Helpful Tips

How to Throw an Axe: Best Axe Throwing Technique for 2020

lumberjack with axe

Learning how to throw an axe takes practice, patience, skill, and throwing precision. In this guide, I’ll go over the basics of axe throwing, how you can improve your throwing precision, and what techniques you can try that will improve your chances of hitting the bull each and every time.

I’ll also go over how each of these techniques can be used to improve your throwing power, and the effects each type of technique will have on your throwing quality.

Setup

The distance between the line from which you’ll throw and the target will be fifteen feet. You can create this setup for your practice area at home, marking off the starting line and setting up a thick wooden target.

One foot should be kept fully behind the line at all times. It doesn’t matter where you place the other foot in relation to the line, just as long as you keep one foot behind the line at all times. The other foot is allowed to go forward as far as you need, or you can have one foot behind the line with the other foot behind that one. The point is to ensure at least one foot is behind the line and that you use a stance that feels comfortable to you.

Try experimenting a little in order to find a position that will work the best for you.

Throwing Techniques

While there are many different types of axe throwing techniques you can try, there are a couple of basic ones that are used the most often in axe throwing competitions; the one handed throw and the two-handed throw.

Two-Handed Throw

Many beginners will start off by learning this throwing technique first.

To begin, you’ll take your position at the throwing line, placing one of your feet behind it. Using one hand, grab hold of the axe at the bottom of the handle, then fold your other hand over the hand that’s gripping the handle.

Next, you’ll line up your shot.

Using one fluid motion, take a step forward as you lift the axe above your head and throw it. The movement must be smooth, as should your follow through. Make sure that you keep your body and arms moving in the same direction once you have released the axe. At the same time you will need to keep your eyes on the target.

You can also try placing your second hand above the first on the handle instead of folding one hand over the other. For some throwers, this type of grip will be more comfortable.

When you hold the axe, it may feel good to stick your thumbs out, placing them parallel to the handle, but you’ll want to avoid doing this since it can have a negative impact on your aim. Instead, try folding your thumbs over your fist.

When you’re lifting the axe, avoid lifting it to either side of your head. Instead, lift the elbows which will cause the axe to be raised above your head. Your elbows should be kept locked as you rotate your shoulders. Doing this will create an exaggerated half circle above your head.

Try practicing this move above your head before you take a throw and make sure that you stop the movement where you first begin. Avoid stopping the movement higher or further down since it can ruin your aim. If done repeatedly, muscle memory will start kicking in so you’ll always know the release point.

Wrist Movement

axe target shooting

Many beginners make the mistake of flicking their wrist at the point of release, in order to attempt to spin the axe. Avoid flicking your wrists and keep them locked in a straight position instead. An axe naturally rotates because of its shape.

You’ll also come across some variations of the two-handed throw. The main style is one that involves not moving your feet or stepping forward when throwing. If you want to try this technique, the starting position will be different from the one in which you begin by taking a step forward.

If you’re new to axe throwing then it will be easier to begin practicing using the two-handed throw that doesn’t require you to step forward, but instead, you’ll stand still with one foot kept behind the throwing line.

Starting out this way will allow you to get a feel for how the axe rotates, how it slides out of the hand, and how it feels. Once you’re able to get the axe to repeatedly stick to the board by throwing it in this stationary position using both hands, then you can begin to experiment with taking a step forward or switching to the one hand throw to determine which technique will work the best for you.

One Handed Throw

Using one hand to throw an axe is pretty basic, however, it will also take a little more strength to do. The steps you need to use to make this type of throw are the same as the steps you’ll use for the basic two-handed throw, although, you’ll probably need to change your stance slightly.

When you begin learning how to throw an axe, I recommend using the two-handed approach first in order to get a feel for how your arms move and the motions you need to use to hit the bull.

When you make the switch to using just one hand to throw, you’ll focus on using the same type of motion, bringing your elbow and arm straight above your head instead of swinging out. This motion will ensure that the axe goes in the direction you want it to.

Throwing with one hand can be done from a stationary position or you can take one step forward as you throw. Some throwers will take several steps forward, however, that technique is very difficult to master and shouldn’t be attempted by the beginner.

If you normally throw using your right hand, then you should place your right foot forward. This helps to balance the torso, allowing the thrower to make a more controlled throw.

Chalk Use

Chalk is used on the hands to prevent the axe from slipping when you reach the release point. While you don’t have to chalk up your hands, it does wonders for your grip and can significantly improve your chances of hitting the bull.

If you don’t want to use chalk, then make sure that the axe handle and both of your hands are totally dry. This can be done by wiping the handle and your hands on a clean cloth before you throw. Even the tiniest bit of moisture on the handle or hands can prevent the axe from smoothly sliding out of your hands.

In the beginning, if you end up totally missing the target, then chances are you’re not releasing it at the correct time. Try to focus on allowing the axe to naturally slide out of your hand, even if you don’t use chalk.

Releasing the axe is achieved by the momentum and weight of the axe. If done correctly, you’ll notice a very specific sound as the axe slides out of your hand. If you hear a noise during this time, then you’ll know that you’re releasing the axe correctly.

Lining Up a Shot

axe aimed at a target

In order to line up a shot, the top blunt side of an axe should be lined up with where you need the axe to go. After several throws, you may find that it goes lower or higher than where you lined it up. If that’s the case, line up your shot accordingly. If the axe is going higher than where you need it to, then correct this by aiming slightly lower. It’s important to always have one eye on the target, throughout the throw.

If the axe is released too early, there will not be enough spin. There may be too much spin if the axe is released too late. The level of spin can also depend on how far away you’re standing from the target.

How to Adjust Your Throw

If you’re having trouble getting the axe to stick in the target, then you need to make some adjustments to your throw. If the axe hits the board with the top of the axe then you’ll need to move forward approximately six inches. This causes the axe to hit the target sooner and with the edge of the axe instead of the top. If the handle is hitting the board at the same time as the head, causing the axe to bounce off, then you’ll need to move back six inches. This causes the axe to rotate more before it hits the target.

For either throwing issue you may need to move backward or forward more than six inches. During this time try experimenting with different positions and find a spot that will work the best for you.

You can also try gripping the axe a little lower or higher. When you grip it higher this can have the same effect as taking steps forward. Holding it in a lower position can have the same effect as taking a couple of steps back.

Blade Doesn’t Stick in Target

Axes tend to stick better in chewed up older boards than they do in new boards. If you’re having trouble getting the blade to stick in your new board, there are a couple of things you can try.

First, make sure you properly wet the new board. Most axe throwing venues will always keep spray bottles on deck so you can use it to wet the board down. Make sure the board is completely drenched before you throw. This can make it much easier for the blade to stick.

Next, try moving back a little from your usual starting position and use some more rotation on the axe. If the axe usually hits the board with the full blade, taking a few steps back can add some rotation, allowing the axe to hit the board at the upper sharp tip. This will increase your chances of the blade penetrating the board.

You should also be sure that your axe is nice and sharp before every throwing session.

Practice

Like with any sport, if you want to get better at throwing your axe, you need to practice. If you’re tight on time, shoot for at least twenty minutes a day. Ideally, you should choose a time of day when you’re not exhausted. Fatigue can have a major impact on the quality and accuracy of your throw.

If you’re training for an upcoming axe throwing competition, then you’ll need to step up how much time you dedicate to practicing every day.

Remember, it will take practice and patience to hone your axe throwing skills, so try not to get too discouraged if you’re not able to make it close to the bull when you throw.

Axe Types

Choose a throwing axe that will work for you based on your strength, skill, and physical ability. Choosing a model that’s too heavy or too light can be very dangerous since it will impact your ability to control the direction of the axe and how much force you use when throwing it. If you’re not sure what type of axe to use, then hit up an axe throwing forum or speak with friends who have this type of experience.

Throwing Safety

When you’re throwing an axe, safety will be the number one priority. Make sure that before you begin throwing that there is no one standing between the target and you. In fact, you’ll want to avoid having anyone in the immediate area, since an unskilled thrower will not be very good at controlling the direction of the axe. At the very least, keep a minimum of six feet of space around you and other people. If you’re throwing with a partner or you’re throwing at a venue, make sure you and the other throwers are retrieving your axes at the same time.

Final Thoughts on How to Throw an Axe

Learning throwing an axe can be a fun and exciting adventure, especially if you have a goal of entering an axe throwing competition. The throwing techniques that I’ve included here are fairly basic, but even these basic throws will require plenty of practice and dedication, if you want to end up hitting the bull every time. Remember, there are many variations to these throws, so it will be important for you to choose a technique that you’re comfortable with and one that can significantly improve your accuracy as you throw.