The Heavy events are the heart of any Highland Games and have evolved from the time when ancient Clan Chiefs would organise contests to find the strongest men for bodyguards, the fastest men for couriers and the fittest men for their army. As a sporting event these contests were a way by which rival clans could compete with each other without resorting to the bloodshed of battle. Not all the contests were warlike. Pipers and dancers were also important for entertainment and the best were favoured by the Clan Chief.
At the Lewis Games the competition program consists of:
- The Hammers - These ancient weapons come in various sizes 12, 16 and 22 lb, at the Lewis Games we use the 16 lb hammer. They are tossed similar to the Olympic style, severe rotation imparts momentum to the hammer, then it is released for distance. The differences are mostly to the hammer, that being a heavier head and a wicker/rattan handle. The handle is strong and can flex on impact.
- Weight For Heights - This event is exactly as named, a 56 lb. weight is tossed up and over a horizontal bar. The athlete can only use one hand and the weight can strike the bar as long as it goes over.
- Weight For Distance - This event entails hurling a 28 lb. weight as far as possible while maintaining control behind a trig. The athlete spins to gain momentum on the weight then releases it.
- The 15lb Sheaf - This event derives from the farming traditions of Scotland. It grew out of a competition to see who could toss a sheaf of wheat highest with a standard pitch fork. The sheaf must pass over the horizontal bar and competitors get 3 attempts at a height before they are eliminated. The highest 'toss' wins. In the event of a tie for height, the one with the fewest misses wins.
- Caber - This is the premier Scottish event. The competitor must "pick" a caber, run and toss it so as to land 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 stick hits the ground. A side judge will sometimes be used to determine if the caber rotated thru 90 degrees, if not, its a "Fifer" and not counted. Our Caber 16 ft long.
- 16lb Shott.
- Highland Dancing
In addition to this, in 1996 the Western Isles Strongest Man competition was introduced which consists of:
- Tyre Flip
- Aggregates Stones - A series of stones that have to be lifted onto a platform.
- Overhead weight - Lift of approx 130lbs
- Trailer Load - A trailer filled with various items, bags of sand etc and pulled for speed over a set distance.