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Still from video of shot maintenance for shot put athletics event

How to maintain a rusty shot or hammer

Learn 'How to...' clean and maintain a rusty shot to bring new life back into old implements.  This is essential maintenance for shot putters and hammer throwers - increasing the life of your equipment, ensuring they are legal for competition.  Look after your equipment well and you don't have to buy a new one!

See below for a written guide.

How to maintain a shot (or hammer)

Tools for the job:
  • an old shot (Our demonstration discus was provided by our friends at Plymouth Athletics Club, so our thanks to them)
  • rough grade sandpaper
  • a large cardboard box
  • a circular rest, e.g. the inside of a roll of sticky tape. If you have a soft foam ring, that is best.
  • light machine oil and a dry cloth or paper towel


  • spray paint which can be applied without primer
Steps to maintain your shot or hammer:
  • If you are working on a hammer, remove the wire and swivel (see our other ‘How to…’ videos for instructions).
  • Sand the shot with rough grade sandpaper. This is easiest if you put the sandpaper in a large cardboard box on the floor.  Then press the shot down and push it up and down the sandpaper.  This is the easiest way to apply sufficient pressure to remove the rust, dirt and any old paint.  There will probably be slight roughness on the surface which will be impossible to clean fully.  This is ok, as long as most of the surface is clean and shiny.
  • Once the surface is clean, wipe the shot well to remove any residue. If a dry cloth is not sufficient, use a damp cloth.  If you use a damp cloth, leave the shot to air-dry fully before the next steps.
  • Decide how you will finish the surface.


  • This is best for shot which have not previously been painted. Apply a small amount of light machine oil to a clean dry cloth and apply to the surface of the shot.  Work the oil in well and leave the shot to rest overnight before using to ensure the surface is not oily. 


  • This is best for shot which have previously been painted. Stand the cardboard box on its side (ensure it is free from dust) in a well ventilated area which does not matter if it gets dirty (preferably outside or in a garage, etc).  Do not do in a house.
  • Stand the ring in the centre of the box and place the shot on it.
  • Read and follow the instructions on your paint can and shake the can as instructed. Following the instructions, spray a light coat of paint over the shot, reaching as far around the shot as easily possible.  Leave to dry (usually overnight)
  • Once the paint is fully dry, turn the shot so that an unpainted surface is facing and spray with a further coat of paint.
  • Repeat steps 7 and 8 until the surface of the shot is evenly coated with paint, leaving to dry completely between coats. This process will take a number of days.

Your shot is now clean, maintained and ready to be re-used.

Note:  to reduce the need for heavy-duty sanding and maintenance of shot and hammers, wipe all mud off the implement after every use.  Apply a light coat of light machine oil periodically, particularly after use in wet conditions.  Always allow oil to soak in before use.

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