Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray
I get it! Axe throwing is an incredibly awesome hobby that anyone would be super excited to start. However, just because you saw a few guys doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s as easy as it looks, literally.
As most axe thrower pros would admit, the perfect throw is not a natural-born talent. It requires a bit of learning and practice to hone this interesting skill. So, where should you start? I believe learning how to throw an axe is a great place to start.
Although axe throwing seems like an easy, repetitive motion, several techniques to it are worth learning. The techniques we are going to discuss today are bound to yield relatively high accuracy with a moderate amount of practice.
2 Main Techniques to Throw an Axe
If you are throwing at a venue with a partner, you want to make sure that you both throw your axes at the same time. You’ll also want to retrieve your axes at the same time too. Make sure that you use a sharp axe. A sharp axe has a higher chance of sticking to a board without using too much force.
Once you have everything ready, it’s time for you to start throwing using any of the below ax-throwing techniques:
Two-Handed Axe Throw Over Your Head
For this technique, you’ll need to hold the axe using both hands. You want to make sure that you grip the axe lightly as if you were holding a golf club. The harder the grip, the more challenging it will be to release when it comes to throwing.
This technique is especially perfect if you are a beginner. You won’t need to exert a lot of pressure to execute a throw. With that said, follow the below steps to throw an axe two-handed:
- Step 1: Take your position at the 15 feet mark.
- Step 2: You want to place your dominant hand on top of the axe with the thumb lined up with the axe.
- Step 3: Take your non-dominant hand and place it on the bottom with the thumb lined up as well. If you’ve played golf before then this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Ensure that your grip is not too tight and not too loose either.
- Step 4: Line up your shot.
- Step 5: Step forward in a smooth motion. You want to make sure that one foot stays behind the 15-feet marker. There is no limitation to how far the other foot can stretch past the marker line. As long as the other one stays behind the marker.
- Step 6: Draw the axe backward, over your head, and then rock it forward as you transfer your weight to your back foot.
- Step 7: Bring the axe forward until you are at eye level. Make sure that your arm is extended and parallel to the ground.
- Step 8: Release the axe.
- Step 9: Maintain a smooth, fluid movement when releasing the axe. This means no sudden movements. Move your elbows and body in the same direction.
Alternatively, you can also try this method.
- Step 1: Grip the base of the handle with your dominant hand
- Step 2: You want to place your opposite foot in front of the throwing line. Make sure that the other foot remains behind the marker.
- Step 3: Extend out your dominant hand, make sure that you aim your arm at the target’s center.
- Step 4: Make sure that the axe remains at a 90-degrees angle to your forearm and parallel to the ground.
- Step 5: For added support and guidance, wrap your non-dominant hand over the dominant hand.
- Step 6: Take a long deep breath as you draw your axe over your head. Shift your weight to your back foot as you do this.
- Step 7: Exhale as you move your axe over your head and towards your target. As you do this, remember to transfer your weight to your front foot.
- Step 8: Release the axe.
After throwing the axe, you will have one or more of the following outcomes:
- The Axe hits parallel to the board: It means that you threw the axe from a perfect distance.
- The top part of the axe hits the board: This means that you over-rotated. To correct this, you’ll need to take half a step toward the board.
- The bottom part of the axe (the handle) hits the board: This means that you under-rotated. To correct it, you’ll need to take half a step away from the board.
One-Handed Axe Throw Over the Shoulder
This technique is an advanced technique. It requires more strength than the two-handed technique. There are two ways you can do this; a one-handed step throw or a one-handed static throw.
With that said, here’s how to go about it:
- Step 1: Grip the axe with your dominant hand. Remember, this technique needs a bit more strength. However, don’t grip the axe too much. If you do, the axe might spin sideways during release. You don’t want to miss your target, don’t you?
- Step 2: Draw the axe back. Make sure that it goes past your ear, nearly touching your shoulder. Make sure the axe lines up with your shoulder. There should be some distance between the axe and your ears.
- Step 3: Move your arm in a forward motion as if you are throwing a dart.
- Step 4: Release the axe once the handle is straight, up and down.
- Step 5: Depending on how your axe hits the board, make the necessary adjustments.
Corrections/ Adjustments for Dropped Axes
There are several reasons why your axe might not be hitting the board in the way that you intend it to. I’ve already mentioned a few of these reasons; over-rotation & under-rotation.
Here are some more reasons why you are not hitting the board correctly along with ways to make corrections or adjustments:
You may not understand what I mean by wrist flicking. Here are two ways to know that you are wrist-flicking. One, your throwing motion feels like you are shooting a basketball. Two, the axe is undergoing severe over-rotation.
To correct wrist flicking, you want to:
- Lock out your wrists
- Ensure that the axe is perpendicular to your arms.
- Open up your hands and let your throw resemble throwing dust or mud at the wall.
- Make sure that your elbows are more straight
- Ensure that your grip is lower on the axe.
- Lean forward as you release the axe and follow through continuing your hand motion down past your legs.
- Also, make sure that you take at the very least, a half-step towards the target.
To correct this, you may want to:
- Let loose a little on the grip
- Make sure that the axe blade is aiming straight at the target.
- Breathe in as you draw your axe back and breathe out as you release.
- Make sure that you flare your hands out as you throw the axe.
- Always ensure that your shoulders and hips remain square to the target board.
With that said, here are a few more pointers to help you throw your axe more correctly;
- Maintain a level-headed stance. What do I mean? Don’t lift any side of your head as you lift the axe. Instead, let your elbows hold the axe directly above your head. You want to make sure that you lock your elbows and rotate your shoulders.
- Make sure to practice as often as you can. It’ll help you build up muscle memory which will be great later on.
- Don’t flip/flick your wrist during release. It won’t spin the axe. Throw axes are different from splitting axes. They are designed to rotate naturally thanks to their shape. Focus on the throw and the axe will do the rest.
- Now that you are familiar with both axe-throwing techniques, let’s take a look at how you can perfect your throwing aim.
How to Line Up Your Axe Shots
I bet 100% you want to keep hitting the bullseye every time you throw your axe. While not impossible, it will require a bit of practice to get it right. You must be willing to abandon your old ways of throwing and be willing to adapt to a new technique that has the potential to advance your accuracy fast.
Make sure that the tip of the axe always lines up with the target. After a few throws, you will either hit the bull’s eye or you will hit lower or higher than the target. If the axe goes higher, adjust your aim and target a few inches lower, and vice-versa.
Always ensure that you keep your eye on the bullseye as you line up your shots.
The NATF (National Axe Throwing Federation) recommends that all throwing axes be lightweight and have a small blade and length.
Axe Throwing Tips
Believe it or not, axe throwing is one of the safest sports. It’s particularly because you are not running into or crashing into other players. It’s simply you & your competitor, in a controlled environment, throwing axes at a board.
Nevertheless, since it does involve sharp axes, precautions should be taken. Therefore, there are a few guidelines in place to follow. They include;
- Always make sure that you stand 12 feet away from the target. If there’s any chance that the axe bounces back, you want to be as far away as possible.
- Make sure that there’s no one between you and the board as you throw the axe.
- Ensure that there’s a 6-foot radius between you and other participants.
- Collect your blade once it rests on the board. If you are throwing simultaneously with a partner, make sure you throw and retrieve the axes at the same time.
- As soon as you are done throwing, return the axes to their holsters.
There you go! I believe that now you are better equipped on how to throw an axe after going through this guide. You can start with the two-handed axe throw before advancing to the one-hand technique.
With these tips and basic guidelines, you should be well on your way to making accurate shots. It’s only through practice and patience that you will be able to fully learn the skill.
Once you get into the groove of things, you might want to revisit some of these techniques and tips to help you improve your skill. As always, remember to always observe safety.
Which is the Best Way to Throw an Axe?
There are no “one-way fits all” to throwing an axe. It all depends on what’s comfortable for you. What works for you may not work for others. Therefore, take the time to experiment and practice with different techniques to find one that suits you.
How Can I Get Better at Axe Throwing?
Make sure you have a solid stance, maintain a consistent grip on your axe, and keep throws simple. You also want to make sure you are throwing from the 12 or 15 marker point. Lastly, use a sharp knife and keep your footing easy.
Is Chalking Necessary During Axe Throwing?
It’s not necessary. However, you will notice that at competitions, all the pros do it. Why? Chalking your hands ensures that your release remains smooth and doesn’t mess up with your throw. For pros, a slight delay in release due to sweat could mean the difference between hitting the target or not.
Is There a Trick to Axe Throwing?
Yes and no. Yes, because there are a few tried-and-tested techniques to ensure maximum accuracy per throw. And no, because everyone has their way of throwing based on body mechanics, experience, and athletic abilities.
How Do I Improve my Axe Throwing?
Practice makes perfect! I recommend trying out all the different techniques and settling on one that you like. Zero in on this particular technique and practice until you are good at it.
How Do You Throw an Axe at Home?
If you visit the WATL website, you’ll find all the requirements for building your DIY free-standing target. You must have access to an open area that’s big enough to fit the target. Specifically, it should be 4 feet wide and about 7 to 8 feet tall.