Each year axe throwing grows in popularity in the United States and Western countries around the world. It’s a fun sport that offers an excellent upper body workout. But the thought of axe tossing may sound intimidating if you haven’t tried it before.

To help you out, we’ve created this ultimate guide on how to throw an axe. It’s ideal for beginners, but we’ve thrown in some advanced tips as well for anyone wanting to take their tossing game up a notch.

How to grip a throwing axe

Before you even consider throwing an axe, start by getting the grip right. Holding an axe the wrong way means you’re likely to release it at the wrong point, resulting in vertical inaccuracy. Controlling spin speed and tilt will also be a challenge.

Beginners should hold the axe in two hands with the dominant hand at the base and non-dominant hand directly above. Both thumbs should be pointing straight up. Aim the axe blade directly at the target during the entire motion.

Although fast throwers hold their axe tightly, it’s best to use a lighter grip when starting out. This will allow for a more finessed toss that’s accurate and forgiving of technical errors.

How to throw an axe

The easiest way for a beginner to throw an axe is double handed over the head. For the more advanced, try throwing one handed over the shoulder or use the underhand method. No matter what technique you use, 12 feet must be maintained between the target and your back foot.

1. Two handed throw over the head

Gripping the axe with two hands requires less strength and is easier to throw accurately. Follow these steps for the perfect toss.

  1. Hold the axe handle with both hands and position your left leg in front of the throwing line if you’re right-handed.  
  2. Line up the axe with the target. Rock forward then rock backward, swinging the axe directly behind your head.
  3. Swing forward smoothly, releasing the axe when it is at eye level.    

2. One handed throw over the shoulder

Intermediate and advanced axe throwers may prefer using one hand and chucking the axe over the shoulder. With this method, you can step into the throw or keep the feet stationary.  

  1. Hold the axe handle with your dominant hand, making sure not to hold it too tightly. 
  2. Rotate the axe backward so that it almost touches the shoulder. It should also come close to your ear.
  3. Swing forward, releasing the axe when the handle is straight. Make a mental note of how accurate the throw was, then adjust your next throw for better accuracy. 

3. Underhand throw

  1. Hold the end on the axe handle with a relaxed grip using the dominant hand. The blade should be facing the target.
  2. Swing the axe backward until it is parallel with the floor, then step forward with the non-dominant foot.
  3. Release the handle when the handle is in line with the ground again. In other words, the axe should swing 180 degrees before release.

How to aim a throwing axe

You’ll get the best accuracy by lining the axe tip with the target. Keep your eyes focused on the bull’s eye throughout the throw. After several throws, evaluate throw accuracy and adjust your aim to improve your throwing style.

  • If the axe often strikes higher than your aim, then lower the aim a few inches.
  • If the axe doesn’t rotate enough, try to release it a little later or move back from the target.

Keep in mind that left to right accuracy is much more important than vertical. If the blade lands a fraction to the left or right of a circle then you’ve missed; vertically, the blade covers a much bigger area so there’s room for some inaccuracy.

How to release the axe

It is best to release the axe when it’s in front of your face. As the axe releases, follow through with your arms so that they end up behind your back. When starting out, don’t think about using your wrists to flick the axe – this is an advanced technique for improved power and rotation.

Axe throwing safety

Axe throwing may sound dangerous, but when the rules are followed it is one of the safest sports you can take part in. There is no physical contact, big falls, and no sticks or balls in your vicinity. However, axes are sharp and need to be safety guidelines should always be respected.

Before throwing, always check the condition of your axes. Make sure there are no cracks and ensure the axe head is attached securely to the handle.    

Save lane sharing for bowling, making sure that every player has their own lane. More than one person in a lane increases the chance of injury or worse.

Respect axes. They can cause serious injury, so avoid doing stupid things like doing a spin before throwing. Save the trick shots for 8-Ball. Check out our axe throwing safety guide for more details.

Do I need to use chalk?

Advanced throwers in competitions use chalk on their hands to reduce friction, resulting in a smoother throw. If you want to use it, apply chalk to the palms, especially around the area where your fingers and thumb start.   

Should I use an axe or a tomahawk for throwing?

Tomahawks were designed for throwing while Western-style hatchets were made for chopping. Throwing centers mostly use hatchets, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best for throwing. The best option comes down to personal preference, but keep in mind a tomahawk has a rounder eye design and a longer handle

Summing up

Learning to throw an axe is great fun and a solid workout. Like any sport, it’ll take time to develop a technique that produces consistent results. Remember to experiment with your throwing style but try to keep it simple. Adding complex motions is likely to reduce your accuracy.

When you’re ready to up your game, check out our axe throwing tips. This tutorial is loaded with helpful advice to improve your toss and includes a troubleshooting guide that addresses common faults. If you’re looking to compete in a league, be sure to read our guide to becoming a champion axe thrower.

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