Scoring the Masters: Big Shot

How do you score the throwing if someone uses a Big Shot (or similar tool) in the Masters?
For me there should be no points for the height, and none for 1st, 2nd etc. throw as well.
The optional points (up to 3) still can be gained by using tricks for isolation etc., or skill & style.

Does someone know how thats decides for ITCC, or does every judge do as he wants to and no one talks about it? As long as its consistent that would be no problem either, right?

Thanks & Greetings from Austria,


Super Moderator
Staff member
Since you obviously know the Masters Score Sheet, I’m not sure that I really understand your question.

I’ve scored 10 Masters at the Chapter level.
There is no difference for scoring the Height or Number of throws, versus hand-thrown.
Discretionary points are subjectively up to the individual judge.

Since the Big Shot & other tools are allowed, I have always been perplexed as to why some competitors don’t use all the tools allowed with a particularly tall or difficult tree.

Greetings from Ohio,
and Ciao for Now !

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
When I judge any event I look at the best solution given current tools and best practices. Then I look at how a climber uses the gear they have at hand.

Would you score any differently if a climber used three strand rope? Not me.

Competition is supposed to be the place to excell. The acceptance of innovation has puzzled me for years. Someone can show up with a really cool throwline and bag but any credibility is lost if they were climbing on a tautline. HUH?!

Solve the problem any way...within the rules...possible.
Thanks, you guys did get me right.
For me throw(line)ing is definitly a major skill for a tree climber,
and much more skillful than using a Big Shot (ot APTA etc.).
That should be rewarded when it comes to scoring IMO.

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
If I're saying that by just using a big shot etc you would deduct points? How is that fair? It takes skill to use any tool or skill. In the end it's about getting the job done well

Carpenters have the same discussion about nail swatting or shooting nails. Is a finish carpenter any more or less skilled if they use a router and power miter box vrs a set of planes and a miter box?
Its a Tree Climbing Competition, not an Arborism Comp, so its not about getting the job done but about specific techniques for Tree Climbing right?
Throwlining, for me, is such a thing. Why dont we use Big Shots at the Throwline Event if its just about getting the bag up there?

Would you allow cranes & platforms in a Masters? :)

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
In MC's that I've judged there has been handthrows that were deflected away by twigs because their wasn't enough power in the throw. In most cases the same shot would go if a BS were used because of more energy at the high point of the arc. Would it be fair to take away points or not give bonus points from the hand thrower?

That's how I look at it
Tom, not to disagree with anything else you've said here, but I don't think the Big Shot will make a difference in the kinetic energy at the high point of the arc. The vertical velocity will necessarily be zero at that point. The horizontal component of velocity could be higher or lower depending on the angle of release and wind or air resistance.

I seldom use a Big Shot unless the tie in point is above 70 feet. We keep the Big Shots stored in a case and it takes time to assemble and disassemble, so I think this could be considered a drawback to using one when it's not necessary.

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
I know...not at the top...but along the way...lower in the trajectory...a BS shot has a better chance of not ricocheting than a hand toss.


Well-Known Member
Or maybe a higher chance of ricocheting wildly if it hits the trunk or a branch. Sometimes you can finesse a hand tossed ricochet into the desired crotch


Well-Known Member
Big shot provides no advantage under 80 feet that I can see. The APTA as well is more trouble than its worth on east coast trees. But it should not be discouraged. I think innovative ways of setting line should be promoted. Maybe someone will come up with a way that's even more awesome. I can't wait to see lines set by drones.


Well-Known Member
Big shot can miss too, if you're not good with it. Sounds like you're dismissing Bigshot users as not quite good enough, maybe even not worthy. I must say I take a small amount of offense to that - I use a Bigshot regularly at work and at comps. I also hand toss regularly and I'm good both ways, I also miss both ways. Throwline is a fickle master and I think the scoresheet is good, what if a person uses the BS and misses? then it goes to 2nd throw, miss the ten but isolate a seven? 7 points, just like the scoresheet says.

I don't think the Bigshot was allowed as a cheater so the short kids could play too, but rather to demonstrate skill in the use of all available tools, remember it's the Master's Challenge, not the wannabe's challenge.
No offense meant, I am using a Big Shot too, especially in high, vertical throw-situations. I do it because its easier with the BS, something no climber I know would disagree with. So I think hand-throwing is more difficult and therefore worth more points.
These systems must be operated by the climber quite the same way, and one is not really easier to operate than the other (IMO the SJ may be a little trickier to handle...).
These "tools" have the same function.
But if someone would use a motorized ascender f.e. I;d give him lower points maybe, yes.

Throwing by hand is not using/needing a tool at all, for me thats quite a difference to your example.
It looks like am the only one here with this view, can it be?
What do other judges and competitors think?
Did you know that (a lot of/most) judges score like that?


Well-Known Member
Sorry, I am neither a judge or competitor, just an interested observer. My example was meant to point out that old ways change as new and better ways develop.
Throw line skills were developed out of need to get a line high in the tree. There simply was no other more practical way. Now there is. I have seen a lot of change within tree indusrty and there are always those who embrace it and those who resist it. If you look around you will see that almost nothing is as it once was. Life is change and there is no right or wrong to it, just the way it is.
You also stated your belief that it is a tree climbing competion not an arboricultural competition. I don't see how you can completely separate the two when so much of what is being judged is directly geared towards tasks that are core traits of the tree industry. It is not tree climbing for fun (that would be rec climbing) but for a specific purpose.

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
How about going totally retro?

How would a climber score who can monkey fist a rope into the tree?

What about a climber who used the original yellow polypropelene 'slickline' and a Johnnyball? It took a LOT of skill to set a line with those antiquated tools.

If the tool is being scored rather than the climb I think that this is wrong.
If the tool is being scored rather than the climb I think that this is wrong.
Thanks Tom, thats what I am talking about as well. Please think about it for a second.

For me its so obvious that at least the points for the height of the throw cant be the same for a Big Shot and a hand throw. It wouldn't make any sense, everybody can shoot high with a BS!?
And again, why isnt the BS used in the Throwline -Event?
Because hand throwing is a different and somewhat "higher" skill than "big-shooting".
And again I am not against the BS at all, or want to discredit the ones who use.
That would be really stupid, especially as I am not the best in hand throwing as well... ;)
Its about how the competition is meant, or the rules and scoring that someone came up with.
I think the score for throwing would (and should) be different if its the same for Hand vs. BS. Who wrote that part, does anybody here know? Maybe its from a time where the BS wasnt on the market yet (although I dont believe so)?

DSMc: I am really a promoter of innovation in gear and technique, thats not the point.
And you are right, you cannot completely separate the work from the climbing, but there are big differences in competition climbing for sure.
Belayed Speed Climbing?!
The rescue theater?
Come on ;)