BROOKSVILLE - When people think of playing horseshoes, they probably conjure up images of a time long ago when a group of guys would get together by a makeshift pit in the backyard and have some fun for an hour or so.
And that image would not be far off base, says Rich Watson.
"Horseshoes is a prehistoric (sport)," Watson says.
But, he adds, the sport is cherished by a small but dedicated fan base.
Just ask the 40 or so members of the Brooksville Horseshoe Club, who get together at 9 a.m. every Thursday at Tom Varn Park to spend an enjoyable few hours pitching a few 'shoes' at an area set aside for them. Then they break for refreshments and fellowship before throwing some more horseshoes.
Horseshoes has pretty much been confined to backyard get-togethers and shunned by young people, who would rather spend time on electronic devices and don't get out as much anymore, club member Watson says.
Dave Kohnen says the club is trying to change that image and is seeking new members, especially women.
"I don't think a lot of people even know this club exists," says Kohnen, 56, who retired to Hernando County and has been a member of the club for only about three months.
Kohnen says he got addicted to the art of horseshoes long ago and after moving to the county soon found others show shared his passion.
"I've always loved playing horseshoes," says the retired New York truck driver. "But I've never had the time to play.
Horseshoes is for all ages and genders, Watson says. If people are reluctant to join, they can show up at Tom Varn Park on a Thursday morning and members will gladly teach them.
"Anybody can do it," Watson says. "It just takes practice."
Rich's wife Carolle Watson, says she's been a member of the Brooksville Horseshoe Club for 10 years and would love to see more females. Currently, there are only two of them.
"I like it," Carolle Watson says of the sport. "I'm good at it. I like a little competition. It gets me away from the house."
Like other members, Watson warmed up by throwing a few shoes at the stake on the opposite pit some 40 feet away.
"It would be nice to see more women," she says. "It's something husbands and wives can do together."
The Brooksville Horseshoe Club invites people to stop by at 9 a.m. Thursdays at Tom Varn Park, off West Jefferson Street. There are 12 National Horseshoe Pitchers Association-sanctioned pits and extra shoes for those just getting started.
It's free to play and open to all ages and skill levels.
To find out more about the club, visit http://brooksvillehc.9f.com/