The Difference Between WATL and IATF Rules

Axe throwing is growing in popularity as a sport with multiple different rule sets and organization it can be difficult to know what is the difference? What are the right boards, target size, lane dimensions, and scoring for axe throwing? We will also dive into the standards for each of the biggest axe throwing organizations WATL and IATF and their target size, board, scoring and dimension regulations. Once you are done with this post, you will be a rules pro for both leagues. If you want to check out some throwing axes that are legal for these leagues then check out our page here

Scoring & Points

IATF Axe Throwing Point Scoring

Point Values

The point values for IATF axe throwing are as follows: the bullseye or black ring is worth 5 pts, the middle or red ring is worth 3 pts, the outer or blue ring is worth 1 pt, and the green dot in each upper corner of the target, or Clutch is worth 7 pts.


The IATF clutch rules are in place to add excitement and suspense to the game. They require players to declare their intention to throw for Clutch before they throw, and only on the 5th and final throw of each round. This means that players must be strategic about when they choose to go for Clutch, as it could make or break their chances of winning the round. Additionally, an accidental Clutch is not valid, so players need to be careful not to call for it by mistake. If a player does call for Clutch but fails to hit the target, they receive no points.


The IATF measuring rules are designed to be fair and objective. In the event that players cannot agree on how to score a specific throw or throws, they must call for a third party measurement using a measuring device. Where ever the majority of the blade lands is that point value awarded. This ensures that any disputes about the outcome of the throw can be resolved in a fair and impartial manner.

The exception to the “Majority Rule” is clutches:

The International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) has specific rules in place for measuring the Clutch. As long as any part of the axe blade is breaking the green Clutch paint at the surface of the target, the throw is good and counts for 7 points. If players can’t agree a 3rd party is called.

WATL Axe Throwing Point Scoring

Point Values

There are a total of six rings on a WATL axe throwing target, and two killshots which are small dots. The outermost ring is worth one point, the second outermost ring is worth two points, and so on. The bullseye is worth six points, and the killshots are worth eight points when activated and hit. If the axe falls before the presiding official scores the axe, the axe is counted as a drop.


Killshots can be called on any throw during a game and are worth 8 points. The player must make clear to the Judge and their opponent that they intend on throwing for the Killshot, and the call must be made before either opponent throws. The player cannot change their call once a Judge confirms the intent to throw a Killshot. Both throwers may independently call up to 2 Killshots at any time.

There are two different Killshots, and they must be alternated. A thrower attempts a killshot on any throw if it is successful, that Killshot cannot be attempted again until the opposite Killshot is hit. If a player hits a Killshot, that doesn’t reset the count until the opposite Killshot is hit. This means that players need to be strategic in their throws and make sure they hit the correct Killshot.

In sudden death only killshots are active.


There are a few specific rules that govern how points are measured on an axe. The first is that the axe must be resting in the target in order to score. If the axe is removed from the target to determine the score, then no points will be awarded. Secondly, if the axe breaks multiple sections of the target simultaneously, then the player is awarded the points for the higher valued section. Finally, killshots must have a red outline using a ballpoint pen which will count as a scoring area. The inner bullseye must have a black outline using a ballpoint pen to gain points for the inner bullseye, the axe must break red or black if inside of the black outline.

What Are The Target Sizes for Axe Throwing?

When it comes to target sizes for axe throwing there are multiple different variations depending on which organization you listen to for example IATF and WATL have different.

IATF Axe Throwing Target Size

The IATF axe throwing rules for target size are as follows:

1. The bullseye is 7 inches in diameter and is located in the center of the middle 2×10.

2. The red (3 point ring) is 17 inches in diameter and is located outside of the bullseye, on the opposite side of the target from the blue (1 point ring).

3. The blue (1 point ring) is 27 inches in diameter and is located outside of the bullseye, on the same side of the target as the red (3 point ring).

For Clutches

For clutches which are worth 7 points the IATF state that:

1. The diameter of the Clutch is 2 inches.

2. The innermost edge of the Clutch is 4 ¼ inches from the seam between the side and center 2×10.

3. The center of the Clutch is 5 ¼ inches in from the seam and 40 ½ inches from the base of the target face board.

4. That means the base of the Clutch is 39 ½ inches from the base of the target face board.

WATL Axe Throwing Target Size

The official WATL axe throwing rules for target size are as follows:

  • The bullseye is 1.5” in diameter, outlined with a black waterproof pen, and colored in red. 
  • The bullseye must be 24” inches (60.96 cm) from the bottom of the board. This should make the center of the bullseye 60″ from the floor. 
  • The Killshot (2 blue circles) is 1.5” inches in diameter and positioned inside the 1-point ring. 
  • The bottom of the Killshot is positioned approximately 35.25 inches from the bottom of the board to the bottom of the Killshot and 2.5 inches from the outer side of the board ensuring they are centered inside the 1-point outer ring. This should make the bottom of the Killshot 71.25″ from the floor. 
  • The Killshot should be 1.5” in diameter, outlined with a red, waterproof ballpoint pen that denotes the Killshot, thereby eliminating overspray or bleeding caused by markers.

How Long Are Axe Throwing Lanes?

IATF Axe Throwing Lanes

The IATF has specific regulations for the throwing lanes used in axe throwing competitions. The solid red line is the fault line, and any throw that crosses this line is considered a foul. The solid black standard throwing line is the main throwing line, and all throws must be made with one foot behind this line. The dotted, thin blue line for big axe throwing is the extended throwing line. The solid yellow perimeter line marks the limit of the playing area.

In order to create a safe and consistent throwing experience, the American Inline Throwing

The Red Line

1. The red foot fault line must be a minimum of 6” thick and clearly visible to throwers. It must be painted across the entire length of the throwing arena.

2. The player must remain behind this line until both throwers have completed their throw.

3. The front of the red line is measured at 110” from the subframe of the target as if the face boards reached all the way to the ground.

The Black Line

the back foot of the thrower must be positioned completely behind the black line at all times during the throw. This line also doubles as the big axe foot fault line – if any part of the thrower’s foot crosses this line, it will be considered a foul. Secondly, the front of the black line is measured at 170” from the subframe of the target, as if the face boards reached all the way to the ground. The line is 10″ thick and is 52″ wide from left to right. This means that there should be 26” on each side of the center of the bullseye to be split evenly from the center.

The Blue Line

The blue line is the starting point for players to throw Big Axe, and must have one foot be completely behind the line when preparing to throw. The front of the blue line is measured at 220” from the subframe of the target as if the face boards reached all the way to the ground. It must be painted 2” thick and is 52” in length from the left to right, meaning that measured from the center of the black line there should be 26” on the left and 26” on the right if it is split evenly from the center of the bullseye.

The Yellow Line

 If you are not throwing an axe, you must stay behind the yellow line. This is to ensure the safety of spectators and other throwers. You are also not supposed to cross this yellow line if you are actively throwing.

WATL Axe Throwing Lanes

WATL has specific rules for the construction of axe throwing lanes. In order to create a safe and fair environment for competition, all lanes must contain two targets and be enclosed by fences or walls. Only the two participating throwers and the judge are allowed in the lane at any time, and they must ensure that the area behind them is clear of other people up to 5′. The minimum ceiling height within the lane is 10′, and it is recommended for lanes to be at least 12′ wide with the targets evenly distributed. They should also be at least 15′ long in order to accommodate a 12′ fault line and safe space to throw. For venues wishing to host Big Axe throwing, it is recommended for lanes to be at least 20′ long. Fault lines are supposed to be 3 inches wide and should be measured from the front of the target.

What Are The Board Dimensions for Axe Throwing Target Stands?

IATF Axe Throwing Board Dimensions & Target Stand Details

The International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) has a set of rules and regulations for the dimensions of axe throwing boards and stands. In order to create a standardized playing field for all competitors, these dimensions are essential.

Board Dimensions:

All IATF targets require at least one 1 ½ inches deep sub-frame layer directly behind the backboard, regardless of whether the target is mounted on a concrete wall or on an A-frame. The sub-frame should be 4 ½ inches thick, which is the equivalent of three 2×10 boards laid flat. The base of the backboard should be mounted flush with the base of the subframe and should be ¾ inch plywood cut to 4×4 feet.

Axe Throwing Target Stands

Target stands must be constructed of sturdy materials and must be capable of supporting the weight of the target without tipping over. The dimensions of the stand may vary, but it must be at least 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The height of the stand is also variable, but it must be such that the target is at least 39 inches off the ground. There is an allowance for the 39 inches if the ground surface is uneven.


The IATF has specific rules for the dimensions and construction of axe throwing targets. The board width must be 10 inches. The center 2×10 board must be mounted in line with the vertical center of the backboard, and the bullseye must be measured to the center of the 2x10x4 board. The remaining 2x10x4 boards must be mounted on either side of the centerboard, with no gaps in between. The targets must be 2×10 boards, with an additional 4-foot length of wood mounted on either side of the three primary boards. This outer edge board serves to hold the target in place upon axe impact. The quality of wood used is not important so long as there is one smooth 4-foot length to press firmly against the existing target boards.

WATL Axe Throwing Board Dimensions & Target Stand Details

Target Rules

The WATL Board & Target Regulations states that all boards must be individually secured and not able to slide or lift off from the target during sanctioned events.

Furthermore, before the start of a game, target boards should be switched out (at the judges’ discretion with or without a throwers request) if the boards have deteriorated to a point where: excessive movement or ‘wiggling’ of the axes occurs when they land in the damaged area causing or risking good throws to fall out; lines of scoring areas are missing significant gaps, or the integrity of the target rings is misshapen to the point that the target rings are greater than ⅛ inch larger or smaller than the original target.

Board Set Up

All WATL targets must be made of 3 layers of wood. The first layer should cover the wall in OSB or plywood. The second layer is called the Backboards and should be made of wood. There should be horizontal 2x10s, that are 4′ feet long, drilled into the wall and packed tightly together to cover the full space for the outer Targets. (This usually takes 6 – 8 boards) This will be the backboard which you will then drill your target boards against. The third and outermost layer is called the Target boards. These are also made of 4′ feet long 2×10 lumber. The targets consist of two components: 1) the targets 2) the headers and footers. 

End Grain wood is permitted for WATL targets.

The thickness of the boards must be at least 1-1/2 inches, but no more than 2 inches. The width must be between 9-1/4 inches and 12 inches. The length must be between 3 feet and 8 feet. The target stands must be a minimum of 18 inches wide by 24 inches deep, and a maximum of 36 inches wide by 48 inches deep.


There are some key differences between the WATL and IATF rules when it comes to boards, target size, scoring, and lane dimensions. Hopefully, with the help of this post, it is very clear the difference between WATL and IATF.

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