Axe stuck in a target

The History of Axe Throwing—and the Secret Behind Its Popularity

Heber HatchetsHeber's Man Blog

The weekend is approaching, and you’re tired of the same old dinner-and-Netflix-binge routine. In that case, why not head into town for a night of axe throwing?

The sport (and yes, axe throwing is a sport) has blown up over the past few years and is now as commonplace in a New York City bar as at a backwoods lumberjack competition. 

So what’s the deal? Why is axe throwing popular? Let’s look at the history of axe throwing and see how it rose to fame in our current day.

Evolution of Axes

Axes have gone from being a useful tool or a weapon of war to being more like a soccer ball—okay, well, they’re still technically weapons, but we’ve found a more fun way to use them. 

Back in the era of cavemen, axes were made of sharpened rocks. In fact, it was a while before the axe got its wooden handle. Axes were mostly used for cutting and defense. 

Of course, once metals were discovered, the axe was refined into its more familiar form.

The History of Axe Throwing and When It Became a Sport

People have used throwing axes as a weapon and tool since ancient times—a Germanic tribe known as the Franks threw Francisca axes in battle during the Middle Ages. 

Algonquian tribes of North America used stone tomahawks as a weapon well before European colonizers landed on the continent’s shores. Once colonizers arrived, the tribes created iron tomahawk heads by getting iron through trade

Still, the use of axes in ancient times is a far cry from the friendly sport it is today. Those guys were more interested in using their axes to hunt food or kill their opponents—not for fun

So, where did axe throwing originate? The purpose of axe throwing changed when lumberjacks across the United States and Canada started challenging each other after work with their axes because they were bored (valid—we do the same). 

Modern Axe-Throwing Origins

Modern axe throwing has pretty close ties to the original logger sports. In 2006, a group of friends were bored at a cottage in Canada. To alleviate that boredom, they decided to throw an axe at a stump just like their lumberjack forefathers. 

As other axe throwers began to join in, the game became a full-fledged sport. Matt Wilson, one of the original members of that group, enjoyed the activity so much that he later hosted competitions in his backyard and became the founder of the Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL). He created the rules for modern axe throwing, taking inspiration from sports like tennis. 

Now, it has taken over the world—there’s even an established International Axe Throwing Federation.

Luckily, you don’t have to travel the world to throw axes. There are Heber Hatchet locations in Utah, Idaho, and Washington. Don’t worry! You don’t have to be a professional (or a lumberjack) to throw axes. It’s similar to darts—aim, throw, and hope you score the highest points…but with axes. 

Modern Axe Throwing Leagues

Modern axe throwing may have its roots in Canada, but today the sport is international. Axethrowing clubs have spread across the world, becoming popular in every city from Bangkok to Sydney.

International Axe Throwing Federation

Because of the popularity of axe throwing, the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) was established in 2016 to create standardized rules across the continents. IATF has more than 20,000 members spanning 150 cities and eight countries. 

World Axe Throwing League

The World Axe Throwing League (WATL) has a similar mission to IAFT. WATL founded International Axe Throwing Day, which is on June 13. They also hosted the first World Axe Throwing Championship at Bad Axe Throwing Club in Chicago in 2018. 

ESPN even aired this monumental tournament, which is perhaps one of the biggest markers of the sport’s popularity.

Backyard Axe Throwing League 

Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) membership lasts for seven weeks each season, with six seasons a year. Membership offers plenty of perks, and BATL is also part of the IATF.

Popular Axe-Throwing Competitions

Some popular axe-throwing competitions include:

  • World Axe Throwing Championships
  • IATF Integrated Tournament Circuit
  • IATF Regionals 
  • BATL Axe Throwing Tournaments

4 Types of Throwing Axes

Here are four of the most utilized types of throwing axes.


This axe has two edges, with one edge more blunt than the other. Originally, it was used to take down trees, but as a throwing axe, it’s typically used in competitions instead of recreational sessions.


Lighter and thinner than a hatchet, tomahawks are used in axe throwing because they are smaller and easier to throw. 


Hatchets can be thought of as an all-purpose axe, as it’s small enough to be handled by the average person but still sturdy enough to chop into wood. It’s the most common type of axe found at throwing axe establishments because it is so easy to handle. 

Splitting Axes

These axes are also known as splitting mauls (which sounds way scarier than it should) and are mostly used for chopping firewood. While not a common type of throwing axe, some professionals like using it because the handle is long enough to create a powerful swing. 

Why Is Axe Throwing Popular as a Leisure Activity?

After a sudden and swift spike in popularity, the axe-throwing craze is powering on. So why all the hype? Here are a few reasons people around the world are so into axe throwing:

  • It’s a friendly sport. Unlike some other competitive sports, axe throwers love to have a good time and cheer each other on. Most games are accompanied by drinks, food, music, and great laughs.
  • It’s a great stress release. Looking for a great stress reliever? Before you punch a wall, consider axe throwing instead. When it comes down to it, axe throwing is a simple activity that can be done anywherefree from the trappings of everyday life.
  • It’s fast-paced. Axe throwing is a quick game with little downtime, making it captivating to watch and even more enjoyable to play.
  • It’s fun. Like any great sport, axe throwing is ultimately popular because it’s so thoroughly enjoyable!
  • It’s easy to learn. Sure, chucking an axe across the room seems intimidating, but it’s relatively easy to learn (and quite safe). You don’t need tons of equipment or training, and you don’t even need to be particularly strong to do it well. Learn a few key techniques, start practicing, and you’re ready to throw.

Axe Throwing Parties

Sick of doing the same wine-and-dine when you host a get-together? Try axe throwing instead! Heber Hatchets is great for all kinds of parties

Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties

Spend the last few days of singledom flying with a toss of an axe. Axe throwing is perfect for bachelors and bachelorettes who don’t want the typical party. 

Date Nights

Date nights could use an upgrade. Imagine hurling a hunk of metal through the air during a group date night instead of making awkward small talk. What could be better?

Company Parties

Make hanging out with your co-workers after hours actually fun with axe throwing. Think about how fun it will be to hit a target while thinking of your boss (don’t tell our boss we said that). 

Talk about team bonding. 

Try Axe Throwing Today

Axe throwing is surging in popularity for good reason. If you’re still not sure what’s fueling the axe-throwing craze, the only way to find out is by trying it for yourself. Visit Heber Hatchets today and find your inner lumberjack. We offer axe throwing in Idaho, Utah,  and Washington

Contact us or check out our prices to get in on the fun!