November 16, 2019

Urban Axe Throwing History

Once upon a time, in a far-away land… (que record scratch). This isn’t a fairytale; this is real life folks. I often get a strange look and a lot of questions when people ask me what I do. My favorite, of course, “Axe throwing? How did you get into that?”

My dad taught me in the summer of 2013 and I have been hooked ever since

Well my friends, my story is similar to how all of indoor urban axe throwing started, in my back yard. My dad taught me in the summer of 2013 and I have been hooked ever since. But this isn’t about how I got started, this is about how competitive axe throwing got its start.

It all began in the back yard of Mike Wilson, CEO of Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL). In 2006, Mr. Wilson hosted the leagues until 2011 when BATL opened its first location in Toronto, Canada becoming the first in the world to offer axe throwing in an urban setting. By 2015, they became a national phenomenon and expanded internationally in 2017 by opening locations in the United States.

The members of BATL helped in founding the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF) in 2016. NATF hosts the National Axe Throwing Championship in which the winner holds the Wilson Cup trophy. Prior to the National Axe Throwing Championship for NATF, it was known as the Champions league and was only eligible for BATL members from 2012-2016. In 2019, NATF became known as the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) in order to become all-inclusive to their world-wide locations.

Agawam Axe House - 2019 Spring League photo

2019 Spring League at the Agawam Axe House

As urban axe throwing became more popular, a different competitive axe throwing organization came to be. The World Axe Throwing League (WATL) was founded in 2017. The WATL brought together representatives from Canada, the United States, Brazil and Ireland to create WATL and create standardization within the sport of axe throwing. WATL offers numerous competitions all over the world including the US Open, the Canadian Open, the North American Arnold Open, the South American Arnold Open and the World Axe Throwing Championship. In 2018, WATL tournaments were aired, live, on ESPN being the first in urban axe throwing to be televised. WATL has also created the International Axe Throwing Day with is held annually on June 16th.

So, whether you got your start in the back yard setting or the urban setting, you are a part of history. As you grow as an axe thrower, so does the sport of axe throwing. Want some tips on how to get started – check out my Axe Throwing 101 post!


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