Axe throwing has grown in popularity over the years. Originally reserved for the lumberjacks, it is now a nationally recognized sport with its own leagues (NATF and WATL). As exciting as it is to watch, you need to consider your safety when learning how to throw an axe. The sport still involves a dangerous weapon so you need the proper training and to learn some axe throwing tips.
As mentioned, you cannot just go and throw an axe without practice. Either you or somebody else can get hurt if you are not properly trained to handle the axe. If you are looking for some top axe throwing tips, well you have come to the right place. Here we will provide you with some tips on how you can excel in axe throwing.
Types of Axes
When it comes to axe throwing, not all axes are created equal. Although there are different kinds of axes, not all of them are designed for throwing.
Hatchets and Tomahawks
Small hatchets or forest axes are designed to cut through small obstacles such as tree branches. They weigh less than 2 pounds and is more than a foot long. These axes are the ones commonly used in recreational axe throwing establishments. Lightweight and easier to throw, hatchets are the best for beginners.
Tomahawks, meanwhile, were used by Native Americans for battle and hunting. They are thinner and lighter than a regular hatchet. These axes are multi-use tools as they can also be used for camping, cutting through brush and tree branches, and have also been used for wartime operations. They are also used for recreational axe throwing but most establishments prefer the traditional hatchets.
As the name implies, splitting axes are designed for splitting and chopping firewood. They have a sharp edge that cuts along the grain of wood. The axe head then quickly tapers out to push a piece of wood apart once cut.
Double Bit Axes
Double bit axes are the most menacing-looking of all the axes. However, there is really nothing to be scared about them. These axes were commonly used by forest workers in the 19th century. They had two edges as they had several uses. It is a 2-in-1 axe that combines the functions of a hatchet and a felling axe so that the workers don’t have to carry two axes around.
While they are used for work and the outdoor, double bit axes are used primarily for competitive axe throwing such as in the Lumberjack World Championships.
Axe throwing involves throwing a sharp tool with force towards a target. It can be safe as long as you follow proper safety guidelines:
- Inspect the axe before starting to ensure that it is in good condition. Make sure that the axe head is firmly attached to the handle. The latter should not have any cracks or structural damage. You don’t want the axe head flying off or slipping out of your hand and injure someone.
- Establish a proper lane system in order to avoid accidents or casualties. Simultaneous throwing should not be allowed especially if they are standing close together.
- Maintain the standard distance of 12 feet. The size and length of handle will determine how much further you need to stand from the target to get a full rotation during your throw. The larger the axe, the longer the distance but maintain the standard of 12 feet.
- When practicing, ensure that the area is secured. Check that you, other participants, and any spectator is protected. You can use your garage, backyard, or any large space as your practice area. Also, there should be sufficient backing behind your target in case you miss. Outdoors, you should have a dirt wall or a large open area. Indoors, your backing should support the walls and other items inside.
Ways To Throw An Axe
There are three ways to throw an axe: one-handed overhead, two-handed overhead, and underhand. For beginners, two-handed overhead is the easiest to learn and master. Learning the different types of throw can help improve your axe throwing technique.
- Keep the axe blade pointed straight at the target through the whole motion
- Hold your thumb against the back of the axe handle to keep your throw straight and more accurate
- Start with the axe held out in front of you instead of behind your head
- Put your dominant hand on top, both hands toward bottom of axe handle
- Bring the axe behind your head, straight back
- While swinging your arms up, make one fluid motion. You shouldn’t be speeding up or slowing down as you complete your throw.
- Release when the axe is almost right in front of your face, but don’t let your arms stop there
- Finish with a follow through after releasing the axe. This may sound picky but it really helps you get the right rotation.
- Don’t worry about flicking your wrists too much—the axe will rotate on its own if thrown with some power.
- Throwing the axe is not similar as releasing the axe at the right moment. Your coach can help you understand it. But the best way to get it right is just to practice and feel it out for yourself.
Chalk up for Success
Although it is not necessary, applying chalk to your hands can help you improve throwing accuracy. Chalk makes the release of the handle smoother and make sliding out of your grip with greater ease. Just one second can make a huge difference between hitting the bullseye or the axe bouncing off the target. In fact, axe throwing professionals use chalk in competitions.
To chalk your hands properly, apply it on your palm right where your fingers start. Then apply to where your thumbs start. This is where most of the pressure will be applied with your grip on the handle.
If you don’t use chalk, ensure that both your hands and the axe handle is totally dry by wiping them with a cloth before you throw. This will ensure the axe will slide out of your hands smoothly. A slight bit of moisture on either of your hands or axe handle will prevent the smooth sliding and spoil your aim.
Getting The Best Throw
Axe Throwing tips will only get you so far however. A combination of techniques and practice will determine just how good you get. Going to an axe throwing establishment regularly can become expensive. If this happens, you need to set up your own practice facility at home.
Make sure the axe blade is as sharp as possible to make it stick to the target. To maximize the results, you may also need to grind your axe head to get the perfect balance and weight for you.