Title:
POOL CUE SYSTEMS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Pool cue systems are disclosed which include at least one graphical icon on the pool cue shaft adapted to be observed within the shooter's peripheral vision while shooting pool. The icons are preferably aligned along the longitudinal axis of the pool cue shaft at predetermined distances indicative of game parameters, which are stroke lengths, bridge hand locations, and stroke speeds. The icons are adapted to enable easy peripheral observation of pool cue stick motion while shooting pool with the eyes focused on an object billiard ball. The icons may additionally be decorative. Methods of use, making, and doing business are integral to the pool cue systems.



Inventors:
Evans, Kirk Boyd (Chandler, AZ, US)
Evans, Wayne Kirk (Chandler, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/124127
Publication Date:
09/11/2008
Filing Date:
05/20/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/44
International Classes:
A63D15/00; A63F9/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KEITH L. JENKINS, Registered Patent Attorney, LLC (44075 W. Neely Drive, Maricopa, AZ, 85138, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pool cue system comprising: a) a pool cue shaft having: i) a length; ii) an exterior surface; iii) a tip end; iv) a circumference; v) a distal end; and vi) a ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue shaft proximate the tip end; and b) a first icon appearing on said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft, observable within a user's peripheral vision when said pool cue shaft is in use, c) wherein said first icon is located a first predetermined distance axially along said pool cue shaft from said ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and d) said predetermined distance is equal to a first stroke length.

2. The pool cue system of claim 1, further comprising: a) a second icon appearing on said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft, observable within a user's peripheral vision when said pool cue shaft is in use, b) wherein said second icon is located a second predetermined distance axially along said pool cue shaft from said ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and c) said second predetermined distance is equal to a second stroke length.

3. The pool cue system of claim 2, wherein: a) said second icon has an iconic axis aligned to said length of said pool cue; b) said second icon has a multi-variant half-width along said iconic axis.

4. The pool cue system of claim 3, wherein said first icon comprises a feature of a larger iconic design.

5. The pool cue system of claim 2, wherein said second icon comprises a second icon disposed about said entire circumference of said pool cue shaft.

6. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein: a) said first icon has an iconic axis aligned to said length of said pool cue; and b) said first icon comprises a multi-variant half-width along said iconic axis.

7. The pool cue system of claim 6, wherein said first icon comprises a feature of a larger iconic design.

8. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said first icon comprises a first icon disposed about said entire circumference of said pool cue shaft.

9. The pool cue system of claim 1, further comprising at least two icons axially aligned to said first icon.

10. A pool cue system comprising: a) a pool cue shaft having: i) a length; ii) an exterior surface; iii) a tip end; iv) a circumference; v) a distal end; and vi) a ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue shaft proximate the tip end; and b) a first icon appearing on said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft, observable within a user's peripheral vision when said pool cue shaft is in use, c) wherein said first icon is located a first predetermined distance axially along said pool cue shaft from said ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and d) said first predetermined distance is equal to a first stroke length; e) a second icon appearing on said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft, observable within a user's peripheral vision when said pool cue shaft is in use, f) wherein said second icon is located a second predetermined distance axially along said pool cue shaft from said ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and g) said second predetermined distance is equal to a second stroke length.

11. The pool cue system of claim 10, wherein: a) said first and second icons each have an iconic axis aligned to said length of said pool cue; and b) said first and second icons each have a multi-variant half-width dimension along said iconic axis.

12. The pool cue system of claim 11, wherein said first and second icons each comprises a feature of a larger iconic design.

13. The pool cue system of claim 12, wherein said first icon comprises a first icon disposed about said entire circumference of said pool cue shaft.

14. The pool cue system of claim 16, further comprising at least two icons axially aligned to said first icon.

15. A pool cue system comprising: a) a pool cue shaft having: i) a length; ii) an exterior surface; iii) a tip end; iv) a circumference; v) a distal end; and vi) a ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue shaft proximate the tip end; and b) a first icon appearing on said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft, observable within a user's peripheral vision when said pool cue shaft is in use, c) wherein said first icon is located a first predetermined distance axially along said pool cue shaft from said ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and d) said predetermined distance is equal to one of a first stroke length and a first bridge hand location.

16. The pool cue system of claim 15, further comprising: a) a second icon appearing on said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft, observable within a user's peripheral vision when said pool cue shaft is in use, b) wherein said second icon is located a second predetermined distance axially along said pool cue shaft from said ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and c) said second predetermined distance is equal to one of a second stroke length, a second bridge hand location, and a graduated offset from said first predetermined distance.

17. The pool cue system of claim 16, wherein at least one of said first icon and said second icon comprises an icon disposed circumferentially about said pool cue shaft.

18. The pool cue system of claim 16, wherein: a) at least one of said first icon and said second icon comprises an icon having an iconic axis aligned to said length of said pool cue; and b) at least one of said first and second icons has a multi-variant half-width dimension along said iconic axis.

19. The pool cue system of claim 16, wherein said first and second icons each comprises a feature of a larger iconic design.

20. The pool cue system of claim 16, further comprising at least two icons axially aligned to said first icon.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 10/949,868 for POOL CUE SYSTEMS filed Sep. 25, 2004 by Evans, et al. and which, in turn, claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/599,632 filed Aug. 5, 2004 entitled POOL CUE SYSTEMS.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a pool cue system including a novel pool cue shaft and methods for using same, and more particularly to a pool cue system including pool cue stick with a cue shaft having one or more stroke graduations iconified thereon which are within the peripheral vision of a pool cue stick user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pool cue sticks are used for shooting pool and in related billiard games. Typically, a pool cue stick has a smooth-surfaced forward portion, or pool cue shaft, having a first end upon which a tip for impacting a billiard ball or pool cue ball is attached. The attachment may include a ferrule for holding a tip in place or for other purposes. Pool cue sticks are commercially available in single-piece and two-piece construction. With the single-piece construction pool cue stick, a handle portion, or butt or cue, extends continuously in generally axial alignment from the second end of the pool cue shaft. A pool cue stick having two-piece construction typically has a coupling between the pool cue shaft and the handle portion that may be connected or disconnected by hand. Decoration of the handle portion is well known, with some ornate versions selling for thousands of dollars. Pool cue sticks are manufactured in various standard lengths for persons of respectively varied sizes.

In shooting pool, the pool cue stick is used to impact and propel a cue ball to subsequently impact an object ball in order to propel the object ball, or a subsequently impacted billiard ball, into a pocket near the periphery of a pool table playing surface. The motion of the pool stick toward the cue ball is called the “stroke.” When making the pool shot, the pool shooter's eye should be focused on the object ball for best results. The cue ball and the pool cue shaft are usually within the peripheral vision of the pool shooter. Control of the pool cue stick during the stroke is critical to accuracy, as both the resultant spin and velocity of the cue ball will determine the subsequent path of the object ball toward the pocket.

To learn to control the pool cue stick requires observing the motion of the cue stick while shooting, in order to learn how variations in pool cue motion affect the shot. For example, unintended small sideways motions of the pool cue stick will degrade shot accuracy. Other motion of the stick, such as stroke length, speed, rotation, and vertical motion are also important to shot accuracy. To observe these pool cue stick motions, beginners often focus their eyes on the pool cue stick and/or the point where the tip of the pool cue shaft will impact the cue ball, with frustrating results.

A number of apparatuses for improving aiming with pool cue sticks have accompanied the increasing popularity of the sport of pool and related billiard games. Assorted training devices for improving aim are available, but cannot generally be used in competition. Many of these are cumbersome, such as mechanical devices that attach to the pool cue shaft or other practice devices that cannot be used in tournament play. Some of the mechanical devices may interfere with the bridge hand (the hand upon which or within which the pool cue stick slides during a shot), thereby teaching worse practices. Still other approaches require the pool shooter to focus on the point where the tip of the pool cue stick impacts the cue ball, thereby preventing the student from focusing on the object ball, which is the preferred method. One apparatus that can be used in competition provides a pair of longitudinal sighting references that do not improve stroke length or stroke speed visualization.

British patent application GB 2219517A published Dec. 13, 1989 discloses “[A] cue bearing a sighting aid at a position within the user's field of view when using the cue, normally nearer the striking tip of the cue than the user's eyes, so that simply keeping the sighting aid in view assists the player in moving the cue reliably in the intended direction for the cue ball and in avoiding twisting of the cue” (Gibney 2). Gibney discloses that its sighting aid may be “an arrow formation including a straight line shaft and connected to spaced head or V” (Gibney 6). Gibney also discloses that “[I]t is to be appreciated that any way of marking a suitable eye-training component or indication may be employed, and that its nature is subject to considerable variation compared with a simple solid or outline V as indicated in the drawings” (Gibney 6). Gibney does not disclose locating his icons based on a stroke length, a bridge-hand location, or calibrations for stroke speed.

The present inventors have identified and isolated the problem: what is lacking are methods and apparatuses (together comprising a pool cue system) which enable easy peripheral observation of various pool cue stick motions by the pool shooter and which can be used during tournament play. Accordingly, what is needed is a pool cue system including a pool cue stick having a device that easily reveals pool cue stick motion to the peripheral vision of the pool shooter. A further need is that the device for revealing pool cue stick motion does not interfere with the stroke of the pool cue stick during preparatory strokes and shots. Another need is for the device to easily reveal the stroke length and speed to the peripheral vision of the pool shooter. A further need is for the device to be allowable in tournament play. Yet a further need is for the pool cue system to easily reveal rotational motion of the pool cue stick about each of three axes of rotation. Yet another need is for the pool cue system to indicate properties of the pool cue shaft. Yet another need is for a pool cue system to assist in advertising during tournament play. Yet another need is for the pool cue system to be economical, practical, and durable. To meet the above-mentioned needs and to solve the above-mentioned problems, applicants present what follows.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the present invention provides one or more graphical icons appearing on the pool cue shaft that have axes aligned with the long axis of the pool cue shaft. The icons may be located according to a predetermined standard, optionally related to the size of the pool stick, or may be placed according to individual custom specification. In a preferred embodiment, the graphical icons are at least partially circumferential about the pool cue shaft. The icons may be formed using any means. Preferably, the icons do not protrude from the smooth surface of the pool cue shaft.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective cutaway view illustrating a pool shooter using an exemplary embodiment of the pool cue system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a pool cue shaft of the exemplary pool cue system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating another exemplary embodiment of a pool cue shaft of an exemplary pool cue system according to the present invention and showing section lines for section 3-3′;

FIG. 4A is a sectional view along section 3-3′ of FIG. 3 illustrating the interior 400 of the exemplary embodiment of the exemplary pool cue system of FIG. 3;

FIG. 4B is a sectional view along section 3-3′ of FIG. 3 illustrating the interior of an alternate exemplary embodiment of the exemplary pool cue system of FIG. 3

FIG. 5 is a side view illustrating an embodiment of an exemplary pool cue stick of an exemplary pool cue system having a pool cue shaft portion according to the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a side view illustrating an embodiment of a pool cue shaft of an exemplary pool cue system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the invention or the application and uses of the invention. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any expressed or implied theory presented in the preceding technical field, background, brief summary or the following detailed description.

FIG. 1 is a perspective cutaway view illustrating a pool shooter 102 using an exemplary embodiment of the pool cue system 100 according to the present invention. Pool shooter 102 is shown using an exemplary embodiment of the pool cue stick 104, including pool cue shaft 106, ferrule 110, and tip 108. The pool shooter 102 has aligned the pool cue stick 104 with a desired velocity vector of the cue ball 114 towards the object ball 116 in expectation of causing the object ball 116 to fall into a pocket 118. The eyes of the pool shooter 102 are focused on the object ball 116, creating line of sight 126 as indicated by the dashed line. The iconic graduations (hereinafter “icons” or “graduating icons”) 122 and 124 appearing on the pool cue shaft 106 are within the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102, as indicated by the dotted lines. The icons 122 and 124 are referred to as “graduations” by virtue of being located at predetermined distances from the tip 108 or the ferrule 110 in order to be used as stroke length indicators, bridge hand locations, and stroke speed graduations. For example, the first icon 122 may be located immediately proximate the shooter's bridge hand 112 when the tip 108 of the pool cue shaft 106 is almost touching the cue ball 114, and a second icon 124 may be located immediately proximate the shooter's bridge hand 112 at the end of the stroke. In that example, the predetermined distance between the icons 122 and 124 and their relationship to ferrule 110 defines the desired stroke length. In an alternate embodiment having only a single icon 122 or 124, a predetermined distance between the ferrule 110 and the icon 122 or 124 by define a stroke length.

The icons 122 and 124 are graphical designs appearing to the peripheral vision 120 of a pool shooter 102 at the exterior surface of the pool cue shaft 106 when the pool cue 104 is in use. The icons 122 and 124 should be large enough to be distinct in the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102. A minimum width and length of ¼ inch is preferred and a maximum length of one inch for the icon is also preferred. An icon 122 or 124 may be a portion of a larger iconic design. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as various pool shots and techniques, expertise of the prospective user, and ergonomic factors, other predetermined distances, such as those adapted for particular shots or techniques, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

Pool shooter 102 preferably observes pool cue shaft 106 motion with his peripheral vision 120 during preparatory motions of the pool stick 104 and during the actual shot. The preparatory motions are strokes similar to a pool shot stroke but which do not contact the cue ball 114. Peripheral observations made during preparatory motions enable the pool shooter 102 to refine his shot by peripherally observing repeated pool cue shaft 106 preparatory motions and sequentially refining his stroke length and stroke speed. When pool cue stick 104 stroke lengths and stroke speeds have been satisfactorily refined, the stroke is said to be “locked in”, and the shot stroke is then executed. Preferably, the icons 122 and 124 are positioned, sized, surface-treated, and shaped to be clearly visible in the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102 during preparatory motions. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as the various pool shots to be made, user preference, and ergonomic factors, etc., other arrangements of icons 122 and 124, such as arrangements adapted to enhance peripheral visibility for a plurality of the various shots during preparatory motions, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

In various alternate embodiments, additional icons 122 and 124 may be added for various stroke lengths corresponding to various shots. For example, a longer stroke length may be indicated for a break shot than for an ordinary pool shot. In other alternate embodiments, the predetermined distance may indicate a user-preferred viewing relationship rather than a stroke length. In another preferred embodiment, there may be a single icon 122 or 124 having a predetermined distance from the ferrule 110. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as level of expertise of the prospective user, sophistication of the prospective user, and ergonomic factors, other arrangements of icons, such as larger numbers of icons, equally spaced-apart sequences of icons, icons having various sizes scaled to the graduation distances, various designs of icons 122 and 124, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating an exemplary embodiment 200 of a pool cue shaft 106 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 of FIG. 1. The pool cue shaft 106 preferably has a tip end 220 and a distal end 240. A ferrule-receiving portion 230 of pool cue shaft 106 supports the ferrule 110 and the tip 108, while the distal end supports coupling 210. Icons 122 and 124 are illustrated as circumferential bands, or rings, about the pool cue shaft 106. Circumferential icons 122 and 124 may be applied superficially or may be discs built into the pool cue shaft 106. The icons 122 and 124 may be of any material having a surface that will easily catch the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102. For example, metals, holographic materials, stones, plastics, wood of a contrasting color, composite materials, ceramics, pigments, or bone. Preferably, the material forming the icons 122 and 124 is selected to maintain the stiffness and elasticity of the material of the pool cue shaft 106. Icons 122 and 124 may be of different materials. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as user preference, desired contrast level, and materials availability, other types of materials, such as mother-of-pearl, rhinestones, electronic materials, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

In some alternate embodiments, the icons 122 and 124 may be images caused to appear at the outer surface of the pool cue shaft 106. For example, a projection apparatus (for example, a light source, a lens, and an iconic mask) located inside a transparent pool cue shaft 106 may project an iconic image through the transparent pool cue shaft 106, causing the icon 122 or 124 to become apparent to an outside viewer. A first advantage of such a system may be the ability to adjust the positions of the icons 122 or 124 on a particular pool cue shaft 106 by changing the projection apparatus position or focus. Another advantage of such a pool cue system 100 may be the ability to turn the icons 122 and 124 off when desired. For another example, the icon 122 or 124 may be formed by providing a transparent material in an iconic shape inlaid in an opaque pool cue shaft 106 and illuminated from within the pool cue shaft 106. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as cost, pool cue stick 104 weight and balance, etc., other types of iconic imaging, such as external projection, liquid crystal displays, etc., may be used to produce graduating icons 122 and 124 appearing on pool cue shaft 106 of pool cue system 100.

In a preferred embodiment, icon 122 is located slightly more than four inches from the ferrule 110 and icon 124 is located approximately ten inches from the ferrule 110. This relationship enables easy peripheral observation of the stroke lengths for the pool cue shaft 106 during a shot. For visualization of stroke speed along the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue stick 104, circumferential icons 122 and 124 are preferably non-uniformly circumferential. For example, a circumferential band of icons, such as diamonds, preferably discrete, provides improved peripheral visualization of the stroke speed of the pool cue shaft 106. In another preferred embodiment using one icon 124, that icon 124 is located approximately ten inches from the ferrule 110, which may also serve as a relative point of reference for peripheral visualization. Stroke length may also be observed, thereby permitting improved control of the speed of the cue ball 114 (FIG. 1). Peripheral observation of the pool cue stick 104 stroke improves shooting. Experimentation with the embodiment of FIG. 2 improved the experimental subjects' ratings by 1 to 1.5 levels.

FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating another exemplary embodiment 300 of a pool cue shaft 106 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 according to the present invention and showing section lines for section 3-3′. In a preferred embodiment, first icon 302 is located a first predetermined distance 312 from ferrule 110 and that first predetermined distance 312 is a stroke length or bridge hand 112 location. Second icon 304 is located a second predetermined distance 313 from ferrule 110 and that second predetermined distance 313 a second stroke length, second bridge hand location, or graduated offset 314 from the first icon. Second icon 304 is thereby a third predetermined distance 314 from first icon 302, and that graduated offset 314 is graduated for stroke length or to assist in observing stroke speed. Third icon 306 is located a fourth predetermined distance 315 from ferrule 110 and that fourth predetermined distance 315 is a third stroke length, third bridge hand location, or a graduated offset 318 from the second icon 304. Icon 306 also creates fifth and sixth predetermined distances 318 and 320, which are preferably related to stroke length or stoke speed. Preferably, the game parameters to which fifth and sixth predetermined distances 318 and 320 are related are the game parameters related to stroke parameters, such as stroke lengths and stroke speeds. “Game parameters” as defined and used herein, mean measurable quantities, including stroke lengths, bridge hand locations, and graduated offsets that can be used to aid in measuring stroke speed. The term “game parameters” as defined and used herein, does not include processes, such as “aiming”, which involves angular estimation. In the above-mentioned preferred embodiment sixth predetermined distance 320 represents a second offset from icon first 302 for gauging stroke length or stroke speed. The first predetermined distance 312 from the ferrule 110 to the icon 302 is preferably more than four inches. Preferably, the icon 306 closest to the coupling 210 is at least four inches from the coupling 210.

Icons 302, 304, and 306 have half-widths 322 that vary at least twice. For example, as the variation in half-width is viewed along axis 321, icon 306 first becomes wider and then becomes narrower. The present inventor has found that such bi-variant icons assist in stroke speed estimation. Icons 302, 304, and 306 each exhibit this bi-variant property. Icons of greater complexity, having multi-variant half-widths (a super set of the subset of bi-variant half-widths), are also within the scope of the present invention. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as age and size of the intended user, particular game parameters, and length 316 of the pool cue shaft 106, other or additional predetermined distances, such as shorter, longer, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

Graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 preferably contrast with the color of the pool cue shaft 106 for easy peripheral visualization. The icons 302, 304, and 306 may be of any shape or design and are preferably aligned along the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue shaft 106. The icons 302, 304, and 306 may be decorative as well as functional. For example, game-related shapes such as diamonds, circles, clubs, spades, hearts, dice, arrows, and the like, or sub-cultural icons 302, 304, and 306 such as moons, bats, dragons, motorcycles, skulls, crosses, and the like, may be used. In some embodiments, trademark logos may used as icons 302, 304, and 306 to provide advertising, for example, during televised pool competitions which often have an overhead television camera showing pool cue shafts 106. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate the wide variety of icons 302, 304, and 306, such as coats of arms, flags, team colors or logos, etc., that may be used with pool cue system 100.

Some pool cue shafts 106 have a stiffness that is non-uniformly distributed radially about the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue shaft 106. When such a pool cue shaft 106 is held horizontally and rotated about the longitudinal axis 201 to provide the greatest stiffness in a vertical plane, the top edge of the pool cue shaft 106 is referred to as the “spine” of the pool cue shaft 106. It is preferred to use a non-uniformly stiff pool cue shaft 106 with the spine upward. For such non-uniformly stiff pool cue shafts 106, the graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 may be aligned to indicate the spine, thereby combining the functions of stroke graduation, peripheral visualization of off-axis pool cue motion, and spine indication. Providing trademark logos as graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 on the spine of the pool cue shaft 106 may improve advertising where the logo-bearing exterior surface of pool cue shaft 106 will be facing the overhead television camera during televised competition. In an alternate embodiment, graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 may appear in pairs bracketing the spine, thereby indirectly indicating spine location. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in the art of controlling the uniformity of stiffness in pool cue shafts 106, other rotational non-uniformities in characteristics of a pool cue shaft 106, etc., other arrangements for graduating icons 302, 304, and 306, such as strength indicators, modal vibration node indicators, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 4A is a sectional view along section 3-3′ illustrating an embodiment 400 of the interior of the exemplary embodiment 300 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 of FIG. 3. The icons 302, 304, and 306 may be created by various methods. For examples, straining, applique, inlay (of any material), decal, paint, marking, embossing, engraving, carving, build-in, or cladding may be used. Icon 302 is illustrated as being formed with a dowel 401 through the pool cue shaft 106. The dowel 401 is preferably inserted into a pool cue shaft 106 blank before the blank is machined on a lathe into final form. Dowel 401 is preferably made of the same material as the pool cue shaft 106 and of a contrasting color. For example, with a wooden pool cue shaft 106, dowel 401 may be of the same wood, stained a contrasting color, and inserted to align its grain with a grain of the pool cue shaft 106. For those iconographic approaches that interrupt the smooth exterior surface 403 of the pool cue shaft 106, the smooth exterior surface 403 is preferably reestablished. For example, an engraved icon 304 may be filled with an acrylic material 405 and polished to make the exterior surface 403 of the pool cue shaft 106 smooth. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, advances in the art of manufacturing pool cue shafts 106, new image transfer techniques, etc., other methods of creating icons 302, 304, and 306 for pool cue shafts 106, such as lithography, computer printing, laser engraving, laser printing, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 4B is a sectional view along section 3-3′ illustrating an embodiment 470 of the interior of an alternate exemplary embodiment 300 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 of FIG. 3. For example, an embossed, decaled, clad, or appliqued icon 306 (illustrated in exaggerated relief) may define a new exterior surface 402 for pool cue shaft 106. A coating material 410 of preferably equal thickness may be applied to the remainder of the exterior surface 403 of pool cue shaft 106 to re-create a new smooth exterior surface 402. Coating material 410 may also be used to cover tactile variations that may be produced in making icons 302 and 304, as shown. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, advances in the art of manufacturing pool cue shafts 106, new adhesion and coating techniques, etc., other methods of applying material icons to the surfaces of pool cue shafts 106 and re-creating a smooth exterior surface 402, such as film deposition, pressure bonding, and metal plating, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 5 is a side view illustrating an embodiment 500 of an exemplary pool cue stick 502 of the pool cue system 100 having a pool cue shaft 106 portion according to the present invention. Pool cue stick 500 is illustrated as being of one-piece construction but may also represent an assembled two-piece construction pool cue stick 502. The overall length 506 of the pool cue stick 500 may be of any size acceptable for a particular type of billiard game. Handle length 504 and shaft length 316 are typically each about one-half the overall length 506. The predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318, and 320 of icons 302, 304, and 306 may be proportional to the overall length 506 and the shaft length 316. The predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318, and 320 are preferably determined based upon game parameters which are stroke parameters (stroke lengths, brifge hand locations, and stroke speeds) and optionally may also be based upon cue shaft property parameters such as spine indication or other physical properties of pool cue shaft 106. Predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318, and 320, which are initially chosen for their relationship to a game parameter, may additionally have a relationship to external factors, such as ergonomic factors, personal preference, or production standardization. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as emerging research findings in pool ergonomics, peripheral vision, and pool physics, as well as market research, etc., other arrangements of icons and predetermined distances, such as for additional shot types, variation about the pool cue shaft 106 circumference, adaptation to a children's billiard game, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 6 is a side view illustrating an embodiment 600 of the pool cue shaft 106 of the exemplary pool cue system 100. The graphical icons 602 and 604 may be features of a larger iconic design 601 visible at the exterior surface 403 of the pool cue shaft 106. For example, a larger iconic design 601 comprising two transverse extensions 602 and 604 to a longitudinal line 606 may suffice to provide stroke graduations along the pool cue shaft 106. Longitudinal line 606 may be, for example, representational of an iconic dragon's spine, an iconic alligator's spine, or the centerline of an iconic motorcycle, viewed from above. The transverse extensions 602 and 604 may represent iconic wings, legs, and handlebars, respectively. In an alternate embodiment, the extensions 602 and 604 may be at least partially circumferential about the pool cue shaft 106. In another alternate embodiment, the ferrule 110 may support an icon 122, 124, 302, 304, 306, 602 or 604. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate the wide variety of icon design features, such as dragon eyes, spots on butterfly wings, colored rings on a coral snake design, etc., that may be used to produce icons 602 and 604 for marking graduations on a pool cue shaft 106 in pool cue system 100.

While at least one exemplary embodiment has been presented in the foregoing detailed description, it should be appreciated that a vast number of variations exist. It should also be appreciated that the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments are only examples, and are not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the foregoing detailed description will provide those skilled in the art with a convenient road map for implementing the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments. It should be understood that various changes can be made in the function and arrangement of elements without departing from the scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims and the legal equivalents thereof.





 
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