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The Caber Toss

In general, the Caber is a tree that has been cut and trimmed down so one end is slightly wider than the other. It can vary length from 16 to 22 feet and between 100 and 180 pounds. The smaller end is rounded off so it will be easy to cup in the thrower’s hands. The caber is stood up for the thrower with the large end up. The thrower hoists the caber up and cups the small end in his hands. He then takes a short run with the caber and then stops and pulls the caber so that the large end hits the ground and the small end flips over and faces away from the thrower. The caber is scored for accuracy as though the thrower is facing the 12:00 position on a clock face. A judge behind the thrower calls how close to the 12:00 position the small end of the caber lands, 12:00 being a perfect toss. If the caber is not turned, a side judge calls the degrees of the angle the caber makes with the ground.

The origin of this most traditional of Scottish athletic events is somewhat obscure, even though records of its existence date back to the 16th century. This event may well have begun as a military discipline developed to breach fortifications and barriers, or possibly it was an impromptu way to span swift mountain streams. However, the modern Caber toss has a more peaceful purpose. It measures strength, accuracy and balance.

In the amateur events, the caber is 17 feet long and weighs 90 pounds. In professional events, the caber is 23 feet long and weighs 135 lbs.

The object of the contest is to toss the pole end-over-end so that it lands with the small end pointing directly away from the contestant. The athlete with the straightest toss wins. Distance has no bearing on the outcome of the event. Three tosses are allowed and all are scored to judge the winner.

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