How To: Toss a Caber


After having watched “Made of Honor” recently (there was absolutely nothing else on I promise), it was quite entertaining to watch Patrick Dempsey, McDreamy/McSteamy/McDrippy (I forget), from Grey’s Anatomy, feebly attempt to “toss a caber”; which resulted in a lot of groaning, staggering, knee buckling and a flattened car roof. I am convinced though, that Michelle Monaghan, given the chance, would have tossed that ffff….flimsy caber right into the stratosphere – my what a woman.

But just how hard can it be tossing a 20 foot pole, weighing in at a feathery 50kg’s? Apparently it’s quite tricky.

Cabers have been thrown across fields by hairy brutes for centuries, often in warfare, when large logs were tossed into enemy battlements, or as a practical solution to logistical problems-logs were often chucked across rivers as makt;lshift bridges. Only in more recent times have cabers been tossed by men in skirts for the sheer unadulterated fun of it all.

Measure up

The professionals typically toss a 20-foot-Iong caber weighing between 80 and 135 pounds-which is almost certainly out of your league. Unless you want to hurt yourself, use a scaled-down versionn which is shorter and lighter, and therefore easier to control. First though, consider the following …

Distance is irrelevant

Caber tossing is judged on technique and landing. To score high you’ll need the caber to turn 180 degrees (end over end) in the air, land on what startted out as the top end and fall directly away from you at what the professionals call the 12 o’clock position. In competition, 12:00 rules, but 11:00 scores higher than 9:00, just as 1:00 is better than 3:00. If the caber lands on its end and falls back toward you, run for cover and expect to be marked down accordingly-forward falls always score highher than those that drop backwards. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because first you’ll need to master the technique.

The Technique

Assume the correct manly posture: heels together, toes out, the narrow end of the caber lying flat on the ground between your feet and facing away from you, mild fear etched across your face. The far end of the caber will be lifted off the floor and walked up towards you and into an upright position, so that it’s now staring you straight in the face. At this point, it’s probably too late to back out.

Step 1. Seasoned professionals will have coated their hands in tacky, a resin-and-turpentine mix that feels like molasses and keeps their mitts securely on the caber. Without tacky, your fingers will almost certainly be driven apart and the caber will fall on your foot.

Step 2. so, lock your sticky fingers together, bend at the knees and grip the caber. Get as much of your palms as possible around its base, dig both hands in firmly and stand up. Do it slowly and use your leg muscles rather than your arms to lift. The caber should come up easily enough, but then it gets tricky.

Step 3. The caber is now vertical and resting against your stronger shoulder, but half the battle is steadying the thing. You can expect to spend several minutes staggering around like a drunkard before you have it under full control, and only then are you finally ready to launch it.

Step 4. The technique can vary. Some people take a long run up, others just a few steps-do whatever feels most comfortable to you. With either approach, as you move forward, try to run the final few steps to gain momentum. As you approach the line, push the caber forward with your shoulder until it reaches a suitable launching angle (at least 45 degrees, at most 75), then drive your hands and arms forwards and upwards to create as much thrust as possible.

Now, stand back and watch it arc off into the disstance, or run for cover and scream like a child as it drops back toward your head.

Tossers beware!

To attempt this skill, seasoned tossers warn that you’ll need to be in ‘good physical shape,’ otherwise you’re likely to pull or otherwise mangle something painful. Consult a gym instructor or trainer for a deffinition of ‘good physical shape,’ and mention to him that you’ll need to work on your leg strength as that’s where much of your tossing power will come from.

© Man Skills
Photo: bvrdc

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