What is Axe Throwing?

axe throwing

Historically, axe throwing was an event in lumberjack competitions. As of recently, axe throwing has gained serious momentum as a sport around the world. The gameplay is similar to darts, with contestants aiming at the bullseye and throwing an axe at a wooden target. It can be played recreationally at a bar or competitively in a league or competition.


Although loggers and lumberjacks have been practicing their trade since the early 1800’s, the sport of axe throwing grew dramatically in the mid 1900’s as more people grew interested in lumberjack competitions. In 2006, the first axe throwing league was formed in Toronto. A spectator named Matt Wilson is credited for helping the sport grow into what it is today.

Playing Surface

Axe Throwing Playing Surface

Axe throwing bars and leagues must follow several essential rules and protocols to ensure the safety of everyone involved. The participant must be throwing on a sturdy, slip resistant surface. The “foul line” is where the axe is thrown and is typically 10 to 12 feet away from the wooden target. The material of the wood target varies depending on level of play and location. Common target materials consist of cottonwood, pinewood, palmwood, and spruce.

Axe Throwing Equipment

Axe Throwing Equipment

A wide range of axes can be used for throwing, such as tomahawks, hatchets, splitting axes, and double bit axes. Due to how light tomahawks are, they create an unpredictable bounce trajectory once they hit the target. Hatchets, also known as scouts, are the most commonly used axes in recreational axe throwing. Splitting and double bit axes are heavy and typically have a thicker blade. Both are commonly used to chop firewood. There should always be protective net boundaries to ensure maximum safety. Lastly, you need a wood target with a bullseye and multiple outer-laying circles. The farther outside the bullseye circle you hit, the less points your throw is worth.

Here is the essential Axe Throwing equipment you should have:

  • Axe
  • Protective Net or Boundary 
  • Wood Target


axe throwing throwing

There are two main ways to throw an axe. The first is over the shoulder with your dominant hand. This technique is the most common and is very similar to throwing a baseball or football. The second is two-handed over the head. This technique may bring more power and is similar to throwing a soccer ball. 

Objectives and Gameplay

Axe Throwing Gameplay

There are multiple games that can be played during competitions, such as standard play, around the world, and horse. Standard play, which is used in the World Axe Throwing League, has a set total of points that must be reached. Around the world involves hitting every point location on the board. Lastly, horse involves the second player hitting the same target that the first player chose to hit. If you can’t mimic the first throwers toss, you gain the letter “H” and go all the way to “E” (The last letter in Horse).

Rules and Regulations

Axe Throwing Rules and Regulations

As stated above, each game comes with its own unique set of gameplay rules. One of the golden rules of all axe throwing is to never throw when a participant or judge is in the lane as serious injury may occur. All axes must be inspected by the recreational axe venue or official. As for what qualifies as a point, the axe head, blade and cheek up to the front of the eye allows a point to occur.

Here are the most important Axe Throwing rules you should know:

  • A participant cannot throw an axe if any person is in front of their path
  • All axes must pass an inspection
  • Only from the axe head to the front eye of the axe qualifies as a point


Like all sports, technique and throwing mechanics matter. It is important to find a spot past the required distance (10 to 12 feet) that you feel comfortable with. It is equally important to find a comfortable and secure position on the axe for your hand. Placing your hand higher up on the axe will cause rotation problems. An important tip that all axe throwers should know is that you want the axe to complete one revolution and hit the board at a 45 degree angle. Lastly, you want to keep your wrist and elbow locked. Axe throwers want to release the axe at the target when the arm is parallel with the floor.

Here are the most important Axe Throwing strategies you should know:

  • Find the right starting position for yourself
  • Place the axe in a comfortable, secure position with your dominant hand
  • Release the axe when your arm is parallel to the floor


Axe Throwing Lingo

Because axe throwing is similar to darts, you may hear mutual terms. One of the most common phrases in axe throwing is “Bullseye”. Other phrases such as “Badaxe” and “Blueballs” are also commonly heard.

Here is the common lingo and slang in Axe Throwing:

  • Bullseye: The absolute middle of the target
  • Badaxe: An adjective used to describe an axe thrower with positive connotation
  • Blueballs: The two blue circles located towards the top of the target that are worth 10 points


Axe Throwing Players

In 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Axe Throwing League was able to have its championship where winners were crowned. Ryan Smit won the Hatchet division, Zach Crawford won the Big Axe division, and Hayden Brown and Lucas Johnson won the Duals division. With professional axe throwing being a fairly new sport, there aren’t too many established famous players.


Axe throwing is a new recreational phenomenon so there aren’t a large number of professional leagues. However, there are many local and independent leagues throughout the United states and Canada. The biggest league in the world is called The World Axe Throwing League (WATL). The league was created in 2017 by representatives of Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Ireland. The league has 19 axe throwing nations and continues to grow.

Here are the most popular Axe Throwing leagues you should know:

  • World Axe Throwing League (WATL)
  • Canadian Axe Throwing League (CATL)
  • Tom O’Hawks

Events and Competitions

Axe Throwing Events and Competitions

Axe throwing is a growing sport with many leagues and tournaments forming every year. Because it can be played indoors and outdoors, the sport can be played year round. Some of the biggest competitions and tournaments are the U.S. Open, the Ironside Open, the Canadian Open, and the Angrywood Open.

Here are the most popular tournaments in Axe Throwing:

  • U.S. Open: The U.S. Open hosts the three main types of Axe throwing for professionals; Standard, Duals, and Big Axe
  • Ironside Open: the top four winners earn a spot in the following World Championship
  • Canadian Open: the Canadian Open hosts three events; Standard, Duals, and Big Axe
  • Angrywood Open: the Angrywood Open is an Oklahoma tournament awarding a prize pool of $25,000


How much does it cost to go axe throwing?

Typically, going axe throwing at any bar or club costs $35 to $40.

Can you drink alcohol while axe throwing?

Alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited while axe throwing.

Will someone show me how to properly and safely throw an axe?

At every axe throwing venue, there will be an axe instructor to show you everything you need to know about axe throwing.

How long does an axe throwing session go for?

The majority of recreational axe throwing venues will offer anywhere from 1-2 hours for a reservation.