Distance Events

Conducting a Distance Event

  • The competitor who threw first in the last event is placed last in the current event and all others moves up one place in the throwing order. This is repeated after each and every event.
    • Some competitions ignore this tradition and do not rotate order.
  • Each competitor will be given an opportunity to throw in the above mentioned order before subsequent rounds of attempts are made.
  • In distance events, each competitor will be allowed three throws.
  • The contestant’s longest LEGAL throw will be the contestant’s mark for that event.
  • The ranked order of each contestant’s longest Legal throw determines the order of finish.


It does not matter what rules are used when it comes to one thing: NEVER-EVER ROUND UP as this rewards a thrower for distance not thrown.  Only NASGA missed this point:

NASGA General Rule #12: Measurements shall be recorded after rounding the measurement down to the nearest 1/4″ in all of the events.

Earlier SAAA rules used to the lowest 1″ but now use lowest 1/4″ .

Scratched throws are usually not measured

If an athlete asks for a measurement of a scratched throw, it is up to the Judge’s discretion to do so.

  • In general, most judges measure scratched throws.
  • Things to consider when deciding to measure a scratch are time of day, event rotation schedule, and the number of flights waiting for the throwing pit.

Measuring Methods

There are several legitimate measuring systems used in Highland Games distance events. All methods measure from the mark left on the ground nearest the trig, which was made by the implement (not the handle) to the back edge of the trig (side facing the throwers box).  The difference between the various measuring systems is the placement of the tape on the trig.

Note: The merits of the various systems are not pertinent to judging.

Plant Foot Measuring

Measurements shall be taken from the point on the inside edge of the trig (the edge facing the throwing box) closest to where the competitor’s plant foot was placed upon the release.

  • Most widely used
  • Plant foot is the foot opposite of the throwing hand.
  • The best position for a Judge to accurately employee this system is directly behind the box as all foot fouls can be observed as well as the plant foot’s relative position along the trig.
    • For the Braemar event, judges often stand to the side opposite of the throwing hand in order to more accurately determine whether an approach was made, which makes placement of the tape a bit harder.
    • An alternative position is the corner of the box , which provides advantages views of the “approach” and plant foot position
  • What happens if the plant foot is outside the throwing box?
    • Measure to the inside corner of the trig closet closest to the plant foot.

Practical advice in the application of the plant foot measuring system:

It’s very easy to mark the plant foot; the judge should be looking at the feet anyway, step into the trig area after the throw and put you foot exactly where the athlete’s foot was in relation to the trig. At that point you can focus elsewhere; point of impact , pulling the tape straight and taut, etc. Look down and measure to the center of your shoe, every time! ”   source: Steve Conway, Athletics Director of the Pleasanton Highland Games; 2/18/08 NASGA POST

Center of Stance Measuring

The measurement is made from a point on the inside edge of the trig closest to the center of the competitor’s stance.

  • Often used in the Hammer Throws.
  • A line perpendicular to the trig running through the center of the throwers belly button is the closet point on the trig no matter which direction the thrower is facing.
  • What happens if the thrower’s center point is beyond the trig?
    • Measure to the inside corner of the trig closet to the center of the throwers body.

Center of the Trig Measuring

The measurement is made from the center of the inside edge of the trig.

  • A simplified measuring system used in distance events that allows judges to concentrate on safety and foot faults.
  • The weakness of this system is that throwers can and often do intentionally throw off to the side artificially increasing the distance of the throw, when compared to plant-foot measuring. Thus, this measuring methodology usually has this additional rule:

Any throw made purposefully to the side to take advantage of this measuring system will be considered unsportsmanlike conduct and may be scratched without warning by the Judge.

  • In Scotland, the use of sectors accompany center of trig measuring to limit the abuse of this measuring system.

Please see Center of Trig Measuring Problems and Solutions for details this measuring system presents.

Marking Stick

  • The judge needs to be aware of how the tape is attached to the marking stick as this will have an effect on the distance measured.  Is it attached to the front, back, or in the middle?
  • The judge needs to inform his assistant (volunteer(s) and/or competitors) of where to line up the stick given how the tape is attached.

Pulling The Tape

The judge needs to pull the tape so that it is straight.  The longer the distance, the harder this may be.  Elevating the tape over the head while pulling it helps eliminate obstructions such as grass, divots, twigs and the like.

Reading The Tape

The distance on the tape measure is to be rounded down to the prior ¼” mark (some games use larger units).

  • Rounding to the nearest unit should NEVER be done as this may reward the competitor for distances not thrown.


Scoring has little to do with judging whether a throw is fair or foul.  However, scoring may have a big impact on running the flight properly when there are ties.

Under some rule sets, ties need to be broken for first place in distance events, and they need to be broken when there are limited number of event meddles.

See Scoring page for rules on how ties are handled

Extra Throws

At the conclusion of the event, the winner may be given three additional attempts to set new records (Personal Records, Field Records, or Sanctioned Records)

  • The competitor may use all, some, or none of these extra attempts.
  • The best legal throw shall be recorded as a new record if the old one has been broken.
  • Throws for record will not be counted as part of the competition.  This point is important in decathlon scoring system.

What happens if a tie occurs for first place?
Borges’ Rule sets do not allow ties for first place and have a throw off to break the tie; a formalized approach.   Most AD’s would allow all those involved in a tie to take their three extra throws.

If a contest awards event meddles, ties will probably need to be broken as the number of meddles are limited.

Measuring Records

When a throw is measured and beats a record, the distance should be confirmed with a steel tape.

  • Some have criticized the use of steel tape measurements as heat effects the accuracy of the measure. However, it seems to be the standard.
    • If no steel tape is available, confirm it with another tape.
    • At the very least, the Athletic Director needs to be called over to confirm the distance.

In the hammer event, the length of the handle should be confirmed as legal after the record breaking throw.

  • This avoids problems if the handle subsequently breaks.
  • This avoids problems for a rattan handle were the head could slip down the handle.
  • If the hammer breaks, the AD should gather all the parts so that the weight can be confirmed after the fact.
  • It pays to weigh and measure all implements before the event.

Additional Topics

Stones Weights Hammers
Braemar  Measure Records  Scoring