Scottish Heavy Events

Scottish Heavy Events

The Scottish Heavy Events are composed of eight separate events that test both strength and power. Events include the Sheaf Toss, Caber Toss, Stone Put, Hammer Throw, Light Weight Throw, Heavy Weight Throw, Weight for Height, and Weight for Distance.

Important Information

Saturday, July 13th, The Antigonish Highland Games will host the Men’s North American Challenge

On Sunday, July 14th, the competition will host the Women’s North American Challenge, as well as Maritime athletes in all categories, including Juniors.

2024 Competitor Bios

alex mcara - British Columbia

Age: 26

Hometown: Victoria, BC

Occupation: Heavy Equipment Technician 

Height & Weight: 6’ 2”, 315lbs

Tartan: MacGregor

Years Throwing: 8 years


2017 Canadian Jr National Champ

2x Canadian Jr Record holder

2022 3rd CSAF Nationals

2023 2nd CSAF Nationals 2023

10th at Highland Games World Championship

Derek Smith - Nova Scotia

Age: 24

Hometown: Middleton, NS

Occupation: Nurse

Height & Weight: 5’8”, 225lbs


2017 Nova Scotia Powerlifting Sub Junior Provincial Champion

2017 Eastern Canadian Powerlifting Sub Junior Champion

2018 Canadian Powerlifting Union Sub Junior National Champion

2018 International Powerlifting Federation Sub Junior World Champion

Multiple year #1 ranked Canadian Junior Highland Games thrower

Maritime Highland Games Junior Champion

2023 IHGF Canadian Amateur Champion

2024 representative for Canada at the IHGF World Amateur Championships in Norway

Drew Garvie - Nova Scotia

Age: 30

Home town: Truro, Nova Scotia

Competing: 11 Years
Height & Weight: 6’2”, 285lbs

Tartan: Heritage of Scotland


Braemar: 32’10” 22.4lbs.

Open Stone: 40’5″ 17lbs.

Light Hammer: 120’2″

Heavy Hammer: 99’4″

Light Weight for Distance: 67’7″

Heavy Weight for Distance: 34’1″

Weight over bar: 15′

emily adams - USA

Age: 39

Occupation: Production Engineer

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Nickname: Sunshine

Years competing: 9


2023 & 2024 Victoria HG Champion

World record holder in 12# & 16# sheaf toss

USATF Masters American record holder in 20# & 35# weight throw

USATF Masters 2024 National Champion

Favorite events: Heavy Weight for Distance, Caber & Sheaf toss

Luke Crowley - usa

Age: 38

Occupation: Corrections Officer

Hometown: West Salem, Wisconsin

Height & Weight: 6’2”, 290lbs

Years in Highland Games: 17

Favourite Event: Heavy Weight for Distance

damien fisher - USA

Age: 33

Occupation: Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Assistant T&F Coach

Hometown: Ferndale, WA

Height & Weight: 6’7″, 290

Years in Highland Games: 11


2021 & 2023 US National Champion

2022 US National Runner-up

2nd at 2023 World Championship

3rd at 2022 World Championship


Braemar Stone: 41’8″

Open Stone: 54’11.5″

Heavy Weight for Distance: 44’4″

Light Weight for Distance: 85’11”

Heavy Hammer: 119’2″

Light Hammer: 151’4.5″

Weight over Bar: 17′

Sheaf Toss: 32′


Matthew Doherty - Nova Scotia

Antigonish Natives will be well familiar with Matt, and at his current pace it won’t be long before he’s known far and wide. Matt is the 2022 World Lightweight Champion, and over the years he has set and reset multiple records in the process. Matt is the current world record holder in the hammer throw, and he has 8 Canadian records to his name.

Elissa Van Vleck - USA

Age: 34

Occupation: Teacher

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Height & weight: 5’11”, 190

Tartan: Stewart

Years competing: 9 years


Women’s World Champion – 2016

National Champion – 2018

North American Champion – 2018

Numerous world records in Sheaf toss, Light Weight for Distance, and Weight over Bar


susan lajoie - nova scotia

Age: 32

Occupation: Fitness Coordinator

Hometown: Middleton, NS

Height & weight : 5’9″, 160

Currently Living: Wainwright, Alberta

Tartan: Nova Scotia

Years competing: 15


3x Canadian Champ

3x World Championship Competitor

Holds Canadian records in Heavy Weight for Distance and Heavy Hammer.


Braemar: 28’8″

Open Stone: 40’11.5″

Light Weight for Distance: 73’10”

Heavy Weight for Distance: 43’6″

Light Hammer: 103’2.5″

Heavy Hammer: 86’7.5″

Weight over Bar: 16’4″

The Events

The Sheaf Toss

The sheaf toss has been a traditional event in the highland games for many years. Competitors hurl a 16-pound (7 kg) burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar above their head. Each competitor has three chances are given to go over the bar, without touching it.  After all challengers have made their attempts, the bar is raised with successful competitors moving on to the next height until all, but one athlete is eliminated.

Caber Toss

The caber toss is a traditional Antigonish Highland Games Heavy Event. Competitors toss a large tapered pole called a “caber”, usually a Larch (juniper) tree approximately 19 feet 6 inches (5.94 m) tall and weighs 175 pounds (79 kg). “Caber” derives from the Gaelic caber, referring to a wooden beam.

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The competitor who tosses the caber closest to 12 o’clock is the victor. The caber goes end over end, straight ahead or “12 o’clock” the tosser. Distance thrown is unimportant.

The origin of this sport is said to have come from the need to ford a stream where a log was tossed across the water.

Many times, an invading army or scurrying marauders found the need to proceed or escape over a waterway. The Marquis of Montrose wished he could have had a few good caber tossers in his last battle. It quite possibly would not have been his last battle.

Stone Put

The stone put is one of the main heavy events at modern gatherings. An ordinary farmer’s field stone of varying weight, usually 16 to 26 pounds depending on whether the event is using Braemar or Open stone.

Hammer Throw

The hammer throw features a “hammer” which is a metal ball attached by a steel wire to a grip. The hammer size or weight is 16 pounds, measuring 3 feet 11 3⁄4 inches or 121.3 cm in length. Competitors throwing motion usually sees two swings of the hammer to get it started from a stationary position, then the athlete rotates their body three, possibly four times rocking on a heel-toe movement of the foot. The hammer gradually increases in velocity with the thrower releasing the hammer from the front of the circle using their judgement of speed to achieve the greatest distance.

Weight Throwing

In Scottish styled games, there are two separate weight throw events, the light and the heavy weight. In either event the weight is attached by a short chain to a metal handle. The light weight is 28 pounds, or two stone (12.7 kg). The heavy weight is 56 lb, or four stone (25.4 kg). The technique sees an athlete throw the weight one-handed from inside a rectangular area usually 4.5 feet by 9 feet from behind a fixed positioned toe board.

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The athlete must stay behind the board to have their throw count. While athletes may vary their technique it usually involves a turning motion for momentum then the excruciating “grunt” before the power release. Each athlete is permitted three attempts. Distance places determined by the best throw.

The weight for height will have a competitor throw a one-handed weight over a bar set at increasing heights above the thrower. The athlete is permitted three attempts for each successive height. Places are determined by maximum height reached with the fewest misses.

The size of the weight is usually a 56 pound or 25 kg weight. The technique developed by athletes to develop speed for height involves a swing of the weight between the legs then the swift uplift with momentum before pulling the weight up and directly overhead and over the bar.


The Tug-of-war competition was reintroduced to the Antigonish Highland Games in 2005 and has rapidly become one of the most highly spectated and thrilling events. Traditionally, this event has been showcased at Maritime Agricultural Exhibitions. Teams are assembled in the fall to compete after planting and before harvest. With the Games in early July, it is a challenge to land sufficient competitive teams. Each year we start early, promote our competition and offer an exciting stage to host competitors.