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Axe throwing rules: All that you need to know about axe throwing

Axe throwing is an old sport which was first evolved by Franks as Francisca in 3rd century AD. After the franks it was also played by the Germans followed by Anglo Saxons. But, the sport lost its charm in the upcoming years and was totally forgotten by the next generations. 

The sport was revived and given a new lease by Canada. Its current status as indoor recreational activity began in canada. Matt Wilson, inspired by the recreational activity of throwing an axe at a tree while having some beer, established the Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) in 2006. The National Axe Throwing Federation was established by Wilson in 2016. The sports kept on growing and it took over the USA also. 

The World Axe throwing League was established in 2017 by members like Canada, USA, Brazil, and 19 other members. So, let us learn more in detail about the axe throwing rules that a person should follow. 

Axe throwing rules that you should follow

Here is the list of axe throwing rules and regulations that you should follow. These rules and regulations are decided by the World Axe Throwing League (WATL). 

  • Code of Conduct
  • Game play rules

Code of conduct

The mission of the world axe throwing league is to promote and play the sport via sportsmanship and fair play. Although the competition becomes intense the axe throwing rules and regulations ensure that the sport is played with high quality of sportsmanship and fair play. Here is the code of conduct that the players should follow while participating in an axe throwing competition. 

  • The players should respect the game, follow all the rules and policies and play fairly. 
  • Demonstrate good sportsmanship before, during, and after games whether the player wins or loses.
  • Accept and respect the decisions of WATL judges and personnel. 
  • Take responsibility for the sportsmanship of the teammates and assist in maintaining a good code of conduct for all the participants.
  • Help in maintaining all the equipment at the facility in good condition. 
  • Be courteous to all the opposite team members, throwers, officials, spectators, monitors or facilitators and maintain the dignity of all the WATL officials.
  • Obey all the facility rules while respecting all common areas, play areas, parking areas, and surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Not to engage in discriminating behavior based on race, gender, religion, creed, language, or sexual identity.
  • Refrain from using abusive language or profanity including contemptous, discriminating, or derogatory words or actions concerning race, language, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. 
  • Not engage in any behavior that would endanger the health and safety of the player and other personnels on the facility.
  • Should not give any verbal or non-verbal intimidation or threats to anyone. 
  • Should not use alcohol beverages at any location unless and until permitted by the facility.
  • Not use or encourage illegal drugs at any location.
  • Wear or use all required equipments or uniform. 
  • Live targets are not allowed under any circumstances. No player should throw the axe while there is a live person in between the thrower and the target. 


In sports, judges make the decision based on their own judgment. As a result, there are chances that a dispute may occur. It is very important that the participants respect all the judges’ decisions and take the dispute in a constructive way rather than taking it in a wrong manner. WATL has the sole right to investigate all evidence to maintain the integrity of the play and the organization. Any player having any grievances against any judgment or another player should write to the WATL organization via an email.

Any behavior that is deemed inappropriate by the WATL officials, judges, or other members may be given a verbal warning, ejection, suspension, or expulsion from the game. Any player or team found doing repeated misdemeanor will be expelled from the WATL sponsored tournament without refund.

Disciplinary actions

All violations of code of conduct during and outside of matches will result in WATL taking disciplinary action against the player. The disciplinary action by the presiding officer will be issued in the following manner.

  • The offending thrower will first receive a verbal warning
  • If the offense occurs for the second time by the same player, then the player’s recent match points will be brought to zero and he or she will lose the match.
  • Upon a third offense by the same player, the offending player will be suspended from the current season or tournament. 

WATL reserves the right to suspend a thrower or spectator for a minimum 

of 6 months. 

Axe throwing rules for safety

The Axe throwing safety rules has many parts and portions that you must look through. Here are the things that you should look into. 


  • Axes may be inspected by an official at any time.
  • Axes that do not adhere to WATL rules or are broken may not be used.
  • Participants should grip the axes by their handles. 
  • If the axe breaks or if a person would like to switch axes then he or she should notify the preceding official and switch the axe within one minute.
  • Any throwers throwing restricted axes in WATL will face violation of the code of conduct.


  • If the player is injured and it results in the pause of the play then the player should be immediately assessed by the preceding judge and an onsite medical personnel. After assessment if the player is fit to continue the match then the match should be continued. 
  • If a player is injured during a league and unable to finish the following matches then he or she can make up their matches in the following league night without any penalty.
  • When a player does not complete the match then the make up match will restart from throw one and the players points will be zero. 

Axe throwing rules

  • As mentioned above in the code of conduct, you should never throw an axe when another player is removing the axe from the board or when a judge is in the lane to assess the points. There are chances of hurting them and this will result in immediate disqualification from the game.

All the spectators should be standing in the corner or should be at a distance of 5ft from the player who is throwing the axe to avoid the chances of injury.

Here are some of the interesting axe throwing rules that you should follow.

Pre-games rules

The pre-game rules are very important in an axe throwing game. So, let us have a look at the pre-game rules that are to be followed

Minimum age

WATL does not enforce any age limit. Each location affiliated with WATL is allowed to have their own age limit if they want to do so. You need to contact the local participating league to enquire about the age rules and regulations. Throwers under the age of 18 are allowed to select and name a representative on their behalf if they wish to do so. The representative is only able to challenge the calls on the players behalf and he or she should be aware of all the rules and regulations of the game that are to be followed. 

Axe throwing target quality

  • The target should be of sound quality before the game starts.
  • All the boards must be individually secured and the board should not slide down or shift up while playing the game.
  • Before the start of the match the target boards should be switched if the boards have deteriorated to the extent that excessive movement or wriggling of axes occur when they land on the particular point of the board or lines of scoring areas are missing significant gaps or if the target rings become larger or smaller by more than half an inch.
  • If a board has deteriorated during a match, the thrower may request an evaluation by the judge and if the boards are evaluated as excessively deteriorated, then the judge may allow change of lanes and if that is not available then the board is changed. But during this process the players are not granted the practice throw.
  • Violation of any of these rules may result in violation of code of conduct.

Warm-up throws

The number of warm up throws applies to all WATL approved organizations and bars. 

  • Players may have upto 5 practice throws before their first match.
  • Players will get 1 practice throw before any subsequent match.
  • The players may have 1 practice throw between match games in case of best 2 out of 3 match set.
  • During leagues, practice or warm-up areas may be offered to players at the discretion of the venue as long as best efforts are made to make it available to all the throwers. 

The presiding official will notify the players when their match will commence.


  • Each match is played against different opponents. The opponents can be selected via the WATL app and consists of 10 throws per match. In each match players will take 5 throws and then switch sides, which ensures fair play when there are varying densities of wood.
  • Each league week allows every participant 4 matches.
  • Starting targets will be defined by random selection initially made by the app.
  • The WATL players are allowed to throw axes in any one of the following two ways.
  • 1 hand holding the axe in an overhand or underhand position with the axe facing the target.
  • 2 hands holding the axe with the blade facing the target before release.
  • The axe must make approximately one rotation for the throw to count.
  • One foot must be on the floor while the axe is thrown.
  • A fault occurs when the player’s foot crosses the 12ft fault line or any other part of the body of the player touches any part of the lane, equipment or building past the 12ft fault line and towards the target. 
  • You can only throw the axe after you receive the signal of open lane from the presiding judge.
  • Throws must be taken within 10 seconds of each other.
  • If a fault occurs, the throw will be marked as a fault in the app and you will not get any score for that throw in the app.
  • If a player calls for a second opinion, both players must return behind the 12ft lane till the second judge announces his opinion. If a player touches his axe before the second judge announces the result, then it will be considered a fault on the players part and the original score by the first judge stands.
  • Throwers can only take part in 8 single thrower matches. If a player wants to play more than 8 matches then he or she should take permission from WATL by writing or via email. If a player plays more than 8 single throw matches in a league without prior permission, then all his points will be forfeited and will be considered a zero.
  • All scores must be uploaded in the WATL App in real time and should be uploaded to the leaderboard. If there is a connectivity issue, then you get 48 hours to upload the scores. But, even then if the problem persists then the venue must contact WATL for guidance.
  • After 7 weeks, the 8th is the final week when the season’s local champion is declared.
  • Each official league run by a venue is self-contained and could not be merged with other venues.
  • A presiding official might announce a pause in play whenever it is deemed necessary. At that time all the matches must be paused and should be started only at the discretion of the presiding official.
  • For people who use wheelchairs all the rules remain the same except the 12ft fault line rule. Individuals in wheelchairs must have one wheel behind the fault line. It does not matter whichever wheel is behind the faultline.


Each individual match consists of 10 throws. The black line awards points associated with the ring. These points are as follows

Axe throwing rules: All that you need to know about axe throwing
axe throwing score
  • 1 point for the 5th ring
  • 2 points for the 4th ring
  • 3 points for the 3rd ring
  • 4 points for the 4th outermost ring
  • 5 points for the 5th outermost ring
  • 6 points for the bullseye
  • 8 points for the kill shots when activated and hit.

The kill shot

  • The kill shots are active for any throw during the ten throws. Before throwing for the kill shot, the player must make it clear to the judge and his opponent that he or she intends to go for the kill shot. The call must be made to the judge before either opponent throws. This is known as calling the kill shot and the shot is activated for a full 8 points. The player cannot change their decision once the judge confirms the intent to use the kill shot. During a match both the players can attempt upto two kill shots.
  • The killshot cannot be attempted again until the opposite kill shot is hit.
  • A killshot does not reset until
  1. The opposite killshot is hit
  2. The game enters into sudden death
  3. The game is completed.
  • A judge must remind the player on which killshot they had hit on previously, if the kill shot is hit.
  • The players should also confirm with the judge which kill shot is open when a previous kill shot is hit.
  • If there is a drop during any throw. The players can go for the 3rd attempt of the kill shot. But, the drop should be recorded properly in the app.

Sudden death

  • In the event of a tie after 10 throws, the game enters sudden death. Points are not tallied or counted during this and only kill shots are active during sudden death throws. 
  • Players will remain at their position during the sudden death throws.
  • If all players hit the kill shot, an additional sudden death throw is required and the player must again go through the process of hitting the kill shot.
  • If both the players miss the kill shot during sudden death, then with the help of an accurate measuring device, the distance is measured with the closest valid scoring area. 
  • If measurements are inconclusive resulting in a tie then the players must go for another kill shot. 
  • The player with the shortest distance will be awarded the match.
  • If player 1 has an axe that has dropped and player 2 misses the kill shot but the axe is on the board, then player 2 will be awarded the match. 
  • If a player touches their axe before the measurement is done, then the match is awarded to the opposite player.

So, these are some of the detailed axe throwing rules and regulations. If you know of anything else please do let us know in the comments section below.


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Ava Brown
Ava Brown is a dedicated sports writer who skillfully captures the excitement and passion of the athletic world. Her insightful articles for Sportycious provide readers with a unique perspective on various sports disciplines. When she isn't crafting captivating content, Ava enjoys cheering on her favourite teams and actively participating in sports herself.

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