The Caber Toss
A centerpiece of the modern Highland Games, the caber toss requires strength, balance and timing. The caber is a tapered log approximately 16 to 20 feet long and weighing 60 to 140 pounds for men. (These weights and measures vary at different games depending on the field of athletes and the terrain.) The athlete hoists the caber and folds his or her hands under the end while cradling it against the shoulder. Gaining the balance of the upright caber, s/he will run briefly with it to gain momentum for the toss. Followed by field judges, the competitor heaves the caber up and over to ground its heavy end and let it fall forward. The field judge will ascribe a “score” to the toss. If the caber is “turned” it will be scored with its landing position relative to the face of a giant clock. 12:00 being a perfect score. If the caber doesn’t tum over, it is scored by the degree it rose from the ground.
The Clachneart or “Stone”
This ancient event is similar to the modern-day shotput, using a stone approximately 16 to 28 pounds instead of a steel ball. The stone must be put from the front of the shoulder using one hand only. Each competitor is allowed a seven-and-a-half foot run-up to the toe-board, or trig, for the Open Stone. The Braemar style of stone puts allows no approach. The contestants are judged on the longest of the three tosses. If the athlete touches the top of the trig or the ground in front of it during an attempt, the toss is not counted.
The 28 and 56 Pound Throw
Using metal weights with a chain or handle attached, the athletes are throwing for distance. The weight is thrown one-handed from behind the trig (toe-board) with a nine-foot run-up allowed. Any style may be used but the most popular and efficient is to spin like a discus thrower. The contestants are judged on the longest of three tosses. If the athlete touches the top of the trig or the ground in front of it during an attempt, the throw is not counted.
The 56 Pound Weight Toss
The objective of this strength event is to toss the 56 pound weight with attached handle over a horizontal bar. The starting height of competition is the lowest agreed upon by the competitors. Using only one hand, each athlete is allowed three attempts to clear the bar. If the weight touches the bar on its way over but doesn’t dislodge the bar, it remains a successful toss. All measurements are made from the ground to the top of the bar midway between the uprights. As the bar is raised, the field of athletes is reduced. This event continues until all competitors but one are eliminated.
The Scottish hammer, a round metal hammer-head weighing 16 to 22 pounds with a cane or PVC shaft, is thrown for distance. The athletes throw the hammer with their back to the trig (toe-board) and the throwing area. The competitor’s feet may not move until after the hammer is released. Each athlete gets three throws with the hammer and is judged by the best distance. Touching the top of the trig or the ground in front of it is a foul.
The Sheaf Toss
Using a pitchfork, the athletes hurl a 20# burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar raised between two standards. Each competitor is given three chances to clear the bar. After all attempts, the bar is raised in one to two foot increments. The continually rising bar reduces the field as competition continues until all but one athlete are eliminated.
Classes can include Men’s Professional, Men’s amateur classes “A” (top amateur), “B”, and “C” (novice), Men’s Masters (over 40), Men’s lightweight (under 190#) plus a Women’s class. Women typically use weights about half the weight of the Men’s weights.