Axe Throwing Scoring Rules

Axe Throwing Scoring Rules

Scoring in axe throwing is fairly simple. However, the two chief governing bodies of the sport, the World Axe Throwing League and the International Axe Throwing Federation, use slightly different scoring systems, which reflect how they use different targets. Read on to learn the scoring rules for each governing body.

World Axe Throwing League Scoring

Axe Throwing Scoring

The scoring rules for the World Axe Throwing League (WATL) are codified in Section D of their official rulebook. The World Axe Throwing League (WATL) uses a target with five main zones and one extra: the two “Killshot” dots in the top corners of the 1-point ring. 

In an axe throwing match, the two competitors have ten throws to rack up more points than their opponent. Each throw is scored based on where the majority of the axe blade rests in the wood. If the axe hits the bullseye but falls out before the referee scores it, then it is worth zero points.

The scoring area of the axe includes all of the head up to the front of the eye. Anything past where the wooden handle begins is not counted in the scoring. Scores are measured through the surface broken by the axe head. The toe or heel of the axe might sneak across the boundaries of one of the rings, but if the markings on the surface aren’t broken, the thrower won’t get any extra points. There’s no bonus for how deep the axe gets embedded as long as it stays there.

A regular axe throw can score anywhere from one to six, the score increasing by one for each inner ring the axe lands in. A bullseye is the most inner circle and is worth six points. However, a bullseye isn’t the highest possible score for a throw; each contestant also gets two chances at Killshots. They must declare they’re attempting a Killshot and then aim at one of the two dots in the top corners of the outermost ring. 

If the axe misses the Killshot target, the contestant gets zero points no matter where it lands (including if the axe breaks the Killshot target on the opposite side). If the person does hit the tiny dot, they get eight points. 


If the score is tied after ten throws, the round will be decided in a Sudden Death format with only Killshots. 

International Axe Throwing Federation Scoring

International Axe Throwing Federation Scoring

Per section 1.3 of their rulebook, the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) uses a simpler target than the WATL with fewer divisions. As such, any throw that scores higher than zero will be worth either one, three, five, or seven points.

The IATF rules specify not just how throws are scored but who is responsible for keeping the score. Section 1.2.2 states that players must accurately give their own scores to the scorekeeper, as well as their opponent. There’s no incentive for the opponent to argue unfairly about where the axe broke the wood since a disagreement between players gets a third-party measurement involved. This slows down the pace of play.

Each match is a best-of-three, with five throws per round. The bullseye is worth five points, the middle ring three, and the outermost ring one. Like in the WATL, scoring is determined by where the majority of the axe blade lands, measured on the surface of the target. In the IATF rulebook, this is referred to as the “Majority Rule.” 

The IATF’s equivalent to the WATL’s “Killshot” is called the “clutch.” Like the Killshot, the intent to throw for a clutch must be stated by the thrower beforehand. The clutch target breaking will yield seven points: one fewer than the Killshot but still two more points than the corresponding bullseye. The most important difference between the WATL’s Killshot and IATF’s clutch isn’t the relative point value but when they can be declared. In the IATF, the player can only declare a clutch attempt on the fifth and final throw of a round. 


The sudden death tiebreakers work differently in the IATF than in the WATL. The “Big Axe Tiebreakers,” as specified in section 1.3.7, will always start with both opponents shooting for the bullseye. A player can only call for a clutch if they’ve hit a bullseye in the tiebreaker round. Big Axe Tiebreaker scores are kept separately from the tied scores in the main round, similar to penalty kicks in soccer, and don’t influence final scores beyond this.

The tiebreaker rules are also important when it comes to Champions Points given out over the course of a season. According to Section 5.1 of the rulebook, the player who places the highest at the end of regulation after seven weeks will receive 16 Champions Points, the values decreasing by one until it gets down to 16th place, which is awarded one point. A player’s total score across all matches is used to break ties in Championship Points, so the Big Axe Tiebreaker rules are important to keeping the system fair.

Axe Throwing Scoring Rules Summary

  • Both the WATL and IATF scores are based on where the majority of the axe blade lands.
  • The WATL’s bullseye is worth six points, while the IATF’s bullseye only nets five.
  • The WATL’s higher number of main zones means that each throw’s point value can vary more than in the IATF, where most throws can only be worth one, three, or five points.
  • The WATL’s Killshot is worth eight points if it connects, one more than the IATF’s seven.
  • Neither format’s tiebreakers are counted in the final round scores, but scores are tracked in the IATF’s “Big Axe Tiebreakers” and not the WATL’s Killshot shootout.
  • Championship Points are given out in the IATF at the end of regulation season and are used to break ties.