Axe Throwing Rules

As the global governing body & league for the sport of urban axe throwing, we've published in-depth rules for all league members and axe throwing venues to follow. These rules promote fair play and a standard set of guidelines.

League Rules

& Regulations

Section A
Age Requirements

Minimum Age

  1. WATL does not enforce any age requirement or limit. Each affiliated location is allowed have an age requirement if they so choose. Please contact your local participating league location to inquire about their age rules.

Section B
Pre-Game Rules

Target Quality

  1. Targets should be relatively new and of sound quality prior to league commencement.

    1. When targets deteriorate to a point where excessive movement or 'wiggling' of the axes occur when they land in the damaged area causing or risking good throws to fall out, the boards should be switched out to ensure fair play.
    2. If a large piece of wood or chunk falls out during play, the player may request to have the board changed but the ultimate decision will fall on the axe throwing referee (coach).
    3. Targets must be sprayed with water from spray bottle prior to the start of league play.
      1. If boards are continually hard, league members may request to have more water sprayed on the boards.

Warm Up Throws

  1. Players may have up to 5 practice throws prior to their first match.
  2. Players may have 1 practice throw prior to any subsequent matches.
  3. The axe throwing referee will notify players when their match will commence.
  4. The league will allow practice throws before official league start time subject to availability, fairness and consent of referee on premises.

Section C

  1. Each league night allows every participant 4 matches.
  2. Each match is played against different opponents, selected at random and consists of the following:
    1. 10 throws per match.
    2. In each match, players will take 5 throws then switch sides.
      1. This ensures fair play when there's varying density in wood.
    3. The winner of the match will be the person with the most points after 10 throws.
    4. In the event of a tie after 10 throws, there will be sudden death:
      1. The players will throw again (11th time) and the winner will be the person that scores the higher points during that throw.
      2. If both players tie again, they must continue with sudden death throws until there is a winner.
      3. Points are not counted or tallied during sudden death.
  3. The match points and win/loss then be recorded and uploaded to the leaderboards.
  4. After 7 weeks, the 8th and final week of each season will be the playoffs and final match to determine the season champion. See Playoffs section for details.

Section D


  1. The black line awards points associated with the ring.
  2. 6 points for the bullseye.
  3. 4 points for the 2nd ring.
  4. 3 points for the 3rd ring.
  5. 2 points for the 4th ring.
  6. 1 point for the 5th ring.
  7. 10 points for the blue balls, also known as the kill shot.
    1. The kill shot is only available on the tenth and final throw of the match.
      1. Otherwise the blue balls are worth 1 point (the value of the ring they are in).
      2. During the final throw of the match, the coach will provide a countdown starting from 3 (3,2,1), to indicate when the axes are to be thrown.
        1. On this final throw, axes MUST be thrown at the same time. If an axe hits the target before the second player's axe leaves their hands, the late thrower will be given 0 points.


  1. Touching the Line: If the axe is in 2 rings simultaneously, then the player is awarded the points for the higher valued ring.
    1. As long as the axe is touching the higher value ring, the higher amount of points is awarded.
  2. Stick and Stay Policy: the axe must remain in the target for the throw to count.
    1. If the axe falls out before the axe is retrieved, then the throw will be counted as 0 points.
  3. No Delays in Throws: Players may not "delay" in throwing the axe in hopes that opponent's axe may fall out of the target or use delays for strategic advantage.
  4. Oddball Throws: on the rare occasion that the axe sticks to the target with the back of the blade, the shaft of the axe or any other part of the axe, the throw still counts and points awarded accordingly.

Section E
Axe Throwing

Distance & Technique

Axe Throwing Technique

  1. WATL players are allowed to throw axes in one of two ways:
    1. 1 hand holding the axe & over or behind the head.
    2. 2 hands holding the axe & over or behind the head.
  2. No other style of throws are permitted.
  1. Rotation: the axe must make approximately 1 rotation in order for it to count.
    1. If the axe is close to making a full rotation (ie. 50% rotation) and a portion of the blade touches and sticks to the target, the throw counts.

Axe Throwing Distance

  1. Axe Throwing Distance: Players will throw from the boxed area marked on the floor, 12-15 feet away from the targets. The lines are made from 1” inch thick tape or can be painted on the floor. Each box is 3 feet wide.

    1. Players must have their lead foot in the boxed area when throwing the axe.
      1. The other foot (back foot) may be behind and outside the boxed area.
      2. Players will not be penalized if their back foot is touching any lines in the box.
    2. A player's lead foot is allowed to touch the front line during the throw but no part of their foot may cross the line.
      1. If any part of their foot is over the front line at the commencement of their throw or at or after the release of the axe throw, their throw will be counted as a zero.
      2. If any part of their foot is over the line after the axe is released the throw is valid and counted.
        1. Players may not step forward, over the line during their axe throw.
        2. This exception is after the axe has been thrown/released and the player's momentum pushes them forward, past the line.
      3. Here's an example of a valid throw where the foot is before the line when the axe is released but the player steps over the line after the release of the axe:

Section F

& Absences

Late Players and/or Early Departures

  1. Players are allowed to arrive up to 1 hour late, after official league start time.
  2. Players are allowed to leave up to 1 hour early, prior to the end of the scheduled official league time.
  3. If a player arrives late, after the 1 hour official start time or leaves earlier than the 1 hour league completion time:
    1. The player that was scheduled to go against him will be granted an automatic win, but will perform 10 throws and have their points recorded.
    2. The late player will automatically receive a loss and a zero for all throws.
  4. Exceptions are allowed with consent of opposing players affected that day and approval from referee.

Playoff Exception

  1. Players are required to arrive to the playoffs at the start of regulation play.
  2. If a player is not present when their match begins, a 10 minute grace period will be offered.
    1. If the player does not show up, they will forfeit their match and the player that is present will be awarded the win.
    2. If the player arrives during their grace period, but is late for their next match, they will be immediately disqualified.


  1. Players are allowed to miss up to 2 days of regulation play during the season and make up their matches and throws in subsequent weeks:
    1. Players must make up any missed matches by week 7, otherwise, a loss will be attributed to their absence with a score of 0.
    2. No missed matches and throws are to be performed during week 8 (playoffs) - the seven week mark is the cut off.
  2. In order to miss a regulation league night, players are required to give a minimum 1 day notice to the referee of their absence.


  1. 12 ft minimum/clear height (within the throwing lane) is required for safety reasons.


  1. The entire season lasts 8 weeks including playoffs.
  2. There are 7 weeks where players can work on their season total allowing for 280 throws that officially contribute to each player's season standings.


  1. The top 16 of players with the most points will make it to the final week of playoffs where a champion is crowned. In the event of a tie at the end of the season, the amount of match wins will determine the standings for playoffs.
    1. If less than 16 players then it will be the top scoring 75% of players.
    2. A Minimum of 8 players to a Maximum of 16 players may qualify for the playoffs.
      Click here for an example of the 16 Player bracket
  2. Initial tournament match-ups will be determined as follows:
    1. The player with the highest score will throw against the player with the lowest score. The second highest scorer from the regular season is matched against the second lowest scorer of qualifying players and so on so that the two players with the median scores are matched up.
  3. The tournament follows a single elimination structure for each round except final round.
    1. The winner of each match consisting of 10 throws, except in case of tie-breakers, advances to the next round.
  4. The final round between the two potential league champions will be at most 50 throws. Each player will throw 5 times on their respective target before switching to the other target.
    1. The Winner: will be the person who wins 3 out of the 5 matches.

The World
Axe Throwing
League Championship

  1. The World Championship is to be held at the end of each Fall season.
    1. The top two competitors from each location will be the ones allowed to compete for the World Championship title.
    2. For the championship both players will do 50 throws. Counting points for each throw.
    3. The Championship Throws are to be done just like the regular tournament. This means allowing the kill shot every 10 throws and having the players switch lanes every 5 throws.
      1. Countdowns are still required for the every tenth throw (also known as the killshot).
      2. Countdowns are optional on all other throws as long as the entire match throws are consistent. Whether all shots have countdowns is to be decided by the Judge. Example: All 50 throws either do or do not have a countdown (with exception of the killshot).
  2. The WATL Champion will be crowned from one of the regional champions.
    1. The total points from the each competitors 50 throws is compared to all other championship competitors.
    2. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the 50 throws.
    3. In the case of a tie, the players who have tied will compete against each other for 50 throws in the same manner as the championship in as many rounds as it takes to clearly define one player scoring more points than the other.
  3. Safety

    1. Axes - Each and every axe is inspected prior to each league night to ensure the axe is up to standard.
      1. Broken axes may not be used.
      2. Coaches ensure the blades of the axes are sharp enough to hit AND stick to the target, but are not razor sharp to the touch.
      3. Participants are instructed to grip the axe by the handle and only the handle.


  1. Lanes - Each throwing area is designated as a throwing lane. Fences or walls block this area from the rest of the facility to keep throwers and axe all contained in a safe environment.
    1. Only the two participating throwers and the axe throwing coach are allowed in inside the lane at one time. This includes ensuring the area behind the throwers is clear of any other person up to 6'.


  1. Coaches must always be present while members are throwing during league play.
    1. A 6' radius should be maintained around every participant holding an axe, however, the coach may approach the participants and enter this 6' radius to provide instruction.
    2. An axe should never be thrown until a coach has provided a demo and instruction for which the participant has been present.
  2. Throwing: Axes from each player should be thrown at the same time.
    1. If an individual throws an axe after the other axe has hit the target, the individual who threw their axe late will have their throw disqualified and counted as a zero.
      1. Coaches may give up to 2 warnings per match to individuals who throw up to 3 seconds after the first throw (when both players are at the line and ready to throw).
      2. Coaches may give up to 2 warnings per match to individuals who are throwing too early.
  3. Axes are to be retrieved only when both axes have hit the target or the floor.
  4. Axes shall never be thrown when a participant is picking up an axe from the target area. This will result in an immediate disqualification (counted as a loss) for that match.

Section G

The Target

  1. The targets are built from 5 2x10 wooden boards that are 4' in length. The first layer would be arranged horizontally, then the outermost layer, on which targets will be drawn, is arranged vertically.
  2. Cover wall in OSB or plywood.
  3. The targets should be made of two layers SPF wood.
  4. The first layer of 2x10 wood drilled onto the SPF wooden wall are called backboards.
    The backboards can be made of 6' feet long of 2x10 lumber. This will be the backboard where you will then drill your target boards against.
    1. There should be 6pcs of 2x10s, that are 6' feet long, drilled into the wall vertically and packed tightly together.
    2. These 6 vertical boards should be 2 feet off the ground.
  5. The second layer of wood will be your actual targets. These will be three 2x10 boards in the center, and one 2x10 board on each side. The targets consist of two components: 1) the targets 2) the headers and footers.

Headers and Footers

  1. Above and below the targets, you will install headers and footers. This will help protect the top and bottom areas of the target while allowing for branding of you company.
    1. Header: drill one 4' foot long 2x10 pieces of wood horizontally on top of target against the backboard.
    2. Footer: drill one 4' foot long 2x10 pieces of wood horizontally on bottom of target against the backboard.
      1. The footer also provides the benefit of allowing you to change boards quicker and easier.
  2. The end product is a backboard that is 4' feet x 6' and another layer of SPF that fully covers the back at 4' feet x 6' as well.

Target Design

  1. Each WATL affiliated location shall purchase an official target protractor/stencil. Target Design
  2. The small hole on the left in the diagram above will have a screw that will be drilled into the center of the middle board. (Aproxamatly 24 inches in the center of the board. That will make 57 1/4 inches fro the floor).
    1. A black, 20mm marker will then be used to draw the remaining circles.
    2. Holes are 22" thick to allow for marker to fit that has 1/2" thick felt.
    3. Lines are only 20mm thick.
    4. The Bullseye is to be coloured in red.
  3. All targets must be level (no slanting of the targets are allowed).
  4. The bullseye must be 24” inches (60.96 cm) from the bottom of the board.
    1. The killshot (2 blue balls) are 3” inches in diameter and positioned inside the 1 point ring.
    2. It is to be positioned approximately 45 degrees (on the right hand side) and 135 degrees (on the left hand side) from the bullseye.
Target Design
Target Design

League Board

  1. The WATL regional league board will have a rectangle painted in white left blank for the next champion's name to be written in black permanent marker.
  2. The board should be on the wall and be 8' wide. This should allow for each row, beginning from the top and moving downward each season, to have 4 columns and thus, 4 white rectangles per year. The first will be 2016/17 and the first column will be Spring.
  3. At the end of the 8th week the name of the champion for that season should be written by a coach while participants are still present.

Weekly Challenges

  1. There are incentives each week that provide $10 discounts for the next season's registration.
  2. Each week there should be a new weekly challenge which will have one winner maximum. The winner will get the $10 off for the next season's registration.
  3. Examples are most bullseyes one week, most blue balls another week, most rounds with perfect score, best dressed (announced the week before), best war cry, best throwing face, highest score of the night.

Membership Cards

  1. Each member gets a perks card which can be used from opening night of the current league registered in until the opening night of the next season.
  2. Perks available on cards are:
    1. 2 free 1 hour walk-ins (to be used on separate visits).
    2. 2 free passes when booking with a group (to be used on separate visits).
    3. 2 friend discounts of $35+tax (to be used on separate visits).
  3. Each perk is listed on the back and a hole should be punched through it when redeemed.
  4. Issuing coach must write name of cardholder (league member) on the back of the card in legible and permanent font.


  1. All WATL certified axes must confirm to the following standards:
    1. The axe head can weigh up to 2lbs maximum.
    2. The blade on the head should be no longer than 4.75" maximum.
    3. The handle may be made of wood, steel or plastic and length be at least 12" inches long, including the handle in the eye of the head of the axe.
      1. The length includes the top head of the axe where the wood is inserted, to the bottom of the shaft.


  1. The regional winner will be awarded a WATL branded trophy for their region.
  2. A larger grand prize trophy will be awarded to the World Axe Throwing League Champion.