Out of all of the Scottish heavyweight events, the caber toss is the most known and certainly the most popular. The competitor must “pick” (pick up) the caber, run, and toss it so it lands straight out from him at a 12 o’clock position. The caber is tossed for accuracy, not distance. The judge must “call it” just as the caber hits the ground. A side judge will sometimes be used to determine if the caber rotated through 90 degrees – if not it’s a “Fifer” and not counted. The caber can be any size, and can range between 18′ to 26′, and weigh from approximately 100lbs to 150lbs. Size is important, but so is the athlete’s style. The competition caber is a red Nova Scotia spruce that will, no doubt, continue the Antigonish tradition of big tough cabers. Antigonish is known worldwide for using cabers that will bring out the very best a thrower can muster in attempting to master the “Big Stick”.
The 56lb Weight for Height
The Weight for Height uses a 56lb mass attached to a round handle that athletes must heave over a bar using a technique that does not allow foot movement. Favored by the more powerful athlete, only one hand is permitted for the throw. This crowd-pleasing event is used to close out the Saturday afternoon competition, when spectators are invited onto the field to watch the action up close and personal. Each athlete gets three attempts to clear each height. They may choose to pass lower heights, but when they choose to enter the competition, they cannot pass again. World class heights of 16 feet and higher will determine the eventual winner of this exciting event.
16lb and 22lb Scottish Hammer Throw
The Scottish hammers were being thrown centuries before the Olympic Games, but the modern sport evolved from Scottish roots. In the Ancient Scottish event, a round mass weighing 16lbs (light) or 22lbs (heavy) is attached to a 50″ PVC or rattan handle and thrown for distance. The competitors are not permitted to move their feet, and must rotate or “wind” the hammer to gain momentum before releasing it into the air. The throw is measured for distance to where the hammer head hits the ground. Most athletes wear special “hammer boots” – a heavy boot with a long spike or blade extending past the toes – which they dig into the earth to help maintain footing during the rotations. The athlete must stay behind the trig and cannot move their feet until the hammer is released. Heavy hammer throws over 100 feet are respectable on any field, light hammer throws over 130 feet are considered to be elite-level.
17lb Open Stone
This event is much like the more familiar shot put, except a field stone weighing 17lbs is used. It is “put” from behind a “trig”- which is a marker log on the ground and the athlete may not cross the trig at any time or his/her throw is not counted. The stone is “put”-pushed from the shoulder in many different styles, though many athletes choose a back-facing glide-type movement or a spinning technique. The stone is marked where it hits the ground – the roll is just for the crowd. Throws over 50 feet are considered to be elite-level.
22lb Braemar Stone
Often called the Standing Stone putt, athletes must push a 22lb stone from the shoulder without moving their feet to advance their position. As in the other disciplines, they may not step outside of the trig area nor past the trig board following their attempt. Athletes are aiming for distances of 40 feet and beyond.
56lb Weight for Distance
Sometimes referred to as ‘The Widow Maker’ the 56lb weight for distance is the most technically and physically difficult of the three weight events. The implement is a 56lb mass suspended from a chain attached to a round or triangular handle that can be no longer than 18 inches. Known for literally ripping the skin off the athlete’s hand, the forces experienced by athletes hands and shoulder exceed 500lbs when the weight speeds up. Standing in a 7’6” by 4’6” lined trig, the athlete must release the implement and maintain control in this confined space. The athletes typically use a two spin technique to generate speed and throw the weight as far as possible. Throws of 40 feet and farther are considered elite distances.
28lb Weight for Distance
The 28lb weight for distance is identical in design to the 56lb weight for distance, but weighs only 28lbs. The trig area is identical and athletes’ techniques are for the most part very similar to the 56, but the speed of rotation and distances thrown are really something to admire. Considered to be the ‘more civilized’ of the weights for distance, world-class throws are over 80 feet.
The Challenge Caber event will be open to those athletes that were successful in ‘turning’ the competition caber. The same rules and techniques apply to the challenge caber but it is not an official event that will be included in the scoring for the Invitational. This crowd pleasing event is sometimes called the ‘money-caber’ as the athletes compete for a separate purse and bragging rights. This “stick” is bigger than the “official” caber and is again a very tough Nova Scotia red spruce that will not only ‘challenge’ the throwers but will really separate the men from the boys.