Heavy Events

One of the main attractions at the Games are the heavyweight athletes taking part in the different events over the course of the afternoon. The athletes commence with the 22lb shot putt, move on to throwing the 28lb weight for distance, throwing the 16lb hammer for distance, throwing the 56lb weight over the bar for height and finishing with tossing the caber.

Ever since the days when the various clans had battles between each other to prove their strength, prowess, agility and fleetness of speed, there has been a keen interest to prove this fete of strength by men against each other.

New for 2019 – the committee are delighted to welcome female entries in our Heavy competitions.

With the variety of events in which the heavyweight athletes participate they must develop the necessary power and strength of all muscle groups throughout the body from the feet through their legs and body and eventually to arms and fingers. Athletes must train hard to achieve this level of fitness.

Open Events – Entry Form

The committee are pleased to report that at the Glenurquhart Highland Gathering & Games on 27 August 2016, George Evans successfully threw the 42lb weight “Over the Bar”, a height of 17’ 8”. This has been ratified by the Scottish Highland Games Association as a “World Youth Record”.

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General Rules

Each competitor has three attempts in each event with the best of three to count.

In the interests of safety, the Judge has the right to disqualify any competitor who does not come up to the standard in any of the heavy events.

All competitors must appear and compete in highland dress.

In all events, after normal competition is complete, the winner will be given the opportunity to attempt both ground and National records. They will be given one attempt for the ground record if not broken within the normal competition, and if successful, one further attempt for the National record.

Events are held under Scottish Highland Games Association Rules.

Measurements will be taken from the centre of the trig to the nearest break of ground.

Shot Putt

Probably one of the oldest of the heavyweight events which take place at the Highland Games is putting the stone or ball. The stone which can vary in shape and weight comes from the bed of a river where the action of the water has worn the stone to the required smoothness. At most Games the stone has now been replaced with a iron ball which weighs either 16lbs or 22lbs. The stone or ball is putt with one hand in front of the shoulder.

Weight for Distance

The weight is an iron sphere of 28lbs on a chain with a handle on the end, which measures 18″ overall. It is delivered from behind the trig, with a run up not exceeding 9 feet. The thrower swings the weight to the side, then round behind him, letting the weight drag as far as he can. He then waltzes round once, twice and on the third turn, he heaves the weight round and throws it as far as he can. The main problem here is for the thrower, having gathered up so much speed in turning, to stop at the trig!

Throwing the Hammer

This event represents an old contest where young locals would compete to see who could throw the blacksmith’s heavy sledgehammer the furthest. The Scots hammer now used is a iron ball with a bamboo shaft 4ft 2ins long and weighs either 16lbs or 22lbs.  The athlete stands with his back to the wooden trig and after having swung the hammer round his head a number of times to gain sufficient momentum, he releases the hammer as far as he can. Strong hands perfect timing and speed are all important for this exciting and popular event. Formerly the hammer had to be thrown without moving either foot, but nowadays the athlete steps out with one foot which gives them more purchase on the hammer and results in greater distances being obtained. The athletes wear special boots for this event with spikes attached to the front which enables them to dig in and obtain a secure hold in the ground.

Weight Over Bar

The standard commercial box weight of 56lbs with a ring attached is used for throwing the weight for height.  Like the high jump, each competitor has three attempts at each height. Great strength is required although this is belied by the nonchalant attitude adopted by most competitors. Thrown correctly, the weight narrowly misses the competitor on the way down. If it is thrown wrongly, the competitor may have to look lively in order to avoid being hit! The weight is equivalent to half a bag of coal. The athletes repeat this performance until the bar has been raised to a height when only one of two athletes are left in the competition as outright winners or sharing the same height.

Tossing the Caber

The most spectacular of the heavy events involves a tree trunk weighing perhaps 150lbs, about 18 feet long and tapering from about 9″ thick at one end to about 5″ at the other. The competitor lifts the caber by placing his interlocked hands under the narrower end, resting its length against his shoulder, he then runs as fast as he can, stops dead and tosses the end he holds up in the air so that the heavy end lands on the ground and the light end passes over it and lands pointing away from him. There is an erroneous belief that the winner is the competitor who tosses the caber furthest, whereas it is in fact the one who tosses it straightest. The Competition is judged with the aid on an imaginary clockface. The competitor delivers his throw at 6 o’clock. He tosses the caber so that it lands in the centre of the dial. A perfect throw is one which goes straight over, with the light end landing at 12 o’clock precisely.