Before you get it in your head to don a suit of armor and try to skewer someone, pay careful attention to the rules below. What you are about to read are the rules for competitive ring jousting…which in no way involves ramming people with a lance. There are competitions for medieval style knight on knight jousting (you can usually find them at your local renaissance festival), but the one described here is not a contact sport. We at GameRulesGuru are proud to say that this is the official sport of our home state of Maryland!

Number of Players

This is an individual competition where several competitors may compete in a single event.

Playing Field

An 80 yard track with 3 overhead arches (they can be full or half arches). There is a marker 20 yards in front of the first arch, and 30 yards between each arch. There also needs to be enough space in front of the marker for a horse to rev up to full speed.


Sympathies to the enthusiast on a tight budget…this is one expensive sport! Each competitor will need: 1 lance, whatever type of saddle and tack is preferred, comfortable attire, and 1 horse (of course…sorry). Any breed of horse may be used (right down to Shetland ponies for the kids’ divisions!). There is no official rule governing lance specifications, therefore it can be most any length, and constructed from any number of materials. Most lances are approximately 6 lbs. and 6’ long. Other equipment includes a set of metal rings wrapped in bright white cording, and small hinged iron bars used to suspend them from the arches. The rings come in sizes from 1¾” to ¼” (gradually reducing in size in ¼” intervals). The official ring size is determined by the inside diameter of the ring. Most tournaments also require several people to act as officials, and timers.


The appropriate sized rings for each round are attached to the iron bars using a steel spring clip, and hung from the arches at a height of 6’9”. Each competitor before their run should position their horse at a good distance from the marker (about 160 yards). The timer is positioned at the marker.


At each rider’s leisure, they charge their horse toward the track. Once the horse crosses the marker, the timer starts. The rider then attempts to spear the rings using his or her lance. Time stops when the horse passes the full 80 yard distance. If the horse does not manage to traverse the 80 yard track in 8 seconds or under, then the ride does not count (this rule is presumably designed to ensure a certain degree of speed and discourage riders from gaining an advantage by simply trotting down the course at a leisurely pace). Each competitor is allowed three passes down the track, with their best score of the three being recorded. Specific rules vary from club to club, and competition to competition. Usually, riders are allowed one false start without penalty. Typically, any ring caught by a lance must be inspected by a judge before anyone else touches it (to insure that it was a clean capture). Most tournaments begin the opening round with the largest sized rings, and use increasingly smaller ones as the rounds progress (smaller rings are also often used for tie breakers).


The system of scoring varies widely depending on the organization and the type of event. It can be anything from a simple “1 ring = 1 point” system, to a composite score based on number of rings captured, time, level of difficulty, and even style points.


Based on the fact that there is a very loose overall rule structure for the entire sport, the object depends on the competition. As a personal objective however, you may just rack up a huge number of “cool” points.

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