Axe Throwing: How it Started and Which Axes to Throw
January 14, 20214 min read
Whether you’re trying to keep your homestead warm during the winter, cooking while enjoying our breathtaking wilderness, or sinking a blade in a target for sport... the folks at Kent of Inglewood have you covered for axes and hatchets.
A (very) brief history
Throwing axes and hatchets for sport is certainly nothing new. What’s new and exciting is the ever growing and evolving sport of urban axe throwing which has taken the world by storm in the last decade or so. Axe throwing has evolved from specialized sports like The Lumberjack Games, and has shrunk it to fit within a small arena. These arenas are usually found in the industrial parts of most urban centres, making axe throwing accessible to folks from all walks of life.
What started it all was a motorcycle loving bartender from Toronto, who would gather his pals in a small backyard on College Street back in 2006. It was dubbed the “Backyard Axe Throwing League” or “BATL” for short. It was there they would enjoy a few beverages while trying to rack up points by hurling 1.5lb camp hatchets at a sketchy setup of 2x10 SPF(Spruce/Pine/Fir) lumber against a single opponent.
This quickly became a weekly hangout for a growing number of people, which eventually out grew the backyard and moved indoors. Soon enough it was opened to the public for private events and team building. Then one indoor location became two indoor locations, and the number of “leagues” multiplied. Then there were three locations, and on and on. The growth of BATL hasn’t slowed down since.
Eventually, there would be enough leagues, each crowning a season champion five times per year, that a tournament of champions was born. It was dubbed the “Champ’s League.” The Champions League eventually got to be too big, and other axe-throwing venues were popping up all over. This spawned the idea of a standardization of the rules, and thus the International Axe Throwing Federation was founded. As a result, the Champion’s League changed its name to the International Axe Throwing Championship in 2017 and the winner of the first IATC took home $1,000 cash. To illustrate just how much the sport has grown, the first-place winner in February 2020 took home a record $20,000 grand prize in a 256-person, double-elimination bracket.
Our resident axe-throwing champ, Sean Coutts
At Kent of Inglewood we’re big fans of axe throwing, and we even have a pro in our midsts at the Ottawa shop. Sean Coutts has been competing in the sport of Axe Throwing since 2015. On top of his experience as a coach and league runner, he’s also an internationally ranked league member in the IATF with seven local titles, not to mention he’s a two-time East Regional competitor, two-time International Axe Throwing Championship competitor, and has various Winter/Summer “Skillz” competitions and sanctioned IATF competitions under his belt. He has traveled to Montreal, Toronto and Philadelphia to compete. At his home venue in Ottawa, he also invented a well-known trick shot dubbed “The Wolverine.”
We sell two different axes at Kent of Inglewood that Sean agrees are perfect for throwing:
This little guy is an excellent introduction to the world of axe throwing, and it’s almost identical to the hatchet that started it all. The head weight is 1.5lbs with a 14” Hickory handle. This is a very standard camp hatchet that would be great for any job, but it’s perfect for throwing because it meets all standards set by the International Axe Throwing Federation.
But why exactly is this axe perfect for throwing? When you throw, you want to land toe-first. The handle should be at about a 45degree angle when stuck in the board. The toe will be the smallest(and sharpest) part of the bit which, upon impact, will break the surface of the target and allow the rest of the hatchet to follow it into the board. The head on this axe is very similar to a "yankee pattern" axe which gives you a very pronounced toe and heel. Why does the sharpness of the heel matter? Well, sometimes things go wrong during a throw, and it’s good to have that extra security in case you have a slight under-rotation. This hatchet will get you started, and treat you well for a long time to come.
The growing popularity of axe throwing has grabbed the attention of a few renowned manufacturers, one of them being Council Tool. We’ve carried Council Tool products for a while here at Kent of Inglewood, but this new axe is different from what we’re used to. This hatchet comes from their Sport Utility line and is the first hatchet to be produced by Council Tool specifically for the axe throwing community.
The head weight is a slightly beefier 1.6lbs which gives it a little more punch into the target, and the handle is 16” long which caters to more throwers. Some like a longer handle and some like a shorter handle(Minimum 13”, maximum 17” as per IATF regulations.) This allows for customization for more throwers, as it’s easy to chop the haft down to suit your throw style.
These hatchets are throw-ready right out of the box! The profile is super thin, which will make sticking into hard and sappy boards a breeze, while allowing throwers of all strength levels an even playing field. The fit and finish on these hatchets is incredible, with a silky smooth haft, hefty palm swell, and index grooves inside the eye which help prevent haft migration (loose handles, in plain English).
Love the sound of this axe, but not into throwing your tools around? Fear not, this is still a phenomenal hatchet to have in your collection, and will make short work of any carving or feather sticking tasks you have waiting for it.
So there you have it, a beginner's intro to the wide world of axe throwing! We also sharpen throwing axes at Kent of Inglewood, and if you ever have a question for Sean, just pop it in the chat box on our site and he'll get back to you!