Arnold Sports Festival 2020: Jeffrey Duer Scottish Highland Games

Jeffrey Duer (Shear toss), Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020
Jeffrey Duer (Shear toss), Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020

Tell me what you did and how you got into it.

This is the indoor Highland games at the Arnold Classic. I got into it about six years ago. I was looking for something to do to get me in shape and keep me going to the gym. Instead of just working out to get me to shoot for a goal, I went to a Highland Games novice class.  That taught me how to throw. About five or six years later, here we are. I just won the Arnold Masters class.

Tell me about the different events that you just did.

We typically have nine events, but since we are indoors, we had five events. We don’t do the hammers which, is like the Olympic hammers, weight and a different stone. We start with an eighteen-pound shot put. Then we do a weight for distance. It’s a 42-pound weight thrown one handed with a spin. Then, we throw the caber which looks like a telephone poll. Today was different because we are indoors, so we are throwing metal polls. Then, we do the sheaf. It is a 28-pound burlap bag filled with twine thrown off a pitchfork up and over a bar. Today, I set the indoor world record for that (25 feet with a 28-pound sheaf).

Congratulations!

It felt good. Typically, we throw a 15 or 20 pound sheaf. This is the only place we throw a 28-pound weight. I knew it would be heavier here, so I build one myself to practice. It is a completely different feeling coming off the pitchfork. I knew I was going to be comfortable about 22 or 23 feet. Being live, I could always add another foot or so based on the adrenaline rush. I ended up hitting 25 feet for the world record today.

(Weight over bar), Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020
(Weight over bar), Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020

We have a blast throwing together. We call it friendly competitive. My goal is to beat everyone out here, but I also love all the guys we throw with. We are competitive but friendly, we cheer each other on as we throw. I want to beat people on their best day. I don’t want them to get hurt or have a bad day. I want them to compete at their best, and still beat them. We are all friends as we walk away. It is a blast! It is a fun sport. All the events are so different.

Can you eat whatever you want?

There is no weight limit. Forty and over is the master’s class. They have A, B, and C classes under that. They have a lightweight class which is 200 lbs. This is my kind of sport where 200 pounds is considered lightweight. Above that weight is everybody else.  Drinking and eating is encouraged while you are at the Highland Games. We talked to some Olympic lifters who asked about the sport. We told them the sport is great. About halfway through the day everyone starts drinking and loosening up. The Olympic lifters were saying drinking would destroy them on lifting. Advice: come to the Highland games. It is a different ball game.

How do you train for the Highland Games?

It is a mixture of everything. I compete seven or eight times a year. I try to lift weights two or three times a week. In the winter, I don’t do a lot of throwing. When it is nice outside, I try to get out and throw once or twice a week. You make the implements or buy them from someone who builds them. For most people that are just getting into the Highland Games, just show up at an event. Do it. Get around people who have done it before. They will coach you through it. We are competing but we sit and coach our competitors. That is how friendly the competition is. Go try it. Just do it. You will fall in love. It is an addicting sport.

Anything else?

Everyone wears kilts. Some people have family lineages with the kilts. I wear a Marine Corps. kilt because I was in the Marines. You can tell different groups by the kilts they wear.

It starts from the novice class to pro class. We have every experience level. It is an awesome sport. It is a fun environment.

Here are examples of the other events:

Shot put, Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020
Shot put, Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020
Caber throw, Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020
Caber throw, Scottish Highland Games at the Arnold Sports Festival 2020

My take: I was drawn to this event not only because I found the throws visually appealing but also because the group appeared to be laid back and encouraging of all who competed. I want to see the remaining events that I missed this year.