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Sport of Axe Throwing, Then & Now

Updated: Jun 20

The Fascinating Journey of Axe Throwing as a Sport


Hey there, axe enthusiasts and curious minds! Ready to dive into the world of axe throwing? This isn't just about lumberjacks and wild frontier tales. Axe throwing has morphed into a modern sport with a rich history that spans continents and centuries. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and let's chop into the history of axe throwing as a sport.

Ancient Beginnings: Axes as Tools and Weapons

Axes have been around since the Stone Age, originally crafted as simple stone tools without handles​​​​. These early axes were vital for survival, used for chopping wood, hunting, and protection.

Fast forward to 400-500 AD, and we see the emergence of axes specifically designed for throwing, notably the Francisca axe used by the Franks and other Germanic tribes​​​​. This axe, with its unpredictable flight pattern, was not only a weapon but also a psychological tool in warfare.

Medieval Times: From Warfare to Sport

The Middle Ages brought a variety of throwing axes into the fray, primarily in Europe. While some historians argue that throwing away a weapon in battle was impractical, others believe it was a tactic to disrupt enemy lines before close combat​​. Beyond the battlefield, axes became part of local traditions and games, possibly marking the earliest instances of competitive axe throwing.

The New World: Frontiersmen and Lumberjacks

When Europeans colonized North America, they brought their axes along. The tomahawk, a versatile tool and weapon, became synonymous with Native American tribes and later frontiersmen. Legends speak of early axe throwing competitions among North American frontiersmen, blending skill and entertainment​​​​.

By the 1800s, axe throwing had cemented its place in lumberjack competitions. These rugged individuals, spending their lives in forests, naturally turned to their trusty axes for friendly contests of skill during downtime​​​​.

Modern Revival: From Backyard Fun to Urban Craze

The modern era of axe throwing as a sport can be traced back to a rainy day in 2006 when Matt Wilson, a former bartender, and his friends started throwing axes for fun in a backyard in Ontario, Canada​​​​. This humble beginning led to the formation of the Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL), which evolved into the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF) in 2016, now known as the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF)​​.

Around the same time, the World Axe Throwing League (WATL) was founded, further promoting the sport globally. Axe throwing clubs and bars began popping up in cities across the world, from New York to Sydney, transforming a backyard pastime into an urban sensation​​​​.

The Competitive Scene: Leagues and Championships

Today, axe throwing is a full-fledged competitive sport with standardized rules and international championships. The IATF and WATL have set the stage for a structured competitive environment, each with its own set of rules and scoring systems​​. These leagues host events that attract thousands of participants and even garner media coverage, such as the World Axe Throwing Championship broadcast on ESPN​​.

Why the Craze? The Appeal of Axe Throwing

Why has axe throwing become so popular? It's simple yet thrilling, accessible to all skill levels, and offers a unique blend of physical activity and social interaction. It's a fantastic stress reliever and a fun way to spend time with friends or family. Plus, who doesn't want to channel their inner Viking or lumberjack once in a while?​​.


Axe throwing has journeyed from ancient tool use to a modern sport enjoyed by many. Whether you're a history buff, a competitive athlete, or just looking for a new hobby, the world of axe throwing has something to offer. So, why not give it a throw? You might just find yourself hooked on this age-old sport with a contemporary twist.

Ready to pick up an axe and join the fun? Find your nearest axe throwing venue and let the games begin!

Coming Soon! The Rise of the Axe House: From backyard horsing around to Booming Business.


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