Axe Throwing Competitions – The Breakdown

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After practicing throwing your axe or hanging out with your friends you might start little competitions of your own. However that may seem to bore you or ou might want to test your skills against other competitors.

This is where people take the slow dip into competitive axe throwing. Once you get your feet wet there might not be any going back!

Where to find an axe throwing organization

Before we begin our axe throwing we will want to figure out where our nearest hatchet throwing organization is located. Most people that live in the US will search up the NATF (National Axe Throwing Federation) which has organization from the atlantic all the way to the pacific ocean.

If you do not live in the US or maybe none of the NATF locations are close it might be a good idea to go to the WATL (World Axe Throwing League) which offers more locations.

If you have both options available to you it might be a good idea to think of the advantages and disadvantages of each one. The rules are slightly different but the main focus that I would bring up is how scoring works. In the NATF, the axe throwing target does not have as many rings.

This is both a blessing and a curse as it allows more inaccuracy in your throws but also does not help those that want to improve their skills further on. In a sense it is a more casual scoring device.

The WATL on the other hand has a more distinct scoreboard with more rings, include this with the ‘killzones’ (Small targets that grant more points than a bullseye) and you have much more opportunity to make mistakes.

Overall I would tell people to go with the WATL if given the opportunity as it allows more room for growth, the NATF is still a great league but I feel like it’s association with more bars and breweries promotes a more casual and hang out kind of atmosphere.

There Is nothing wrong with this, however I believe that the only way to improve is with more serious competitors instead of slightly buzzed random participants.

What to Wear

While you will not be running up and down a large football field, clothing is still very important to keep in mind. Most places will be warm, nearing hot. While others will have air conditioning running all the time. From here you need to think about what will make you most comfortable. If you are unsure of what you are going to need, here is what I would suggest.

-Comfortable undergarments

-Thin, short sleeve, athletic shirt or tank top

-Denim jeans (Belt preferred)

-Long sleeve, buttoned shirt

-Comfortable, solid sneakers.

These items will make sure that you are ready to throw if the place turns frigid or if someone decides to light the place on fire. The merino wool socks are a personal suggestion as I find that they help keep the feet comfortable while standing for long periods of time.

If you are not sure if you are going to sit in between games or sets then expect to stand the entire length of the competition.

The best choice for a beginner or advanced thrower is the good old OG throwing axe- the Shopro Hatchet

What to Expect from a Competition

When you go to your first axe throwing competition depending on the location you will find several people, all of which are varying ages and sizes. You will even find several women, throwing an axe does not discriminate!

Once you are there, typically there is someone that is the organizer for the night. He will establish the roster of people participating for the night as well as the entrance fee.

The entrance fee can range from five dollars on up depending on several things. The first of which is the venue. Most bar/axe-throwing hybrid locations offer cheaper registration for signing up for a competition, while the ranges themselves will likely be a bit more expensive.

This is to help deter the outside costs, not to mention the professional atmosphere that you will be indulging yourself in.

After the fee is paid for there is typically some time for the organization to prep the event. Some locations ask that you bring your own axes to use (Check out this article on how to throw axes) while other locations might use their own axes. The reason for this could be overall consistency.

If two throwers are of equal skill, a different axe per person can make a large difference. Having the same axe can create an equal playing ground for some. If you are not sure if your site allows your own axes or not it would be a good idea to call them.

After this is set you will be given a warm-up time. This time typically allows you a certain period of time in which you can use the various targets and ranges to make sure that you get the right throws and get your arm into motion.

Most locations that art crowded or have limited space will most likely limit you towards a certain number of throws so that everyone gets a chance. The WATL specifically specifies that each person is only allowed five throws before their competition can begin.

Once all the practice is done the competition can begin. From here you can expect to have a lot of nerves, some fierce competition and some great moments. What you should plan is a few hours of axe throwing.

This is because a lot of tournaments create a play and wait sort of format. Most cases you will make about ten to twelve throws before you can take any kind of break to give your arm a reprieve.

If you feel like you are missing a lot of your shots, be sure to check out our article on How to Throw an Axe and hit the Bulls Eye.

The target ranges themselves do vary. Some will see a long hallway with the targets alongside the walls. While others have fences posted throughout. This allows more people to grab their axes after their turn without having to wait for the person next to them. It is a great safety measure.

After a round with you and another person, typically they will make you challenge against another axe thrower and so on and so forth.

While people think they do a tournament format at the beginning, that is simply not true. To allow everyone to get the most throws possible, most groups typically do round robin style tournaments with points tallied up.


You think after one day there is a winner? Most leagues the answer will be no. To keep things fresh and to allow training and improvement, most leagues offer seasons. The seasons can last from four weeks up to twelve weeks, allowing players to come in weekly, compete and get more points.

At the end of these seasons there is typically a tournament which does show who the winner is. These formats can vary, as some will go for an overall point method of the entire season while others go for a ‘winner take all’ tournament at the season finale.

These competitions at first can be very scary, however it is up to you to get the courage to go to them. If you are nervous about your first time there is no shame in going just to observe.

These small chances to see what the competition looks like can give you an edge as to how to prepare yourself and what kind of training would be best for you.

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