Title:
Target game with rungs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game includes projectiles and at least one ladder-like target, with a plurality of rungs, each spaced from each other by a predetermined distance and with a plurality of side struts connected to the rungs with connectors. Projectiles include two relatively large ends fabricated from balls similar to golf balls, separated by a flaccid cord or rope. In the most preferred embodiment, the struts slide inside each other to telescope and form a compact package.



Inventors:
Lynch, James P. (Bowlus, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/881335
Publication Date:
04/21/2005
Filing Date:
06/29/2004
Assignee:
LYNCH JAMES P.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/00; A63B67/00; A63B67/10; (IPC1-7): A63B63/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALBERT W. WATKINS (30844 NE 1ST AVENUE, ST. JOSEPH, MN, 56374, US)
Claims:
1. A recreational apparatus comprising two bases each comprising a first and a second horizontally extending foot and a central connector, each base extending approximately parallel to the other for providing structural support upon a surface, each foot optionally containing at least one recess for holding at least one weight, and each central connector retaining two feet and connecting to the ladder; a ladder extending vertically from the base, the ladder comprising first, second and third horizontal rungs, the first rung being closest to the base and the third rung being farthest from the base, each rung having a first and a second end, and the ladder further comprising first, second and third vertical struts apposed to first ends of the rungs, and fourth, fifth and sixth vertical struts apposed to second ends of the rungs; a first coupler retaining the first and second struts to the first end of the first rung; a second coupler retaining the second and third struts to a first end of the second rung; a third coupler retaining the third strut to the first end of the third rung; a fourth coupler retaining the fourth and fifth struts to the second end of the first rung; a fifth coupler retaining the fifth and sixth struts to the second end of the second rung; a sixth coupler retaining the sixth strut to the second end of the third rung; the first, second, fourth and fifth couplers coupling either permanently or removably; and a projectile having a flaccid spacer and larger terminators at either end of the flaccid spacer, whereby the projectile may be tossed to the ladder about which the projectile may wrap.

2. The game of claim 1 wherein the third and sixth struts slidably contact the second and fifth connectors and wherein the third and sixth struts are narrower than the second and third struts, whereby the third and sixth struts telescope into the second and fifth struts.

3. The game of claim 2 wherein the second and fifth struts are slidably connected to the first and fourth connectors and are narrower than the first and fourth struts, whereby the second and fifth struts telescope into the first and fourth struts.

4. The game of claim 1 wherein the second and fifth struts are slidably connected to the first and fourth connectors and are narrower than the first and fourth struts, whereby the second and fifth struts telescope into the first and fourth struts.

5. The game of claim 1 wherein the projectile comprises a spacer surrounded with a metal grommet at one end, wherein the spacer's other end is threaded through both terminators such that the grommet prevents a first terminator from falling off the spacer's grommet end and the spacer's other end is threaded through a hole in a shank, the spacer and the end are threaded back into the second terminator and the shank is pressed therein.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/570,507, filed May 13, 2000 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. ______, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/311,998 filed May 14, 1999.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

This invention pertains to games generally, and more specifically to aerial projectiles and targets therefor, as well as methods of playing. Most particularly, the aerial projectiles are balls interconnected by a flaccid material such as a rope or cord, and the target is a set of vertically displaced horizontal bars, about which the cord may wrap.

2. Description of the Related Art

Recreation is a multi-faceted activity that can incorporate many learning and developmental benefits while also serving as a valuable social activity. A good recreational past-time has the potential for simultaneously improving interpersonal communications and offering a release from the stress and pressures of other daily activities. The activity will most desirably accommodate participants of all levels of skill, and offer reward to those who show dedication to the activity, while allowing relatively new participants the opportunity for recreation, enjoyment, and friendly social gathering. It is against this backdrop that the contemplation of desirable activities may be considered, evaluated, and critically assessed. While the merits of any particular activity may be different from one individual to another, the need for valuable recreational activities is universal.

Various aerial toys, where a projectile is tossed towards a target, are known. In several U.S. patents, including U.S. Pat. No. 4,487,419 to Welboum and Pat. No. 5,165,694 to Kraushaar, each incorporated herein by reference, the projectile consists of a pair of weighted objects spaced by a flaccid material, and the target comprises various rods or bars about which the flaccid material may wrap. In the Kraushaar patent, several bags filled with sand or gravel are separated by a flat web of elastic or fabric. The bags are tossed towards a target that includes a plurality of generally horizontal bars that are vertically displaced one from the other. However, the Kraushaar target is partially enclosed within a large solid housing having three solid walls. Whether the housing is fabricated from wood or molded from plastic resins, the housing requires substantial Space, weight and expense. Weight makes the invention prohibitive to package and ship, and makes handling the target during use and moving into and out of storage more difficult The space required for the housing makes retailing, merchandising and inventorying unreasonable. Finally, where the game is desired to be played out of doors, the housing will undesirably catch the wind. Unless securely anchored with extra cords, cables or stakes, the Kraushaar target will be readily toppled in stronger gusts of wind. The sand filled projectiles are also prone to tearing or bursting and the associated scattering of sand.

Welbourn discloses a projectile game directed more towards outdoor participation. A relatively narrow rod is illustrated as being anchored into the ground in an arrangement and fashion similar to a croquet wicket. Two stakes on either side of the target extend down into the ground for anchoring, and a rod of various geometries extends therebetween, spaced above the level of the ground. A course roughly in the shape of a FIG. 8 is laid out just as in croquet, and the contestants work their way through the course by wrapping the aerial projectiles upon the targets. The targets are described as being of a single length of permanently bent structural material such as metallic rod, molded resin, etc. Only one rod is provided for each target, and a multitude of rods are necessary to form a course. Much like croquet, a relatively large course must be established, and the rods are custom formed in a relatively expensive production process.

Three additional patents illustrate various projectiles and tree-like targets, including U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,701,531 and 3,717,348 to Bowers; and Pat. No. 5,522,597 to Hanks, the contents of which are each incorporated herein by reference. The Hanks patent uses a stick for tossing the projectile, which is much more difficult and unpredictable, adding therefore undesirably to the complexity of the game. The Bowers patents each illustrate a projectile having a tossing handle formed integrally with the flaccid material, midway between projectile balls. This type of handle makes the balls travel through the air unpredictably, not spreading out well. Consequently, the projectile will pass over and stay wrapped onto the pointed “branches” of the tree more readily than wrapping around a rod. Unfortunately, the tree structure is less desirable, since the branches are anchored at only one end and so are more prone to breakage, while the exposed points of the branches may also present more of a hazard to those who might accidentally happen upon the target.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, there is a recreational apparatus with a projectile and a target. The target has two bases and a ladder connected thereto. Each base has a first and a second horizontally extending foot and a central connector.. The two bases are generally parallel to the other for providing structural support upon a surface. Each foot in the base optionally contains at least one recess for holding at least one weight. The central connector retains the two feet and connects to the ladder. The ladder extends vertically from the base. The ladder has at least first, second and third horizontal rungs, with the first rung closest to the base and the third rung farthest from the base. Each rung has a first and a second end. The ladder further includes at least first, second and third vertical struts apposed to first ends of the rungs, and fourth, fifth and sixth vertical struts apposed to second ends of the rungs. The ladder is held together with couplers. A first coupler retains the first and second struts to the first end of the first rung; the second coupler retains the second and third struts to a first end of the second rung; the third coupler retains the third strut to the first end of the third rung; the fourth coupler retains the fourth and fifth struts to the second end of the first rung; the fifth coupler retains the fifth and sixth struts to the second end of the second rung; and the sixth coupler retains the sixth strut to the second end of the third rung. The first, second, fourth and fifth couplers can couple either permanently or removably. The projectile has a flaccid spacer and larger terminators at either end of the flaccid spacer, whereby the projectile may be tossed to the ladder about which the projectile may wrap.

In another embodiment, the third and sixth struts slidably contact the second and fifth connectors and wherein the third and sixth struts are narrower than the second and fifth struts, whereby the third and sixth struts telescope into the second and fifth struts. In addition, the second and fifth struts can be slidably connected to the first and fourth connectors and are narrower than the first and fourth struts, whereby the second and fifth struts telescope into the first and fourth struts.

In another embodiment, the second and fifth struts are slidably connected to the first and fourth connectors and are narrower than the first and fourth struts, whereby the second and fifth struts telescope into the first and fourth struts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a preferred embodiment target designed in accord with the teachings of the present invention, from a projected plan view.

FIG. 2 illustrates the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 from a front plan view.

FIG. 3 illustrates the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 from a side plan view.

FIG. 4 illustrates a preferred target which has telescoping sides and weight-filled shoes.

FIG. 5 illustrates the shoes in an exploded view.

FIG. 6 illustrates a preferred embodiment projectile from a top plan view.

FIG. 7 illustrates another embodiment of the projectile.

FIG. 8 shows one end of an exemplary spacer with a grommet.

FIG. 9 shows the other end of an exemplary spacer, which has been threaded through the hole in the shank and is being pressed into the terminal.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A preferred embodiment target 100, shown in FIGS. 1-3, is most preferably fabricated from tubular materials commonly used in the trades for plumbing or electrical applications and referred to as pipe or conduit. This material is generally light of weight and structurally very sound, providing adequate rigidity and resilience. Most preferred materials include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or similar materials, due to intrinsic weather resistance and the rigidity and resilience aforementioned. Aluminum is a significantly poorer choice of material, due to the greater tendency for aluminum to fracture or crack when hit during the playing of the game, and also due to less stability in the wind and when being hit by the projectile. Segments 112-134 and 151-154 maybe manufactured by simply cutting the appropriate lengths of conduit, and performing any edge finishing such as deburring or buffing that may be appropriate for the type of cutting technique used.

Most preferably, and particularly where the target 100 will not be factory assembled, segments 112-134 and 151-154 may be color-coded or otherwise labeled with legends distinguishing one segment from another. For example, the scoring method of the present invention, which will be described in more detail hereinbelow, most preferably involves different points assigned to each one of horizontal segments 130, 132, and 134. This will be most preferably visually distinguished by coloring bands, portions or the whole of these segments in distinct colors, or even manufacturing the game using tubing already intrinsically colored during production. Most preferably, confusion can also be avoided regarding different segments by using only two standard lengths of conduit for segments 112-134 and 151-154. More particularly, segments 130-134 and 151-154 will each be approximately two feet in length, while segments 112-122 will each be approximately one foot long. The lengths will thereby be clearly distinguishable at the time of assembly, and there are only two sizes to distinguish rather than a myriad of lengths. Segments 112-134 and 151-154 may, for these lengths, most preferably by of ¾ inch durable plastic pipe such as the PVC pipe mentioned herein above.

Coupling each segment into target 100 are a number of commercially available tees 140-150, and two elbows 160-162. As is known in the plumbing and electrical conduit fields, engagement between segments and tees may be readily made simply by sliding a pipe segment into an opening within a tee. The connection between the segments 112-134 and 151-154 and the various tees 140-150 and also elbows 160-162 may be purely frictional, in which case the entire target 100 may be readily disassembled for storage into a most compact package. Alternatively, selected ones of the connections may be frictional, while the remainder are permanently glued. For example, base components 150-158 might be separable from vertical segments 112 and 118 at tees 148 and 150, owing for flat storage, while all other connections are permanently affixed. This arrangement will require a larger storage space than a fully disassembled collection of components but the assembly time required is minimal since only two frictional connections will be required between tee 150 and segment 118 and between tee 148 and segment 112. Where storage space is not an issue at all, or when target 100 will be left ready for use year-round, all of the segment to coupling connections will most preferably be permanently made using a suitable adhesive. Semi-permanent connections may also be used by providing threading or other fastening means at these connections. End caps 155-158 will also most preferably be provided, preventing or limiting the ingress of water or other undesirable materials or creatures into target 100. An additional alternative embodiment which has been conceived of is the provision of hinges which can allow the various leg segments 151-154 to fold up into the same plane as the rest of target 100. Yet another alternative embodiment would permit the two base legs to be swiveled or rotated to the same plane, though this second alternative embodiment does require substantially more width than would be required to hinge or detach the base from the ladder.

FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment with telescoping vertical segments 212-216 and 218-222 on the sides, wherein parallel segments 212 and 222 slide through tees 242 and 246, respectively, until they fill vertical segments 214 and 220, respectively. Vertical segments 214 and 220 slide through tees 240 and 244, respectively, until they reside inside vertical segments 212 and 218, respectively. In this embodiment, it is preferable for vertical segment 214 to be permanently affixed to tee 242, and vertical segment 220 to be permanently affixed to tee 246. Likewise, vertical segment 212 is permanently fixed to tee 240 and vertical segment 218 is permanently affixed to tee 244. In this embodiment, horizontal bars 130, 132 and 134 are permanently affixed to elbows 160 and 162 and to tees 240, 242, 244 and 246.

Further in FIG. 4 are shown different bases for the vertical struts. Each base is assembled from three parts. One base is composed of central connector 248 and feet 251 and 253. The central connector 248 connects not only feet 251 and 253 but also the lowest vertical segment 212. The other base similarly has a central connector 256 and feet 252 and 254. In some embodiments, each of the feet 251-254 has at least one ball seat 270. The feet are shown with balls loaded therein.

FIG. 5 shows a base disassembled into feet 252 and 254 and central connector 256. For illustration purposes only, each foot is shown as a separately fabricated piece with four indentations (e.g., 270) for ball weights.

FIG. 6 illustrates the most preferred projectile 200 designed in accord with the teachings of the present invention. A rope or flexible cord 220, such as might be manufactured from 1/4 inch nylon rope, interconnects two balls 210, 212. In the most preferred embodiment balls 210, 212 are comprised by relatively hard and durable balls similar to or possibly comprising golf balls. A small hole will preferably pass through balls 210 and 212, and depending upon the volume of production, may be drilled therethrough or molded directly therein. Cord 220 will then be passed through the hole, and can be heat swaged to form ends 222, 224 or alternatively capped or glued or otherwise enlarged and sealed to prevent passage back through balls 210, 212. Most preferably, the spacing between balls 210 and 212 will be approximately equal to the spacing between each of the horizontal target rods. This spacing makes the center rod relatively more difficult to wrap, as will be described in more detail hereinbelow, than the other two rods. While balls 210, 212 are most preferably round, other shapes and geometries may also be used without interfering with the principles of the invention.

Preferably, the preferred embodiment includes at least two projectiles 200, desirably having different colors. For example, a first projectile 200 may be colored red, while a second projectile 200 is colored green. The coloring can be achieved either by coloring balls 210, 212, or by using colored cord 220, or both, and multiple colors can be used within the same projectile. Nevertheless, it is most desirable that there be multiple distinguishable color combinations. That way, during the play of the game, a person's or team's projectile will be easily distinguished from that of an opponent. Most preferably, for each participant or team, there will be a unique color or color combination for projectile 200.

FIG. 8 shows one end of an exemplary spacer 220 surrounded by a grommet 214 to be retained in one of the balls 210 or 212. FIG. 9 shows the other end of an exemplary spacer cord 220, which has been threaded through the hole 216 in the shank 218 and is being pressed into the ball 212 or 210. These are examples of ends for the spacer; they may be used individually, together or not at all. If the cord is meltable, at least one end can be melted and widened to hold one ball in place.

The game will most preferably include two targets 100 spaced approximately thirty feet apart, facing each other. Two color-matched sets of three projectiles 200 will be included. Using this combination of targets 100 and projectiles 200, the game will easily accommodate two or four players. The game is played by participants taking turns tossing the projectile at the target. This will be done most preferably by grasping one of balls 210, 212 with one hand, leaving the other ball to hang like a pendulum. The participant will then swing the grasped ball towards target 100 with an underhand flipping motion, causing balls 210, 212 to spin backward in an end-over-end fashion. When projectile 200 hits target 100, it will wrap around one of the horizontal segments 130, 132, 134, hereinafter referred to as rungs. The toss is believed to be most effective if the lower ball is encouraged to swing gently backwards, then tossed on the return swing forward.

Each of rungs 130-134 may be color coded, as aforementioned, and will represent a particular point value. Middle rung 132 may, for example, be assigned three points, while top rung 134 is assigned two points and bottom rung 130 is assigned one point. When all projectiles 200 are tossed, this is called a frame, and at the end of a frame, the cumulative point values are totaled for each contestant or team.

In an alternate embodiment of scoring similar to horseshoes, where an opponent's points can be canceled, the player or team with the most points scores the difference between their points and those of the opponents for that frame. For example, if a first player wraps middle rung 132 with a first projectile and bottom rung 130 with a second projectile, that first player has scored four points. If the opponent wraps top rung 134 only, then the opponent scores two points. The scoring for the frame then will be two points for the first player. At the beginning of each subsequent frame, the player that scored on the previous frame goes first. If none of the players scores, then the players will alternate. Most preferably, the first team to score fifteen points is declared the winner. An alternate embodiment scoring method is to require exactly 15 points to win. The penalty for scoring more than fifteen is to reduce the previous score by the amount the leader went over. For example, if a player had thirteen points and scored three, then the player would be one over. Consequently, the original thirteen is reduced by one point to twelve points.

Team play can occur by placing one member from each team next to one of the two opposing targets 100. Then, one frame will be played by one member from each team. The players do not have to travel between the targets 100. Instead, the next frame will be played by their team mates, who will be tossing the projectiles 200 back to the target 100 they are standing near. Many other variations are possible in the play and scoring, while still observing the spirit of the invention. Because the participants are side-by-side throughout the play of the game, interpersonal communication is encouraged and supported by the activity, thereby creating a more enjoyable and even relaxing atmosphere of play than can be had in some other forms of competitive or semi-competitive recreation.

While the foregoing details cover what is believed to be the preferred embodiment of the invention, no material limitations to the scope of the claimed invention are intended. Further, features and design alternatives that would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art are considered to be incorporated herein. For example, only one target 100 may be used, and a line spaced from target 100 can be drawn upon the ground to designate the tossing location. In other alternative embodiments, a plurality of targets 100 may be used, and a course may be traversed by the players. While three rungs 130, 132, and 134 are most preferred, other numbers or combinations of rungs are possible. The scope of the invention is therefore set forth and particularly described in the claims hereinbelow.