How to Score at Axe Throwing?

Updated on February 9, 2022 by

From urban bars’ recreation games to becoming internationally acclaimed sports, it was a long journey for axe throwing. Now, it is one of the most played target sports all over the United States. 

If you want to learn axe throwing merely to have fun, any throw that hits the target is more than good. However, for participating in official championships like US Arnold Classic, World Axe Throwing Championship, Winter League, etc., you need to know how to score axe throwing and be fairly good at the game. 

To assist you in this mission, here we will discuss the scoring system, rules, and techniques of axe throwing. Ready to have some fun? Let’s get straight into it. 

What Is Axe Throwing? 

Axe throwing is a very simple sport where two or more people compete by throwing an axe at a target, trying to reach as close as possible. Whoever hits the target more closely wins the game. 

Internationally, there are two most prominent leagues, namely, International Axe Throwing Federation or IATF and World Axe Throwing League or WATL. Both the leagues are pretty different from each other with their own set of rules. 

Also, the scoring system will be somewhat different depending on which league you’re going to play for. 

Rules and Scoring System of Axe Throwing 

Despite the differences between the leagues, there are some basic rules of axe throwing that include the type of axe and target, scoring system, different throwing styles, and several other factors. Let’s have a look at the required tools and some fundamental rules of the sport for a better understanding. 

The Axe 

For this game, you can’t use the regular axe you find in the hardware stores as they are meant for cutting the wood, not sticking on it. The axe used in international competition is a single hand axe – measuring at least 12 inches and weighing only 3 pounds maximum. 

It also features sharper blades having a maximum length of 4.75 inches. As for the handle, it can’t be longer than 19 inches. You’re allowed a handle made from wood, plastic, and even steel. 

For security, always try to bring an extra axe with you. If your axe is broken in the middle of the game, some leagues like WATL allow you only one minute to switch the axe. Otherwise, the score for the rest of the session is counted as zero. 

The Target 

Usually, targets are made from 4 feet long wooden boards with black, blue, or green circles drawn on them. Players have to throw the axes from a 12 feet distance from the targets. The number of circles or zones varies from league to league. If you live in a WATL sanctioned area, the targets will have five main zones and one extra zone. 

On the other hand, IATF targets have three main zones and one extra zone. Specific points have been fixed for each zone and you can score up to 6 points max with one throw. In the middle, you will see a red circle with a black outline. It is called ‘Bullseye’ and is assigned the highest 6 points. 

There are also two blue or green circles on the outer ring known as ‘Kill Shot.’ You can attempt a kill shot on your 5th or 10th throw for some extra points. In WATL leagues, the kill shots are worth 8 points. Some other leagues like IATF have designated 10 points for the kill shots. 

axe throwing target

Throwing 

There’s a golden rule of throwing axe; you throw together, and you retrieve together. After your opponent has thrown the axe, you get only ten seconds to throw yours. You can’t throw the axe when the other player is on the lane retrieving his or her axe. 

In a standard game, each of the players gets 10 throws. After 5 throws, the players have to switch their sides. If you’re playing for the first time, you might be allowed 5 warm-up throws. In any subsequent games, you will be allowed one practice throw only. 

You can throw the axe in 2 ways:

  • One-handed throwing: In this method, you need to bring the axe at shoulder level while the axe’s blade is facing the target. Then, use only one hand to release the axe, just like a dart. 
  • Two-handed throwing: Here, you grip the axe with both your hands and bring it over your head. Pull the axe in a forward motion and release it like a soccer ball when the axe is in line with the target. 

The Scoring System 

In a single match, you can score a maximum of 64 points, including the 16 points that you achieve from two kill shots. Players go one-on-one to compete, and whoever earns the highest score after ten throws is the winner. 

For determining the score, you must not remove the axe before checking where the axe hits the target. You only score when your axe breaks the paint of the circles. 

As you already know, the WATL target has 5 rings, including the bullseye in the middle. Here’s how you score depending on where your axe lands and sticks:

  • If your axe strikes the bullseye, you score 6 points. 
  • If your axe strikes the area between the first ring and bullseye, you score 5 points. 
  • If your axe strikes the second ring area, you score 4 points. 
  • If your axe strikes the third ring area, you score 3 points. 
  • If your axe strikes the fourth ring area, you score 2 points. 
  • If your axe strikes the fifth ring area (except for the kill shots), you score 1 point. 
  • If your axe strikes the kill shots, you score 8 points. 
  • If your axe hits two or three rings at a time, you get the points designated to the higher valued ring. For instance, if your axe hits the bullseye, the first ring, and the second ring, you receive the 6 points designated to the bullseye. 

No Score 

There are a few events when you might score zero with a throw. Some of those includes:

  • Completely missing the target 
  • Crossing the 12 feet line while throwing 
  • When you call a kill shot and miss it 
  • If your axe lands but doesn’t stick to the target 
  • In case your axe hits the target but falls before you retrieve it 
  • When you throw without the indication of the game referee 

Tiebreaker 

In case both the participants score the same after 10 throws, each of them has to make one more throw to break the tie. The throw is called ‘Sudden Death,’ and you can go only for the kill shots. Whoever throws nearer to the kill shot wins the match. 

Final Words 

That was pretty much everything on how to score axe throwing. Although the scores might vary depending on the league you’re playing for, the basic rules and setup are the same for any game of axe throwing. 

Achieving accuracy in the game is pretty easy, and after some practice, you’ll be able to throw like a pro. So, wave off your worries and step up for some fun with axe throwing. 


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Michael Culligan

I am a lumber worker who performs logging services for the forestry industry. I have spent years honing my skills and experience to become a well-rounded axeman. I'm exited to share my knowledge of axes and lumber tools with everyone to help.