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Cornhole and horseshoes are all right, but if you’re looking to take your lawn games to the next level, then it might be about time you consider throwing axes. Contrary to what you might assume, you don’t need giant arms and a bushy beard to enjoy this old-school game. Just about anyone can do it; getting good at throwing axes is less about strength than it is about form and technique. And while mastering the technique takes time, picking it up well enough to have fun is actually surprisingly easy. Once you know how to throw, you’ll find yourself racking up kill shots and bullseyes in no time.
Axe throwing and the ranges in which to do it have become popular in cities and are a great alternative to your standard bowling alley outing for any group of friends. It just takes one look at Google Trends to see that folks have been getting their throw on more and more for a few years now.
We recommend your inaugural axe throwing be at a proper axe-throwing range to ensure your safety. You’ll have an axe-throwing instructor who’s there to keep you safe and help you learn the technique. That said, the cost of frequenting axe throwing ranges can be kind of expensive, so if you find yourself really taking to the hobby, then it’s worth considering setting up your own backyard range. If you’re interested already, the World Axe Throwing League (WATL) has a detailed guide on how to build an at-home axe-throwing range.
Axe Throwing Safety
You might be wondering about the safety of axe throwing. Fortunately, you can ensure a fun, safe experience for everyone involved with just a few precautions.
For safety, it’s a good idea to assemble a backstop to contain the axe if it doesn’t land on the target. You’d be surprised by how much bounce back you can get from an axe that doesn’t penetrate its target(these aren’t throwing knives, after all). That’s why you’ll need to stand at least 12 feet away from the target and ensure there’s nothing a rouge axe can damage in the proximity of your throwing.
You should never direct an axe up toward someone with any weapon as a general rule. And if you’ve assembled two side-by-side targets, ensure both people have thrown their axes before going to retrieve them to avoid anyone stepping in front of an axe that has yet to be thrown. You should also wear closed-toe shoes, a standard requirement at most axe throwing ranges.
You might be surprised to learn that axe throwing ranges also typically serve alcohol. Sharp objects and spirits might seem like they shouldn’t mix, but that’s why it’s essential to know and abide by basic safety guidelines, which will decrease the likelihood of injury. Typically, they have a drink maximum for safety, but there’s no harm in sipping on a beer while throwing axes. In fact, it’s part of the appeal.
How To Throw an Axe
There are many ways to throw an axe, ranging from one-handed to underhanded trick shots. But it’s best first to familiarize yourself with the basic, two-handed technique.
- Your dominant hand holds the handle of the axe directly, near the base.
- The thumb of your non-dominant hand crosses over your dominant hand
- Raise the axe above your head.
- Position one foot out in front of the other as if you were mid-step.
- Throw the axe while shifting your weight from your back foot to your front.
This axe throwing technique gives you significant momentum to throw the axe at the target with enough force to land it without needing a great deal of strength in your arms.
With axe throwing, the target is relatively self-explanatory; the bullseye is worth the most points within the concentric circles, with diminishing point values the closer to the edge of the target.
However, there is something a little extra on the target, and that’s the kill shot. There are two small dots located outside of the central target circle. These are worth more than the bullseye. However, they have to be called before throwing (the way you might call a pocket during the 8-ball round of pool). If you miss, you’ll likely end up with no points, making the kill shots high risk, high reward.
The Best Throwing Axes
You can throw a wide variety of axes at a target, ranging from tomahawks to wood-handled camp knives. But in general, axes will typically have 14-inch to 16-inch handles and can be made from wood or composite materials. Weight is also a factor, and axes are weighed according to the head, not the entire axe. Generally, lighter axes will be more difficult to throw, while heavier axes can be more forgiving for beginners throwing axes. Read on for a few popular options to consider.
1. World Axe Throwing League The Competition Thrower
BEST THROWING AXE OVERALL
The competition thrower is one of the more economical axes made by the World Axe Throwing League, and it has a thin, sharp blade that’s ideal for hitting your target. The throwing axe has a 16-inch handle for comfortable handling. The head weighs 1.65 pounds.
2. Estwing Sportsman Camping Hatchet
Estwing is one of the top tool brands, especially for axes and hammers. This sportsman’s axe has a 14-inch handle made from a single piece of forged steel. The axe handle is wrapped in leather for a stylish touch and a comfortable grip. As a bonus, this affordable axe is American-made.
3. Cold Steel Throwing Axe Camping Hatchet
Cold Steel modified its camping hatchet to meet axe throwing league rules, making this a great option if you’re getting into axe throwing. It’s also a relatively inexpensive option. This throwing axe is on the lighter end of the spectrum in terms of weight. The head is 1.31 pounds, and the handle length is 16″.
4. Husky Premium Camp Axe
Many camp and tool axes work well for axe throwing, such as Husky’s premium camp axe. Its intended use is wood cleaning while out in the wilderness, but the 1.25-pound blade and 14-inch fiberglass handle help make it a mighty good throwing axe.
5. WATL The Corporal Axe
BEST COMPETITION THROWING AXE
The World Axe Throwing League manufactures a wide selection of axes meant explicitly for throwing, and this blade is one of their more premium offerings. It’s the best option if you want something that is competition ready. It has a head weight of 1.7 pounds and a total weight of 2.4 pounds.
6. Halder Hand Axe
This axe from Halder is the kind of axe you might gift an axe-throwing enthusiast. It comes at a premium price, thanks to the entire axe being crafted from a solid piece of durable German steel wrapped in leather for comfortable handling.
7. SOG Knives Throwing Hawks
BEST SMALL AXE
Smaller-sized axes are a great alternative to traditional throwing axes. These have a tactical-inspired look featuring a matte black finish and a handle with a paracord wrapping. This mighty miniature axe comes from SOG, a brand in the blade business since 1986 and at just 10-inches, this is a substantially shorter option.