You can’t get any more official than this. All of the rules and regulations outlined below are from the global governing body and league for urban axe throwing, aka the World Axe Throwing League. Since we founded it, you can rest assured that we take this stuff seriously and we want everyone to have both a fun and safe experience whenever they walk into a Bad Axe Throwing venue.
Additionally, we’ve included everything there is to know about axe throwing games—from rules used for warm-up games to the international standard for round-robin axe throwing tournaments. When you book an event at an urban axe throwing facility, you’ll be assigned a professional coach who will keep score and call all the shots, just like a ref. If you take a moment to read this article, you’ll find a tip or two that will help you get the upper hand prior to your tournament as well as score major brownie points with your coach!
Get ahead of the competition, bring your A-game and keep reading. We’ll provide a high-level overview, but you can read the official WATL rules on their website.
Age isn’t just a number—it ensures you can handle a real axe and play by the rules. All axe throwing participants must be the age of the majority in their state, province or local municipality. Generally it’s 18-21 years-old, but your local axe throwing venue will know.
Since you’re hitting it with steel blades, all targets need to be of good quality wood and sprayed with water to allow the axes to stick. Boards need to be replaced when they get too loose or rough looking.
Each participant is allowed 5 warm-up throws before their first match and one 1 practice throw before any other matches.
Every participant gets 10 throws per match, 5 throws on each side of the designated axe throwing space. The winner of the match is determined by the most points after 10 throws. In the event of a tie, there will be a sudden death where participants will throw until one gets more points. The top 16 or 75% of participants will move on to playoffs in the WATL where the winner is determined by playing the best of 5 matches.
Each game will have different objectives which can alter the way you choose to score points. Point values are always obvious and clearly marked on the targets. If they aren’t, your referee (coach) will take care of it.
- 6 points for the bulls-eye
- 4 points for the blue ring
- 3 points for the red ring
- 2 points for the green ring
- 1 point for the black ring
The kill shot is only available on the tenth and final throw of the match. Your coach will provide a countdown as both players MUST throw their axes at the exact same time.
The blue balls, also known as the kill shot, award 10 points but only in moment of tie-breakers. Otherwise the blue balls are worth the value of the ring they are in.
If the axe is in 2 rings simultaneously, then they are awarded the points for the higher valued ring.
Stick and Stay Policy: The axe must remain in the target for the throw to count. If it falls out, then the throw will be awarded a “0”.
So, you think it’s as simple as picking up a wooden handle with a steel blade attached to it and whipping it hard? Think again. There’s a lot of technique and strategy that goes into every throw if you want to be a winner. There must be at least ONE rotation per throw. If an axe only makes about 50% of a rotation and the blade touches or sticks to the target, the throw counts. You’ve got two options:
1 – one hand holding the axe and over or behind the head
2 – two hands holding the axe and over or behind the head
Where: Lines marked on the floor approximately 12-14 feet from the targets designate a range to throw from. Shorter players generally throw from the front line marked at 12′ and taller players generally throw from the back line marked at 14′. If you fall into that sweet average height range, you get to float between the lines.
Why: The range of motion created by the thrower, referred to as rotation, will actually be larger for a taller player. This means that the axe will actually reach the target sooner with less rotation. By comparison, a shorter player’s rotation is smaller which means the axe has more opportunity to rotate within the same distance before reaching the target. The results are over-rotation and under-rotation. The axe has a greater chance of sticking to the target if it rotates exactly once before reaching the target. Therefore, a shorter player with a smaller rotation should stand closer to the target and a taller player with a larger rotation should stand further back from the target to allow the axe to rotate exactly once within the set distance. Put simply, your axe throwing coach will show you where to plant your feet unless you want to show off what you learned in physics 101.
Each participant throws from a box that is 3 feet wide. The lead foot must be in the boxed area at all times when throwing, while the back foot can be outside or behind the boxed area. The front foot is allowed to touch the front line during a throw BUT if the foot is over the front line at the start/during the throw, it will be counted as zero. If their foot is over the line after the axe is release, the throw is counted. Participants are not allowed to step forward or over the line during throws.
WHEN TO THROW
Knowing when to throw is almost as important as knowing how to throw, as it could cost you major points if you throw too early or too late. Here’s some tips on knowing when to throw the axe;
Axe throwing is a competitive sport which means players throw against other players. Each lane has two targets side-by-side which means you and your buddies throw right beside each other. The coach will provide a count down from 3 to account for all 3 positions the axe should reach in the players’ form. Learn more about how to throw an axe. Axes from each player should be released at the same time and retrieved from inside the lane only when both axes have landed.
Is axe throwing safe? Urban axe throwing venues pride themselves on maintaining outstandingly low incident rates. Safety is paramount in the sport of axe throwing and a major reason are the axe throwing coaches.
Axes – Each and every axe is inspected prior to each event to ensure the axe is up to par. Participants are instructed to grip the axe by the handle and only the handle. Coaches ensure the blades of the axes are sharp enough to hit AND stick to the target, but are not razor blade sharp to the touch. No broken axes are ever used.
Lanes – Each throwing area is designated as a throwing lane. Fences block this area from the rest of the facility to keep throwers and axe all contained. Only the 2 throwers and the axe throwing coach are allowed in inside the lane at one time. This includes ensuring the area behind the throwers is clear. For safety reasons, participants are instructed to throw and retrieve their axes in sync with one another.
Coaches – Each event is assigned a fully trained axe throwing coach. Coaches provide step-by-step direction throughout the entire event from orientation, demonstrating how to throw an axe, running tournaments to crowing the ultimate axe throwing champion. To ensure the safety of each participant, the coaches countdown from 3, signalling the throwers when to throw. These coaches monitor the overall safety of the event as well as provide personalized coaching for the participants to be able to hit that bulls-eye.
MINI AXE THROWING GAMES
There are a TON of mini axe throwing games you can play to get warmed up for your tournament. Your event will always begin with these games to ensure all participants get comfortable for more competition later on. Here’s a list of some of our favourites:
Countdown: This involves two teams starting at a high score of 100. Each point scored will knock off some points with the ultimate goal of getting to zero first. The tricky part? You have to hit zero bang on, meaning if your score is at 2 and you hit a bulls-eye, which is 6 points your score is now -4 and you need 4 points to get back to zero to win.
Rings: While this game seems easy at the onset, it’s quite challenging once you start throwing. The goal with this axe throwing game is to hit each ring/target in the correct order, meaning your first throw is to aim for the outer ring, and the second throw is aiming for the second ring from the outside. Once you reach the bulls-eye your goal is to hit the blue balls in the top left and then the top right corners. The first team to successfully hit all targets in the correct order, wins!
Tic-Tac-Toe: Here we bring you back a couple of decades to your childhood and introduce you to the axe throwing version of tic-tac-toe. This game includes drawing the tic-tac-toe grid onto your axe throwing target and each team or player gets a throw into the grid. The first to get all axes in a successful tic-tac-toe wins!
OFFICIAL ROUND ROBIN TOURNAMENT GUIDE
Scoring: Each round, each player will get 5 throws from each target for a total of 10 and whoever gets the most points wins that round robin match. The format is as follows: bump axes, throw 5, switch places, bump axes, throw 5.
Match Ups: Compete in a qualifying round where pairings with head-to-head match-ups don’t matter. Every player’s score will be recorded individually to determine their standing in round 1. The highest scorers match-up against the lowest scorers in round 1, which means players scoring closest to mid-range in qualifying will play each other. If there is an odd number of participants, the player with the highest score in a given round gets a by in the next round. This player will compete against the lowest scorer of the next round to even out the match ups. Essentially, the lowest scorer of a given round with an odd number of competitors has two match ups.
Progression: Each successive round will have half as many players as the one before it until there are two players left for the finals. If a player has a by into the finals (due to odd numbers) that player will play the winner of the final 1 on 1 round for the ultimate championship.
Team Tournament: For team battles divide the groups in half. Each player will get 5 throws. Add up the the points from each player and whatever team has the most points wins that round.
MAXIMUM & MINIMUM GROUP REQUIREMENTS
The more the merrier! The sport of axe throwing is simply more fun with more people. The majority of locations require a minimum booking of 8 players to facilitate adequate turnover time and maximize competition. Urban axe throwing facilities can typically accommodate much larger groups ranging anywhere from 50 to 120 participants. Depending on the group size, there will be various game options available for warmup but the official round robin tournament is a common practice that is always available. Depending on the size of the group, the length of the event will vary slightly. On average, an event lasts for 2.5 hours and 3 hours for a larger group. This allows all participants to practice axe throwing and get comfortable with what works/doesn’t work for them. It also allows enough time for the competition and one lucky player to be crowned the ultimate axe throwing champion!
Axe Throwing is a unique way to celebrate a special occasion, organize a team building event or simply have a great time with family and friends. Now that you’ve learned all about axe throwing rules and games, it’s time for you to see if you can apply the skills. Here are just a few reasons why you should book your axe throwing event with us:
- We’re the biggest urban axe throwing business in the world!
- We’ve received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor (we’re the number one ranked axe throwing venue in Toronto).
- Safety is extremely important to us and we provide a designated coach to each booking.
- We have 5 star ratings across the board, for all locations including reviews on Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor.
- Our locations can accommodate small or large groups.
- We encourage you to bring your own snacks and drinks so that you can eat, drink and be burly while throwing!
- AND our coaches will make sure you have an absolute blast (we guarantee it).
Your axe throwing coach will take it from here so get in there and give it a whirl! Remember to have fun and the bulls-eyes will fall into place.