Axe Throwing Techniques: How to Perfect Your Throw and Ensure Safety

Axe throwing has surged in popularity, evolving from a lumberjack pastime to a competitive sport and recreational activity that is a ton a fun an can be highly addictive.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced thrower, mastering the art of axe throwing requires understanding the right techniques, safety precautions, and equipment.

We are going to break it all down in this article to cover everything needed to know that has to do with axe throwing.

Some safety precautions before throwing your first axe!

While we aim (no pun intended) to provide accurate and helpful information, this guide is intended for informational purposes only.

We recommend seeking professional instruction before attempting to throw an axe.

Remember, you are responsible for your own safety. Practice axe throwing at your own risk!

man throwing an axe at a target on a board, axe throwing.

A Journey Through Time: The History of Axe Throwing

Not  just a modern-day sport; axe throwing has deep historical roots.

From ancient warriors training for battle to lumberjacks competing against each other, throwing axes has been a test of skill and strength for centuries.

Today, it’s a sport recognized by leagues like the World Axe Throwing League (WATL) and the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF).

The Importance of Equipment and Targets

In the Axe throwing world, the importance of using the right equipment cannot be overstated.

A well-crafted, sharp axe ensures precision and safety.

Using an axe designed specifically for throwing, instead of one for chopping wood, can improve the chances of the blade sticking to the target and reduce the risk of bounce-backs accidents.

Similarly, a target constructed from the right materials, provides the resistance for the axe to stick properly to the target.

Investing in quality equipment is not just about performance, it’s about making sure that every throw is safe, accurate, and satisfying.

In this sport, the right tools make all the difference, turning a good experience into an exceptional one.

The Axes

While most competitors prefer hatchets for their lightweight and maneuverability, some events even feature the felling axe are used, a larger axe that is mostly used for chopping trees.

The weight, balance, and sharpness all play a role in the throw’s outcome. We wrote a bit more about what you need to know before buying an axe and the important things you should consider.

If you’re looking for the right throwing axe, The WATL might be one of the first places to look to find one, it has a variety of axes tailored for throwers of all skill levels in their store.

Outdoor Wooden Bulls-eye

Designing the Perfect Target

Your axe needs a worthy adversary: the target. Traditional targets consist of five vertical 2″x10″ wooden planks, but there are a number of ways to build one.

Want to build your own axe throwing targets?  I find that the best way to learn is with a good video and you might be to, this video about How to Build an Axe Throwing Target by Artfully Rogue is a great way to learn how to build one.

Different leagues have slightly varied target designs:

IATF Target: Points are awarded based on the ring your axe lands in, with the outermost being 1 point and the bullseye fetching 5. Special green dots, or “clutch,” can earn you a whopping 7 points when hit.

WATL Target: This design has more scoring rings, with the outermost being 1 point and the bullseye granting 6. The blue dots, known as “killshots,” are the highest-scoring areas, worth 8 points.

Safety First: Axe Throwing Precautions

Safety is the most important thing to think of when throwing axes . Always ensure:

1. Clear Area: Before throwing, ensure no one is between you and the target and you have at least a 6 foot clearance around you.

2. Throw and Retrieve Together: If you’re with a partner, synchronize your throws and retrievals to prevent accidents. Make it a habit of walking down to the targets to retrieve your axes together even if you didn’t throw any, this will ensure that no axes will be thrown when they shouldn’t be. It sounds like its a no brainer but axe throwing isn’t something to mess with and you’d rather be safe than sorry!

3. Proper Removal: When extracting the axe from the target, wiggle it gently rather than yanking it out, if you do this, you will ensure that your target will have a longer life, yanking it out will destroy your target faster and eventually make the target unsafe.

Mastering the Throw: Techniques Revealed

Two-Handed Technique: Ideal for Beginners

1. Grip: Hold the axe lightly, similar to a golf club grip (hold the axe firm, a grip like if you were holding a baby bird, tight enough so it doesn’t fly away but loose enough not to hurt the bird.).

2. Stance: Have one foot slightly forward (opposite foot to your dominant hand) and align shoulders facing forward towards the bullseye,  the standard distance is usually about 12 feet away.

3. Motion: Draw the axe back over your head, somewhat like to how soccer players throw a ball inbounds, your release of the axe should be at or slightly above eye level.

One-Handed Throwing Technique: Advanced Skill

1. Grip: Ensure a relaxed grip to prevent sideways spinning, same as above, not too strong to hurt the bird but strong enough so the bird doesn’t fly away.

2. Stance: Your stance should start with your foot that is opposite your throwing arm in front, bit of a wider stance than a two handed throw, Align your throwing arm’s shoulder with the bullseye.

3. Motion: Draw the axe past your ear, keeping it straight, and release when the handle is vertical or at eye level. If your axe doesn’t stick, it might be due to over-rotation, under-rotation, or a side landing. Adjust your grip, distance, or throwing technique based on the axe’s impact.

Advanced Throwing Techniques

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, explore other methods like the two-handed step throw, one-handed static throw, and more. Videos and tutorials can offer visual guidance, enhancing your learning experience.

Elevate Your Axe Throwing Game: Advanced Techniques and Tips

Once you’ve mastered the basics, challenge yourself with advanced throws like the two-handed step throw and one-handed static throw, remember, practice makes perfect.

Throwing and adjusting often based on your axe’s impact will refine your technique. a tutorial can only tell you so much before you need to finetune your axe throwing on your own, and the only way to do that is to get a bunch of practice in.

The Sport of Axe Throwing

Axe throwing, once a survival skill, has transformed into a competitive sport with a passionate following. Two major leagues, the IATF and WATL, have standardized rules and target designs, making the sport more accessible and organized for enthusiasts worldwide.

While axe throwing can be traced back to ancient civilizations, there are places that exist now a days that have transformed it into a social and competitive activity.

Axe Throwing Venues – Where To Start

Places like BATL Axe Throwing, founded in Toronto in 2006, have played a huge role in this renaissance of axe throwing.

They offer private sessions, walk-in sessions, and even leagues for those looking to compete regularly.

There might be one near you and might be a great place to start your axe throwing journey.

They have professionals there to help you with tips on how to throw them and instead of having to purchase all the equipment before you know if you even like it… but let’s face it, you’ll love it!

axe with accessory, black leather protective sheath

The Resurgence of Axe Throwing

Axe throwing, once a survival skill, has seen a resurgence as a modern sport and recreational activity. Its blend of history, skill, and competition offers a unique experience for participants. As you delve into the world of axe throwing, remember to prioritize safety, continuously learn, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.

Caution: Axe throwing safety is the utmost important thing to keep in mind, please always seek professional guidance if unsure on how to handle and throw an axe and guide assistance in anything else that could be potentially dangerous.