centrally 2 – 3 inches above the surface and not less than a half inch in diameter. The distance between the pins is exactly 11 yards apart in the centre of the clay.

A quoit is usually made of iron or steel and the blacksmith hammers it into a shape not dissimilar to the bottom of a wine glass with a hole in the middle of it. No grooved quoits may be used. The size and weight of quoits varies according to personal preference and the Dales League rules stipulate that a quoit must be no more than 8 1/2 inches in diameter, no more than 1 1/2 inches in height, no more than 5.25lbs in weight and the hole must be no more than 5 1/2 inches in diameter. The top surface of the quoit is referred to as “the hill” while the concave underside surface is called “the hole”.

The Play

Due to the way the scoring works, the maximum score for each end is a potential 4 points. The winner is the player who reaches the score of 21 first. In a league match, two teams of 7 play and each member of a team is paired with an opponent. The total scores of both teams are added to decide the victorious team.

A toss of a coin decides who throws first. After that, the privilege of the first throw alternates with the end. If a quoit lands more than 18 inches from the pin it does not count. A player can stand up to 3 feet either side of the pin and must deliver his quoit from behind a mark or board placed 6 feet in front of the pin – if not, the quoit thrown is called a “No Quoit” and removed.

The two quoits nearest the pin count as one point each if belonging to the same player, if not then only the nearest quoit counts as one point. Opposing quoits touching the pin are deemed as equal and no points are awarded for that “end”.

Two points are scored for a “ringer”, a quoit which lands over the pin. If a player has two quoits in this position they both count as two points each. If an opponent has one quoit dividing them then only the top quoit counts as a ringer. In the event of players having one quoit each on the pin then only the uppermost quoit shall count as two points. No quoit can be called a ringer if a quoit under it covers any part of the pin.

A key tactical point for skilful players is that it is not always good play to aim for a ringer. Instead, it may be better for the player who throws first to try to “cover” the top of the pin with a quoit stuck in the clay at an angle. If all four quoits miss the pin, a single point goes to the owner of the nearest quoit. A quoit which lands so that part of it is covering the top of the pin (a “cover”) counts before a quoit which is touching the pin (a “side-toucher”).

The umpire’s decision is final. Straight legged callipers decide disputes and should the umpire disturb a quoit when measuring, it is declared a “No End” and the player retains his throw. No clay or quoits are allowed to be removed to facilitate the measuring. When two quoits belonging to opposite sides are at equal distances from the pin or are touching the pin, neither side gains a score but the first thrower retains his throw. Any player claiming points and wishing a measure after pitching one quoit will not be allowed to return and play his second quoit. The clay can only be “trampled” during the game by the two players and the umpire.

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For rules and more information on the venerable Long Game as played in Scotland and Wales, the East Anglian game now confined to tiny pockets around North Suffolk, the more modern Deck Quoits born in the 1930’s, Slate bed quoits from Pennsylvania, USA, and Sward Quoits for people who wish to play Quoits informally in their garden or elsewhere outdoors, please visit Masters Traditional Games website.

We wish to thank Masters Traditional Games for contributing to the above information. Masters Traditional Games is a supplier of quoits and many other quality traditional games. To see their full range, visit their website or call 01727 855058