Ax throwing is an old Celtic sport that is still played today. While it seems like a sport mainly for men, women and children took part in it as well! In ax throwing, participants throw an ax or tomahawk at a target to earn points. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins! This sport is fun, but as you can imagine it can also be very dangerous, so let’s talk safety first!
There are a couple ways to secure the ax throwing area. The first way to do this is by making sure there is at least 50 feet of taped-off area behind the target so no one can end up behind it. Another safety precaution is to fence in the entire throwing and target area so that the only person in the area is the thrower. If you have multiple players going at one time (with multiple targets), make sure they are at least 10 feet apart so that if the ax is thrown off to the side, those next to one another aren’t in danger. Just in case, stock a first aid kit and have someone trained in first aid and CPR on hand just in case!
The target for ax throwing is 36” wide and has five rings that are each 4” wide. The outer most ring is worth one point, and the points increase by one for each ring until you reach the center, which is worth 5 points.
Players stand 21 feet away, behind a foul line, and hurl an ax at the target. The throw is scored based on the point level of the outer most ring that the ax is touching. So even if someone gets a bull’s eye but a little bit of the ax is touching the next ring outside of it, they get four points. If the player steps over the foul line at any time before the ax hits the target, they get 0 points for the throw. Each player gets 5 throws per game.
Making the Target
Targets are typically made of sections of a tree trunk or wood planks and are around four inches thick. The best types of wood to use include sycamore, tulip poplar, cottonwood, hackberry, ash, sassafras, and beech. You will want to ensure that your wood is cured and seasoned first which is a process that can take about 2-3 weeks, so plan ahead!
You will need a stand for your target as well. The basic stand is going to be made of 2 x 4s positioned in a V to nail the target to. You can then add another 2 x 4 to the back to make it a tripod, or lean it against a tree when you get to your throwing area.
Types of Axes and Tomahawks Used
Types of axes to throw will vary from person to person, just like a bowling ball. The height of the thrower is the first thing to take into consideration as this will help determine the length you’ll want to get. For those who are 5’5” and under, one that is around 16” is a good fit. For people 5’6” to 5’10”, look for a 19” ax or tomahawk. Finally, if you are taller than 5’10”, you’ll want it to be between 21" and 22”. There are many different types of axes and tomahawks and your selection will depend on your preference and the type of throwing you plan to do. Axes come in double sided and a single sided options. Tomahawks come in various shapes and sizes. The HawkThrowing.com website is a great resource for all things tomahawk related.
How to Throw
Begin with both hands firmly on the ax. Make sure you’re holding it so the blade is perfectly straight. Bring the ax back over your head and lean back. Bring the ax forward quickly and let go with your arms extended forward.
Throwing a tomahawk is a little different. Grip the handle with only one hand with the sharp end facing straight out. Bring your arm back while focusing on the spot of the target you want to hit. Lift it over your shoulder and throw it at the target.
If It’s Not Sticking:
If you’re finding that your throw is just bouncing off the target, there are some adjustments you can make. Usually you just have to adjust your distance to the target. To diagnose the problem, evaluate what part of the ax is hitting the target. If you’re hitting the target with the handle, you’re standing too close. Try backing up a bit and trying again. If you’re hitting it with the top of it, you’re too far away. Take a step closer and see if this helps.
On your next camping trip, give ax throwing a try. Since this can be a dangerous hobby, it's best if only adults watch and participate. Safety should come first with this game, so follow the tips above and enjoy ax throwing safely! For games that you can play with the whole family, try these fun camping games or make a DIY Pipe Ball set.
Have you ever tried your hand at ax throwing? Tell us about it in the comments!