How many axes do you need for axe throwing

The number of axes you need for axe throwing changes depending on the situation. Most times one axe is fine but if you are throwing competitively having multiple throwing axes can give you a competitive edge to adjust to your situation. In this post, we will go into the details of when you need multiple axes and how to use them to your advantage.

Standard Throwing Axe

This is the most important axe that you absolutely need if you want to throw axes, especially if you want to throw axes competitively. If you decide to only get one axe then this is the most important one you can get. The reason is you are going to be throwing this axe about 99% of the time.

All of your standard axe throwing matches will consist of 3 rounds with 5 throws in each round. That makes a total of 15 throws you will be using a standard throwing axe. Most of your games will end after those 15 throws meaning that this is the most important tool to have.

But if you tie (according to the IATF rule set) you will then go to “big axe.”

Big Axe

The next most important axe to have beyond a standard throwing axe is a “big axe.” This is used when there is a tie in an axe throwing match both throwers will take out their big axes and throw at the target with the normal scoring however it is one throw of sudden death. If you hit a 3 and your opponent hits a 5, the match is over, and they won. If you are throwing at a venue many times the venue will have big axes that you can use which is what I did for my first year of axe throwing.

BUT it can be important to have your own big axe especially if you want to start throwing axes competitively. A big axe is the second most important axe you can have, and if you are going to have multiple axes, I recommend you have a standard hatchet and a big axe. Having the best big axe for you will give you a big advantage for tiebreakers. If you borrow from the venue, then you really have a chance to get adjusted to throwing that particular axe, and what happens if someone else is using that axe or it breaks? Having your own big axe will give you an advantage to consistently practice and get better for tie breaks.

If you are throwing in an axe throwing tournament, most people change the way they throw and become much more conservative, aiming for a tie more consistently instead of going for the win. In normal league matches, I always go for the most points and try to throw an 81, but in playoffs, I always go for the win or tie. Every single tournament I’ve been to it’s almost a coin flip if a match will go to big axe, and the better you get, the more likely your matches will be decided by who has the best big axe throw.

Number of Axes to use for Premier Axe Throwing Leagues

To understand the number of axes you should use for premier throwing axe leagues you need to understand what a premier league is.

For the IATF, there is a style of scoring called “premier” it is a much more difficult rule set than standard and is known for breaking the hearts of axe throwers everywhere. A quick summary of how premier works: For a throw to be a bullseye, there must be no bleed. That means if your axe is 99% in the bullseye, but that last 1% is a 3 then that is counted as a 3 not a bullseye. This scoring style rewards precision throws. However, for clutches, you need to have the blade break the entirety of what is referred to as the “clutch box” from top to bottom. The clutch box is 1.5 inches tall, 1 inch wide, and 0.25 inches between the top and bottom of the standard clutch circle.

The premier rule set means that when you are throwing for bullseye small axes provide an advantage since they are less likely to bleed but alternatively during clutches large blades provide a bigger advantage because they give you the largest chance to break the entire clutch box. This is when having multiple axes comes in. There are no rules against the number of axes you can throw during a match so many people have a specific axe they throw for bullseye, a specific clutch axe, and a big axe. The premier standard axe fits the minimum size requirements making it significantly less likely to bleed because it has a smaller blade, while the clutch axe is the maximum allowed blade size giving you the best chance to hit the full clutch box.

Personally, I use a single axe during premier and change the way I throw for clutch and bullseye meaning I don’t have to worry about multiple axes just my axe throwing technique. With proper technique, you can have your axe land flatter on the board, meaning you get the advantage of having more blade in the board without having to switch axes. Then during bullseye, I ensure I land at a 45-degree angle, so only about 1-2 inches of the blade sinks into a new target.

Fun to experiment

Personally, I have tons of throwing axes, not for the competitive edge that it provides but more because I like experimenting with different brands and styles of axes that are released. As a sport, axe throwing is brand new so there are new styles popping up left and right, and there is no “perfect axe.” That is something that makes axe throwing so much fun is that it really comes down to preference there are some axe thrower who use 100 year old axes they restored after buying it at a yardsale and those who spend hundreds on a custom axe to have it handcrafted. So experiment with what and how you like to throw to find what works best for you. If you end up with one axe or with multiple, that’s totally fine there is no “right way” to throw axes.


The standard answer to the question “how many axes do you need for axe throwing?” It is 2, one standard axe and one big axe, but as we went over in this blog, there are a lot of factors that can affect how many axes you use. If you are in premier, you might throw 3 axes. If you are looking for a good starting place, then 2 axes is a good foundation.

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