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What do you think, is Axe throwing safe?
If you’ve never been to an axe throwing bar/venue you might think its an accident waiting to happen. I’m here to help change your mind.
The reality is that under the right supervision it is very hard to get hurt playing with axes. Even if it is your very first time – you are in for a pleasant surprise.
New locations are popping up.. EVERYWHERE and for good reason. Safety is definitely a big thing when dealing with axe throwing, and any certified location takes that as their #1 priority. From the moment you walk in to your last throw, you will be having so much fun that the thought of danger never really crosses your mind. Lets take a look at exactly what factors in to your safety on the axe throwing range.
Most axe throwing ranges are set up similar to gun ranges. Think of being ten or more feet away from the target board, several chain link fences along the wall to prevent your axe from accidentally hitting your neighbors target and in a distraction free environment. These places were built with safety in mind.
Not only are the axe masters (and every employee) constantly on the lookout, but the architecture of the establishment is such that it can be pretty difficult to get hurt even if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The #1 concern I hear most often relates to drinking and throwing. “How safe can it really be if everyone’s got a beer and an axe.. that doesn’t seem smart to me”.
First of all – it goes to show just how safe it really is when just about every single location offers alcohol. As previously mentioned, the people that work inside are trained to spot misconduct almost instantly, and the logistics of it all really makes it difficult to cause an accident even if you are being careless.
Trust me – at first sight of someone doing something they aren’t supposed to – that person will be out the door as quick as they came in.
As far as I know, all locations function this way and for good reason.
On the other hand, if you are a backyard thrower or feel like having some extra fun on a camping trip, that is all on you. We highly recommend you getting coached by someone at a reputable axe throwing location rather than trying it out on your own on a tree. Preferably someone who’s thrown axes in competitions.
This information may be lost on those of you who know what they are doing and enjoy throwing in the good old outdoors (like myself). For anyone new or skeptical about the sport feel free to check out your local venue first and get a feel for what it is really like before painting a bullseye on a tree and throwing a few. You’ll thank me later.
Tools of the trade
Since we are talkng about safety lets talk about the different types of axes themselves. First of all, no need to buy or bring your own axes when going for the first time – house axes are perfectly fine and a lot of fun to throw. However, I’ve seen it time and time again, it only takes 1 or 2 times to get hooked. You will soon want to go out and buy your own fancy axe or use something you might have lying around. Here are some great checklist items you’ll want to consider regarding that hatchet/tomahawk before that first throw:
- Clean Handle.
- Sharpened Blade.
- Smooth grip.
- Fresh paracord/bandage handle.
- Strong, well placed head.
- Overall well balanced.
A good handle will prevent slips when being thrown, if it is a wooden handle it will also prevent the wood from splintering into your palm(pretty rare for this to happen but old axes can be unpredictable at times). A sharp blade will make sure that it hits the target smoothly without it deflecting and ending up on the floor.
If you have a cool axe laying around and are not quite sure if it is good enough for safety reasons, here are some things I would ask myself:
Is the axe showing signs of rot or rust?
A sign of rot or rust on the axe is the initial sign of wear and tear. Making sure that the axe itself is in a stable and normal condition benefits yourself as well as those using it. It is one of the most obvious signs you can see in an unsafe axe.
Do I have to tightly hold on to the handle to prevent it from slipping?
This should be an obvious one. When holding the axe make sure you can move your arm around its range of motion without any weird slippage of the handle. Sometimes depending on what kind of wood was used for the handle, it may look fine but feel like its falling apart, or slipping out of your hand. Normally this would be a huge sign for me to either get a new handle or trash it completely as there is probably a big problem with the axe overall.
Does the overall balance feel even slightly off?
A strong axe is also a balanced axe. Having a balanced axe not only promotes a good throw, it is best practice for upkeep on all of your axes/hatchets/tomahawks. Having an axe that is too top heavy means that there is loose material, typically the head of the axe is loose and pushed up the very end of the handle. Make sure that the axe is up to par and see if there need to be any small adjustments made. Check out this article on how to balance your axe for more tips.
If I lightly tug at the blade head, does it move or come off?
This is one of the more important things to check on. If after a couple of throws the head of the axe seems to get loose, stop what you’re doing. You should try to hammer it down so that it is back to its original position(and it stays tightly down there). Be careful trying to fix this issue yourself if you are new to all this – many times things seem like they are finally fixed until you to go throw and the head comes off! For this reason I always tell everyone better to be safe than sorry and get a new axe, or take it to someone who knows what they are doing to get it fixed.
If you answer no to these questions then your axe should be in great condition and ready to be used. These fixes made to an unsafe axe are not often quick and painless, so once again do yourself a favor and get a new axe and avoid all of these headaches if you feel even the smallest things are off. We don’t want to be unsure when it comes to safety.
What about safety equipment?
It is true that the use of gloves and goggles might be needed when doing actual woodworking, felling or other axe related tasks. Leave those for the specific tasks, axe throwing doesn’t require any of that. It might be a good idea to wear gloves while working on an old wooden axe or adjusting a wooden target board to prevent splinters but even then its a little unnecessary. Same goes for eye protection.
Overall axe throwing is much safer than people think. Throwing axes may seem a bit scary but even throwing the blades solo in an empty forest can be safe if you are careful.
Get yourself the right throwing axe for a beginners and do some research on a location nearby.
Throwing at a certified axe throwing bar/venue is our #1 recommendation. The people helping you have been trained and can spot rookie mistakes very fast before anything dangerous happens. Venues have clear rules and regulations for a reason and safety is truly a huge factor to any axe throwing location/business.
The establishments themselves are built in such a way to prevent accidents as much as possible. Practice your axe throwing terms, and get to a nice location and have some fun.
We hope that by now you understand that throwing axes is as fun as it is safe. As the sport gets more and more popular each month – more and more locations are popping up across the US and Canada (and the rest of the world). You are in good hands when at a range – so grab a friend, google the nearest axe throwing bar and see just how much fun it is for yourself.