How to get started in Scottish Heavy Athletics
(some content from nasgaweb.com)
Check the Heavy Events page for a description of the events that are contested in the games. At most competitions an athlete must compete in all the events, be wearing a kilt, and at some kilt hose are required as well. Amateur competitions are generally 1 day only - some professional competition span 2 days and include 10 events. Start time at most competitions is around 9 am. and depending on the schedule of events and the number of athletes competing a competition generally lasts 6-7 hours. It is common for there to be a break between the hammer and the Caber for lunch or other scheduled activities. Competitors at most competitions are split into classes, if a competition is billed as an "open" then it usually means Amateurs of all subclasses will be competing together. For more information on classes read on.
THE CLASSES OF ATHLETES
The highest level of Scottish Athletics, prize money is awarded according to placing. This class is usually entered by invitation only.
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.
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+.
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.
MOVING FROM AMATEUR TO PROFESSIONAL
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.
FINDING A HEAVY EVENTS COMPETITION
To find a competition near you to compete in, you can one of two things:
- 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.
- Call the Highland Games organization near where you want to compete and contact them. These are the organizations:
MASA - Mid-Atlantic Scottish Athletics
Area covered: Eastern U.S. Mid-Atlantic States, based in Virginia
NASGA - North American Scottish Games Athletics
Area covered: Eastern U.S. and Ontario, Canada, based in Michigan
8149 Henry Ruff
Westland, MI 48185
SAAA - Scottish American Athletic Association
Area covered: Western U.S., based in California
RMSA - Rocky Mountain Scottish Athletic Group
Area covered: Mid-Western U.S., based in Colorado
SSAA - Southeast Scottish Amateur Athletics
Area covered: Southeastern U.S.
PO Box 175
Culloden, GA 31016
TRAINING FOR A HEAVY EVENTS COMPETITION
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:
Mjolnir Hammers Ltd.
PO Box 221
Beverly, WA 99321-0221
Old Celt's Highland Games Athletic Equipment
1071 Deer Run Lane
Crownsville, MD 21032
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:
8149 Henry Ruff
Westland, MI 48185
ENTERING A HEAVY EVENTS COMPETITION
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.