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How to get started in Scottish Heavy Athletics

The events competed in can vary depending on which Games you are competing in. Each competition may have some or all of the following events. The thrower must compete in all events in a particular competition. Here is a short description of each: NOTE: For the weight throws, stone puts, and hammer a "trig", which is similar to the toe-board used in the shot put, is used at the front of the throwing box that the thrower cannot step beyond the front of.
  • Open Stone Put
    Similar to the shot put, except a stone is used that weighs usually between 16 and 22 pounds. It is called "open" style because any style of putting is allowed with the spin and glide styles being the most popular. The throwing area is a box 4'­6" wide and 7'­6" long. The thrower must keep one foot inside this area and not step over the back line or inside face of the trig or the throw is a foul.
  • Braemar Stone Put
    This stone put uses a heavier stone usually between 22 and 28 pounds and it must be put from a standing position. The same throwing area and fouls for the open stone apply.
  • 56lb. Weight for Distance
    The weight can be either block or spherical shaped with links and a handle. The overall length cannot exceed 18". The weight is thrown with one hand in a throwing area 4'­6" x 9'. The thrower must keep one foot inside this area and not step over the back line or inside face of the trig or the throw is a foul.
  • 28lb. Weight for Distance
    Same as the 56lb. Weight for Distance except a 28lb. weight is used.
  • 22lb. Hammer Throw
    The hammer has a lead or steel head with a bamboo or rattan handle affixed through a hole in the head. The overall length cannot exceed 50". The athlete stands behind the trig with his back to the throwing area, winds the hammer around the head and releases over the shoulder. The athlete's feet must remain in a fixed position until the hammer is released. Boots with blades attached to the front of them are usually worn to keep the feet on the ground and in a fixed position.
  • 16lb. Hammer Throw
    Same as the 22lb. Hammer Throw except a 16lb. hammer is used.
  • Caber Toss
    The Caber is a tree that has been cut and trimmed down so one end is slightly wider than the other. It can vary length from 16 to 22 feet and between 100 and 180 pounds. The smaller end is rounded off so it will be easy to cup in the thrower's hands. The caber is stood up for the thrower with the large end up. The thrower hoists the caber up and cups the small end in his hands. He then takes a short run with the caber and then stops and pulls the caber so that the large end hits the ground and the small end flips over and faces away from the thrower. The caber is scored for accuracy as though the thrower is facing the 12:00 position on a clock face. A judge behind the thrower calls how close to the 12:00 position the small end of the caber lands, 12:00 being a perfect toss. If the caber is not turned, a side judge calls the degrees of the angle the caber makes with the ground. Sometimes a Challenge Caber is also used which is larger than the Games Caber.
  • Sheaf Toss
    The sheaf is a 16lb. or 20lb. burlap or plastic bag stuffed with either chopped rope, straw, or mulch. The sheaf is tossed over a cross bar with a pitch fork. Three attempts are allowed at each height. If the thrower misses all three tries at one height, the he is out of the competition.
  • 56lb. Weight for Height
    The weight for height is the same as used for distance except it is shorter. The weight is tossed over a cross bar with one hand. Three attempts are allowed at each height. If the thrower misses all three tries at one height, the he is out of the competition.

  • Professional
    The highest level of Scottish Athletics, prize money is awarded according to placing. This class is usually entered by invitation only.
  • Amateur
    This is the class you want to try and get into if you are a beginner. The athletes in this class range from first-timers to experienced throwers who are trying to improve enough to compete with the pros. At some Games there can be up to three different Amateur classes to divide up Amateurs of different skill levels.
  • Master
    This class is for throwers of ages 40 and up. The exact range of the age group can vary; usually it is either 40+, 45+, or 50+.
  • Women
    This one is self-explanatory, sometimes it is also divided up into different skilled classes.
  • 190lb. & Under
    This class is only used in Games in the Mid-Western U.S. It is an Amateur class in which all throwers weight 190lb. or less.

    In the Eastern U.S. and Canada it is the thrower's decision if he wants to advance from the Amateur class to the Pro class. The thrower must first determine if his throws are far enough and if he is well known enough to get invited to the Pro Games. In California the SAAA has a set of distances that the thrower must throw beyond before he can advance to the Pro class.

    To find a competition near you to compete in, you can one of two things:
    1. Search through the NASGA calendar and other calendars of Highland Games, find some that you would like to attend, and contact the person or organization listed.
    2. Call the Highland Games organization near where you want to compete and contact them.
    These are the organizations:

    NASGA - North American Scottish Games Athletics
    Area covered: Eastern U.S. and Ontario, Canada, based in Michigan
    Kurt Pauli
    8149 Henry Ruff
    Westland, MI 48185

    SAAA - Scottish American Athletic Association
    Area covered: Western U.S., based in California
    Mark Robinson
    2212 Caswell Ave.
    Ceres, CA 95307
    (209) 538-8336

    RMSA - Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletic Group
    Area covered: Mid-Western U.S., based in Colorado
    Greg Bradshaw
    14426 East Wyoming Pl.
    Aurora, CO 80012
    (303) 750-0311

    SSAA - Southeast Scottish Amateur Athletics
    Area covered: Southeastern U.S.
    SSAA, Inc.
    PO Box 175
    Culloden, GA 31016
    (303) 750-0311

    Train for the Heavy Events, you will first need implements to train with. Once you have the implements, you need to learn the proper technique for throwing them.
  • Getting the Implements
    The stone is easy to get, try to find one around 16lbs. that is smooth and round or oval-shaped. The weights and hammers though will have to made or purchased. Here are some contacts for people that make Heavy Events implements:

    Old Celt's Highland Games Athletic Equipment
    1071 Deer Run Lane
    Crownsville, MD 21032
    Home: (410)721-7610
    Work: (301)805-4858
    Fax: (301)805-4856

    Mjolnir Hammers Ltd.
    PO Box 221
    Beverly, WA 99321-0221

    Edwin W. Holcombe
    333 Coinbow Drive
    Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

    Making your own weights can be done a few different ways. One is to make a mold and melt the iron or lead yourself, another is to pour cement into a coffee can with chain links sunk in the top, and still another is to cut a dumbbell in half and weld links and a handle to it.
  • Learning the Techniques
    There are two ways to learn the complicated techniques of the different Heavy Events:
    1. Find another thrower(s) in your area willing to explain the techniques to you. You can find out about other throwers in your area by visiting Games nearby or calling one of the organizations listed above. It is a good idea to go to as many Games as you can to watch other throwers, video tape them, and ask questions.
    2. Buy training videos that explain the techniques and show some of the top throwers in action. These are available from:

    VP Productions
    8149 Henry Ruff
    Westland, MI 48185

    When you find a Games with an Amateur class you want to be in, be sure to call at least two months in advance because the amount of Amateurs let into a Games is usually limited. Be sure to tell the Athletic Director you want to enter in the Amateur class. It is also a good idea to find out the exact time and location of the competition and which events will be competed in.

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