A Beginner’s Guide for How To Throw An Axe
If you’re looking to throw some axes, whether it’s at an axe throwing facility or out in the woods, this guide will show you everything you need to know to have an absolute blast throwing axes accurately and safely.
An Overview of Axe Throwing
- The Sport – Axe throwing is a relatively new sport with rising popularity. The 2 major league types are IATF and WATL, with slight differences in the targets they use and the rules they follow. The basic idea is you throw your axe at a target, and the more accurate you are the more points you get.
- The Axes – Most throws are made with a hatchet, but a felling axe (big axe) is used sometimes as well. You can see the anatomy of an axe and IATF dimensions requirements below.
3. The Targets – When you go to an axe throwing venue, they will usually be using one of the following target types.
IATF Target: Going from the outer ring to the inner ring, you are awarded 1 point, 3 points, and 5 points for sticking your axe in the target. The green dots, or “clutch”, are worth 7 points when applicable.
WATL Target: Going from the outer ring to the inner ring, you are awarded 1 point, 2 points, 3 points, 4 points, and 6 points for sticking your axe in the target. The blue dots, or “killshots”, are worth 8 points when applicable.
4. Safety – There are a few key points to keep in mind when axe throwing to ensure everone’s safety.
How To Do a Static, Two-Handed Throw (with a hatchet)
- Use your dominant hand to pick up the axe with a loose but firm grip at the base of the axe handle.
- Place your opposite foot at the front of the throwing line, or 170 inches from the target.
- With the hand holding the axe, stretch your arm out in front of you with your fist in the bullseye.
- The axe should be positioned perpendicular to your forearm with your wrist locked.
- Wrap your other hand around your dominant hand for guidance and support.
- Draw the axe back over head while breathing in and transfer your weight to your back foot.
- Puff your chest, and lead with your chest as you begin to exhale moving your body and axe towards the target while transferring your weight to your front foot and release at the bullseye.
Corrections For Dropped Axes
A few reasons your axe might not stick in the board would be over-rotating, wrist flicking (a type of over-rotating), under-rotating, or pancaking (land on the side of the axe face).
Cues to correct over-rotating:
- Put your thumb up on the back of the handle with your dominant hand.
- Move your grip up on the axe ½ to1 inch (unless you have a problem with wrist flicking).
- Move closer to the target.
With the static two-handed throw, you want to avoid flicking your wrists. Some things to look for that will hint that you’re wrist flicking are severe over-rotation, and if you’re throwing motion feels or looks kind of you’re shooting a basketball.
Cues to correct a wrist flick:
- Lock out your wrists
- Ensure your axe is perpendicular to your arms
- Flare your hands out and follow through with your arms like you are throwing dust or mud at the wall.
- Keep your elbows straighter.
- Move your grip lower on the axe.
- Lean forward when releasing the axe, throw hands toward the target and follow through bringing your arms down past your legs.
- Move closer to the board.
Cues to correct under-rotating:
- Move your grip lower on the axe, placing your pinky below the shelf.
- Move further from the target.
- Bend your elbows on the drawback and bring the axe behind your head.
Cues to correct pancaking:
- Loosen your grip.
- Ensure the axe blade is straight at the target with a hand position at the start.
- Be sure to breathe in as you draw back, and breathe out as you release.
- Flare your hands out and away on the release.
- Square your hips and shoulders to the board.
Other Throwing Methods
Once you’ve got the two-handed static throw figured out, try giving some of these other throws a shot.
- Two-handed step throw
- One-handed step throw
- One-handed static throw
Here’s a video going over a one-handed throw.