Axe Throwing Foot Fault Rules

Axe Throwing Foot Fault Rules

Though it’s a lot of fun when practiced safely and correctly, axe throwing can be dangerous and needs to be regulated just as much as any other sport to ensure that all players are out of harm’s way and playing on a level, fair playing field. Because of this, the regulatory bodies that manage axe throwing, such as the International Axe Throwing Federation, set out comprehensive rules that standardize most aspects of the sport. One such aspect is what constitutes a foot fault; read on to find out everything that the IATF rulebook says on the subject.

Foot Placement for Throws

The IATF rulebook specifically details the permitted foot positioning before, during, and after an axe is thrown. This is to keep players out of the way of the axes as they fly and to make sure no undue interference is made on the axe before it hits the target.


When setting up to throw, players show they’re ready by fully planting one or both of their feet behind the black throwing line. Their lead foot can go anywhere in relation to the line, but their back foot must be completely behind it and making full contact with the floor.


While throwing, a player can make one full step with either foot that passes the black line once. The axe must be released at any point during that step. After the axe has been thrown, neither foot may leave the ground until both players’ axes have either landed or stuck in the target (or, if one player has thrown while the other has yet to step, they can go back behind the black line after distinctly pausing after their throw to show it’s complete).

Throw Line and Safety Line

Axe Throwing Throw Line and Safety Line

In addition to the black throw line, axe throwing courts have a red safety line between the throw line and the target. As with most of the sport’s other rules, this line exists to both ensure safety and promote sportsmanship and has a very detailed set of rules surrounding it and its related penalties.

The foot fault line can’t be crossed until both players have both thrown their axes and paused for a second after releasing. Even if a player is the second player to throw their axe, if they don’t pause before going over the throw line, it’s counted as a foot fault, and they receive the corresponding penalty.

Foot fault penalties increase in severity with each time a player crosses the throw line illegally:

  • On the first fault, the player forfeits the score earned by the throw immediately after which the fault was committed.
  • On the second, the player forfeits the score of the entire round within which the fault was committed.
  • On the third, the player forfeits the entire game. In tournament play, this usually means the player is also excused from the remainder of the event.

Crossing the Throw Line

Even with such specific and intensive penalties in place for crossing the throw line at the wrong time, there are still only a small number of situations in which a player wouldn’t be penalized for stepping over the line. Practically the only situation in which it would be allowed for a player to step over the throw line is to get closer to the target to verify the value of an axe after it’s landed on the target; the line can never be crossed before an axe is thrown. 

Before either player crosses the line, both players must verbally agree that they’re going to do so, effectively pausing play to ensure that no axes can go down-range while a player is standing near the target. If one player throws before the other and wishes to inspect the target to determine its point value, they can cross the line, approach the target, leave the axe and check its value, then return to the throwing area. Only then will the second player make their throw, at which point both players approach the target and remove their axes.

If a player wants to use a measuring device to precisely determine the score value of a thrown axe, they can call to do so, thereby pausing play. The designated third-party measurer will then enter the range and use their measuring device to determine the exact scoring position of the axe. After the measurement is taken, the axe can be removed from the board before the second player takes their throw; this is contrary to the non-measured ruleset but is permitted because the device’s measurement means there’s no need for the axe to remain in the target, as it’s precise position was already recorded.