How To Throw An Axe: The Basics
1. What Axe Should I Use?
You're going to need to start with a very sharp axe. The sharper the better. Despite what you might think, a sharper axe will be much safer since it will have a much higher chance to stick in the boards without using so much force! The World Axe Throwing League (WATL) makes throwing axes for throwers of all skills levels that we'll touch on later. Throwing axes cannot be found in local hardware stores, thoses axes are designed to split wood. When axe throwing, we want to stick the axes in the target, not split it in half. A sharp axe will not only help you stick the axe in the target, it will also make your target boards last longer.
2. Axe Throwing Target Design
In addition to a sharp axe you'll need an axe throwing target. The WATL has resources on how to build your own target. Their axe throwing starter kit includes the markers and stencil you'll need to draw your target lines. Traditionally, targets are made of five vertical 2"x10" wooden planks arranged next to each other. When the target is in place, whether on a target stand, a wall or a combination of the two, you can then use the stencil and WATL markers to draw your target, including bullseye and Killshot (which is worth the most points).
3. Axe Throwing Safety
Safety should always be the number one priority when throwing axes. You should make sure before you throw there is never anyone between you and the target and you have a minimum of a six foot radius around you that is clear of any other people. If you're throwing at a venue or with a partner you'll want to make sure you throw the axes together and retrieve the axes together.
4. Axe Throwing Stance
After ensuring the area is clear you will want to take one of two stances:
Throwing the axe with two hands you should line up directly in line with the bullseye about 12 feet away from the target. We may need to adjust the distance depending on the rotation of the axe.
If you're throwing the axe with one hand you will line up with the shoulder of your throwing arm in line with the bullseye, again approximately 12 feet from the target. Two handed throwing is easier for beginners.
How To Throw An Axe Two-Handed: for Beginners
Hold the axe gingerly as if you were holding a golf club. The harder you grip the axe, the more difficult it will be to let go while keeping the axe straight.
1. Bring the axe back directly over your head as if throwing a soccer ball.
2. Bring your arms forward and release the axe at eye level.
3. Depending on how the axe hits the target, we will need to adjust distance.
a If the blade hits parallel to the boards you're at the perfect distance, stay there and perfect your throw.
b If the top of the axe hits the board you over-rotated and should take a half step closer to the target.
c If the bottom of the axe hits the board you under-rotated and should take a half step backwards.
How To Throw An Axe One-Handed: More Advanced
Make sure not to grip the axe too tightly as it can cause it to spin sideways. This is bad because we want the axe head to line up with the vertical wood grain.
1 To throw one-handed bring the axe back past your ear making sure not to tilt left to right.
2 The axe should nearly touch your shoulder before starting your forward motion.
3 Follow through throwing the axe as if you were throwing a dart and release the axe when the handle is straight up and down.
4 Make the distance adjustments mentioned above depending on how your axe hits the board.
How to Build Axe Throwing Targets
You can find all the lumber requirements to build a free-standing target on the WATL website. The most important part is that you have a large enough open area to fit a target that is 4 feet wide and approximately 7 to 8 feet tall. This will be much better than attempting to throw axes at logs or even a tree. Not only will you kill the tree but you will have a much harder time getting axes to stick on a small, non-flat surface.
After creating the target area you'll need to pick up a stencil and some markers to effectively create your target. You can find the tools you need in the WATL Starter Kit designed specifically to get you throwing at home. Make sure you follow these instructions on how to use the stencil and your target will be set up perfectly. Your axe throwing target is now built and ready to throw.
The Best Axes for Axe Throwing
The World Axe Throwing League makes the best axes for axe throwing because they are designed specifically for throwing and not intented for any other purpose. They offer a variety of axes depending on skill level and personal preference.
The easiest to recommend and best for throwers of beginner to intermediate skill is The World Axe Throwing League Competition Thrower. The Competition Thrower is built to be sturdy and take a beating while also maintaining a sharp edge to make throwing easy. All WATL Axes are made from forged steel for strength and have a straight 16 inch handle to allow for flexibility in throwing styles. At just over 2 lbs the Competition Thrower is great for prolonged throwing sessions. You can also find the Competition Thrower in the WATL Starter Kit
Taking a step up from the Competition Thrower you'll find a WATL axe named after us. The Bad Axe. The Bad Axe maintains most of the same design as the Competition Thrower while improving on the blade to allow more coverage and a thinner profile.
The Best Axes for Advanced Axe Throwers
The Corporal is very similar to The Bad Axe for intermediate or advanced throwers. Maximum coverage with a perfectly straight blade is the advantage for The Corporal. This means much higher chances of sticking the axe if you have perfected your distance from the target. The extremely thin profile of The Corporal matches The Bad Axe and our next axe. The Ace of Spades.
The Ace of Spades is the most advanced axe in the WATL lineup. With a teardrop shaped blade it allows for the maximum forgiveness and sticking power by any thrower. Because of it's design it is the most susceptible to damage from user error or poor target quality. For this reason it is encouraged that the Ace of Spades only be purchased by experienced axe throwers.
For those that want to participate in a different kind of throw experience the WATL also sells larger axes in addition to standard hatchets. The WATL offers Big Axe specific leagues and competitions. The WATL Big Axe is the only axe on the market designed specifically for axe throwing with a profile that matches hatchet sized axes.