My friends had a summer bash over the July 4th holiday, and introduced our family to Backyard Washers. It is a low-budget game with some similarity to horseshoes, in that it’s played outdoors and involves some skill throwing an object. Players compete in teams of two.

It requires two “washer boards”, which are made from some plywood for the bottom, some 2x4 pieces for the sides, and a PVC pipe mounted in the middle. Two pairs of washers are also required – 3” in diameter, I believe. They are painted to distinguish them. Oddly, their site doesn’t appear to contain instructions for constructing your own set up.

The scoring makes the game. There are four scoring zones: inside the PVC ring in the center of the board (5 points), inside the board (3 points), on the lip (2 points), and within a beer or soda can of the board (1 point). The team whose washer lands in the highest scoring zone is the only team to earn points in a round. Washers in the same zone cancel, which adds some drama. If I land a washer in the box (3 points), the other team can cancel my score by placing a washer in the box themselves. Combined with the victory conditions (you must earn exactly 21 points to win; if you go over, the target score increases by 10, but only for your team), and each throw is eagerly watched by the opponents and bystanders alike.

It’s well worth an afternoon to learn to play this game.