Axe Throwing Gameplay Rules

Axe Throwing Gameplay Rules

Axe throwing involves flinging a hatchet (or sometimes a big axe) at a target in an attempt to stick the axe and score points depending on where the axe is stuck on the target. Players alternate throwing axes, and each gets ten throws per match. After the match is over, the player with the most points wins the game. Find a complete guide to axe throwing gameplay rules below.

Axe Throw Gameplay Rules

Opponents get ten throws each, alternating who goes after each throw. After five throws, players must switch sides to not give one an unfair advantage over the other. Once the ten rounds are completed (one round consists of both players making a single throw), the player with the most points wins the match. If the players are tied after ten rounds, they must compete for victory in a sudden death round.

Match Rules

The WATL (World Axe Throwing League) allows players to compete in matches four times a week at most. Players are assigned opponents and targets through the WATL app. Once two players have paired up and are at their assigned target, they may begin the match with the guidance of a nearby official.

Throwing Rules

Athletes are allowed to throw axes in one of three ways:

  • Overhand with one hand, with the axe’s head facing towards the target.
  • Underhand with one hand, with the axe’s head facing towards the target.
  • Held in both hands, with the axe’s head facing towards the target.

Release Rules

After the players begin to make their throws, they must keep a few things in mind to make their throw count. First, axes are allowed only one rotation while in the air. If it rotates more or less than this, their throw will not count. A rotation is defined in the rulebook as “the number of times that the blade faces the thrower after release.” Additionally, throwers must have at least one foot on the ground when making their throw.

Foot Faults

Foot faults are another source of error that can nullify an athlete’s throw. Foot faults occur due to either of the following conditions:

  • A player’s foot crosses the red 12 ft fault line.
  • A player’s body part touches any part of the room that lies beyond the 12 ft fault line.

Judges are allowed to overturn a foot fault at their own discretion. This could occur if a player steps over the line due to something not within their control, such as if a person bumped into them, causing them to step over the line.

Timing Rules

After a player’s opponent completes a throw, that player is free to make their own throw so long as everybody is behind the fault line and the judge has not stopped the gameplay. Players only have ten seconds to throw their axe after the previous player threw theirs. Judges keep track of the time with a stopwatch and must declare that they are using a device to record the time. A player’s ten seconds lasts from when their opponent’s axe leaves their hand to when that player’s axe leaves their own hand.

Axe Throwing Judges

Players may request a judge to begin timing their opponent if they forgot to do so. Judges have the final say. It is up to their discretion to determine if a player’s delay of game should be deemed a fault. If the judge feels that the player had an ample amount of time to make the throw with no distractions, they are free to consider the failure to make the throw a fault, resulting in that player receiving zero points.


All official axe throwing gameplay that occurs is tracked through the WATL app. Players must upload their scores to the app in real time. Additionally, faults must be recorded in the app. If the app is not working or a player has a bad connection, they may record their scores and upload them within 48 hours.

Safety and Procedural Rules

Before starting a game, players must understand and agree to adhere to basic safety precautions and procedural concerns. We list some of these rules below.

Axe Inspection

An official is at liberty to inspect an axe at any time. Any axes that are not regulation or are broken and cause safety concerns may not be used.

Axe Handles

Players are required to hold an axe by its handle alone, never by its sharp edge. Any player wishing to replace an axe they are using must notify an official before doing so. The official gives him one minute to make the necessary changes.


If an athlete gets injured, they are allowed to receive on-site medical treatment. If they are well enough to keep playing, they may do so. Matches missed due to injury can be made up on the next axe throwing league night.

Throwing Lane Safety

Axes cannot be thrown while anybody is in the lane. Throwing an axe and putting somebody in harm's way results in immediate disqualification. Spectators must remain five feet away from throwers.