World Axe Throwing League 2019 Rules Summary Update


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WATL 2019 Rules Update

2018 has been a monumental year for the World Axe Throwing League. Hard to believe so much has happened in a single year such as growing to be in over 15 countries, the partnership with the International Knife Throwing Federation, and being featured on ESPN2! But with as much growth as we’ve done, we’ve learned a lot about how the sport of Urban Axe Throwing is played across the world and that’s why we’ve decided to make some changes to the Axe Throwing Rules for our 2019 year.

The Commissioner and the WATL Ambassadors have been hard at work with constructive discussions about moving our beloved sport forward and we’re happy to say the time has arrived! Many of these are simple clarifications on rules that we had a lot of confusion about but we’re also happy to say that we have some excellent new rules in line to make a clear, cohesive, and fun sport for all to participate in. Without further ado, let’s jump into the new WATL rules for 2019.

World Axe Throwing Rules 2019 Update Summary


Code of Conduct

  • Non-throwers do not have the right to argue or challenge any calls made by the league coach or referee.

Match Rules and Regulation

  • Target Quality
    • No-one other than the official coach may alter the boards before, during, or after any match unless authorized by the presiding official.
      • This includes pulling out pieces of boards, chopping or softening the board with their axe, watering the boards, etc.
  • Gameplay
    • For players registered in more than one WATL sanctioned league in each season (be it separate nights or separate locations), prior to the start of the league season, must immediately identify which league and location will be considered for their score and eligibility for the WATL Championship and official WATL leaderboards.
      • Failure to do so will result in WATL making the determination from the lowest points in all registered locations
    • No wearing earphones while throwing
  • Points
    • Killshot Throw
      • The killshot is active and worth 10 points for the 10th and final throw of the match only. Otherwise the killshot  will be treated as 1 point in the preceding 9 throws.
        • On this final throw of the match, the thrower with the majority points in the current match must throw first
          • In the event of a tie leading up to the 10th throw, player on the left of the two targets will throw first
      • Sudden Death
        • In the event of a tie after 10 throws in a single match, the match enters into sudden death.
        • The Killshot is activated during all sudden death throws
        • Players will switch lanes and throw. This will happen for every Sudden Death Throw
        • The player in the left target will always throw first
      • Final Throws
        • If after 5 consecutive sudden death throws a winner has not been determined, all subsequent throws must be for the killshot only until a winner is determined
          1. Only the killshot is activated during the 6th and subsequent sudden death throws
            • This means that no rings or the bullseye on the target are active
      • Scoring
        • When the axe is resting in its final place, it will be scored.
        • The points from the axe will be determined by where the scoring area of the axe head meets the surface of the wood that the axe head is embedded into. This means if the axe head curves up, inside the board, the part that curves up deep inside the board not count, rather the area that is immediately touching the wood on the surface. Please refer to diagram below.
        • If a thrower touches any part of the axe before the presiding official announces the score, the throwers points are marked as zero (0)
        • If the score is too close to make an accurate call by eye, the presiding official will benefit the thrower and give the higher points.
        • If a thrower attempts to touch any part of their opponent’s axe at any time during a match without permission they will be suspended from the match.
        • Scoring Area of Axe
          • The axe head, blade and cheek up to the front of the eye but not past it.
          • If there is no visible eye of the axe in the top of the axe head then it counts as where the handle would meet if going straight through. To be determined by the official presiding over the match.

Axe Throwing

  • Technicalities
    • No throw will be thrown without a verbal or gesture signal of an Open Lane from the presiding Coach and confirmed by all throwers.
      • If no signal is given or confirmation received, and a throw is made by a thrower, then that throw will count as a throw fault.
    • Throws must be taken within 5 seconds of each other
      • If a thrower throws after 5 seconds of the other thrower, this will result in a Throw Fault.


  • Axe Throwing Distance
    • Footing
      • One foot must be on the floor while the axe is thrown.
      • Foot placement cannot go past 12ft/3.66m
        • Foot Fault line must be marked with a 3-inch thick red line where the 12ft/3.66m distance from the target is the side facing the thrower
        • Thrower cannot touch or go beyond the line toward the target with either foot while they have an axe in hand. Doing so will result in a Foot Fault.
    • All Non-throwers Spectators must be to the side or at least 5ft behind throwers  


  • Axe Regulations
    • No second bits or spikes on the opposite side of the axe head from the forward facing bit of the axe.
      • Decorative blunt objects are allowed but there may not be anything that could be considered sharp. This will be determined by the presiding match official.
    • Handle Max Length can be no more than 19in/48.26cm from the bottom of the handle to the top of the axe head.
    • Maximum Weights of an axe
      • Axe Head = 2lbs/0.907kg
      • Axe Total = 3lbs/1.36kg
    • Broken axe
      • If the coach determines that a throwers axe has broken during a match in a significant way. The thrower must provide a replacement axe to be verified and approved by the coach. If they do not provide a second non-broken axe within 1 minute they will have the rest of their match throws are counted as 0.
        • The thrower is allowed 1 practice throw with the new axe before continuing the match. This will only apply if their original axe is declared broken by the presiding official. 

League Format

  • Coaches
    • If an Affiliate/Judge/presiding official is caught cheating in any way such as but not limited to, falsifying data, making biased calls in a match, there will be a one year ban from hosting any WATL Sanctioned events including leagues and/or tournaments.
  • Regular Season
    • Levels of Competition – Professional(Pro) /Recreational(Rec) leagues
      • Professional Leagues are regular leagues where all rules apply.
      • Rec Leagues are to be run following the same rules and regulations as Pro WATL leagues but will not be counted toward our leaderboards or for official competition such as Championship Qualifiers.
  • Playoffs
    • The 8th Week playoff tournament all league members will participate in a Double Elimination bracket.
    • All competitors in the season participate
    • Seeding is done in the traditional manner based on the total points from weeks 1 through 7.
    • All competitors will be put into two sets of brackets, the winner’s bracket and underdog bracket (W and U brackets for short) after the first round. The first-round winners proceed into the W bracket and the losers proceed into the U bracket. The W bracket is conducted in the same manner as a single-elimination tournament, except that the losers of each round “drop down” into the U bracket.
    • The final Championship round is between the winner of the W bracket and the winner of the U bracket consisting of best of 3 matches. Allowing for one practice throw between each match.
      • The Winner: will be the person who wins 2 out of the 3 matches first.
        • The W winner must lose twice in order for the U winner to win the Championship
          • This means that if the U winner, beats the W winner in a best of 3 match, they must play another best of 3 match in order for the U winner to win the Championship


World Championship

  • Qualifying for the World Championship
    • When competing in a WATL sanctioned season, if you met the following criteria, you will earn a bid for the World Championship.
      • You must win your local league season and be crowned Regional Champion
      • You must also have your overall points score from weeks 1 through 7 be listed in the top 12 points scores in the overall season leaderboards globally.
        • This requires that your facility utilizes the official WATL League App
    • Other ways to qualify for the World Championship:
      • Win an officially sanctioned WATL Open Tournament
      • Become the winner of the Gold Cup Tomahawk tournament in the IKTHOF Championship
      • Be the previous years World Champion
      • Win one of the World Axe Throwing League Championship Wildcard spots available during the World Championship weekend
    • Restrictions on qualifying
      • Cannot be eligible for more than 1 Championship placement in a year 
      • If a player has already earned a placement for the Championship, and they win their next regional championship and meet all eligibility requirements, the Championship placement will go to the runner-up below them that meets all other required eligibility requirements with the exception of being a regional winner.
        • This means that the runner-up must also place in the top 12 point scores globally
      • If a player in the top 12 of the leaderboards has already earned a placement for the World Championship, then the bid will go to the next available person below them who have not received a bid in the current year.
        • For example, if during Fall league, all top 12 throwers have secured a placement for the World Championship, the placement eligibility will continue down past the top 12 scores globally until a unique placement is granted
      • If you win a tournament after getting a bid then the bid goes to the runner-up while ensuring scoring eligibility requirements


  • Axe
    • Definition: Axe(Ax)
    • noun, plural ax·es [ak-siz] /ˈæk sɪz/.
    • an instrument with a bladed head on a handle or helve, used for hewing, cleaving, chopping, throwing etc.
  • Types of Axes
    • There are so many types of axes and axe heads that could fill a library. For the World Axe Throwing League, we’ll focus primarily on the subclasses of axes that are commonly referred to as “Hatchets” and “Tomahawks”
  • Axe Area Designations
    • Axe Head
      • The portion of the axe that is mounted or connected to a handle.
    • Bit/Blade
      • The Cutting Edge of the axe head
    • Cheek
      • The sides of the axe head
    • Toe
      • The top of where the cutting edge ends
    • Heel
      • The bottom of where the cutting edge ends
    • Beard
      • The concave area on the underside of the axe head. Love it
    • Eye
      • The area of the axe head where the handle connects through from the bottom to the top. Many full metal axes have no eye due to their solid construction.
    • Hammer/pole/butt
      • The blunt backside of the axe head, opposite the bit.
    • Handle/Haft
      • The Area of the axe that connects with the axe head, where the axe is held for use.
    • Shoulder
      • The area of the axe where the handle touches the underside of the axe head before entering the eye, typically with a visible swell.
    • Throat/Belly
      • The area of the axe handle below the shoulder and above the grip/leg
    • Grip/Leg
      • Where the axe is supposed to be held for optimal throwing
    • Knob/foot
      • The end of the handle opposite of the axe head.
  • Coach/Judge Judge
    • The presiding Official who monitors and referees who watch a game or match closely to ensure that the rules are adhered to and to arbitrate on matters arising from the match.
  • Competitor/player
    • A person who takes part in a sanctioned WATL event/season.
  • Thrower
    • A person who is actively and currently taking part in match play
  • Non-Thrower
    • A person who is not currently taking part in match play.
    • This includes spectators and competitors who are not currently competing in a match.
  • Affiliate
    • An Axe throwing company or group that is a member of the World Axe Throwing League.
  • Venue
    • A location that participates in axe throwing.
  • Throw
    • The act of propelling an axe with force through the air by a movement of the arm and hand for points during match play. Points are counted on sticking the axe head in the wood
  • Practice Throw
    • Similar to the “throw” but does not count for points during match play.
  • Lane
    • A well-marked area for throwing, typically with two targets for match play.
  • Target
    • A set of boards with clearly defined points scoring zones (See Ring, Bullseye, and Killshot) in which the thrower will throw their axes at.
  • Ring
    • A single scoring zone of predetermined points value between 1 and 4.
  • Bullseye
    • The red center scoring zone of the target worth 6 points.
  • Killshot
    • A Blue Dot in the top two corners of the 1 point ring that is worth 10 points on the tenth and final throw of a match.
  • Match
    • A match is a full game of ten throws between two throwers for the highest amount of points.
  • Open Lane
    • A lane that is active with throwers throwing
  • Closed lane
    • A lane that is not to be thrown in.
  • Sudden Death
    • This is a single throw used to determine who won a match in case of a tie. This throw does not count for points in the overall leaderboards. If case of a tie this is to be repeated 5 times the next step is final throws
  • Final Throws
    • When sudden death has reached 5 tie throws, a match will continue in the style of sudden death but with only the Kill Shot being available to score.
  • Fault
    • A penalty for breaking a rule resulting in the current throw’s points being brought to 0 regardless of the actual points scored on the target.
      1. Foot Fault
        • When the foot goes over the designated line of throwing.
      2. Throw Fault
        • When a throw is made in a closed lane, out of time from the other thrower, or in a style of throw that is not approved for league play.
  • Disqualified
    • When a competitor or spectator acts against our rules or code of conduct and must leave the match area for a single match. In the case of a competitor, if they are an active thrower their match counts as a loss and the points are brought down to 0 regardless of any previous points scored.
  • Local Suspension
    • A player or spectator that has been suspended may not compete in WATL Leagues at their designated venue they were given the suspension for at least the rest of the current season. Or unless otherwise specified by WATL
  • League Suspension
    • Potentially Multiple seasons and potential suspension from all WATL venues for competing in leagues will be determined by the WATL.
  • Season
    • A season is the 8 week portion within a single year in which regulated games of the Axe Throwing League are in session.
    • There are 4 seasons to a full year of league ending in the World Championship.
  • Tournament
    • A single event competition with a series of matches between throwers, who compete for an overall prize.
  • Open Tournament
    • A single event competition with a series of matches between throwers, who compete for an overall prize, but will be open for public entry in addition to WATL competitors.
  • Regional Champion
    • The single sole winner of a WATL affiliated venue’s sanctioned league season.
  • Open Champion
    • The single sole winner of a WATL sanctioned Open Tournament
  • World Champion
    • The single sole winner of the annual World Axe throwing Championship

Coach Signals


Other Signals


Thank you for taking the time to familiarize yourself with the rules changes for 2019. Make sure to check us out on Facebook and Instagram for future announcements and developments in the World Axe Throwing League.

* Rules Update Feb 21 *

Sanctioned League

  • A Sanctioned League is the axe throwing league hosted at a participating WATL affiliated venue that follows the rules and regulations of the World Axe Throwing League.
  • A Sanctioned League winner in a season, is crowned Regional Champion and is eligible for the World Championship.
  • A WATL Sanctioned League must have a minimum of 8 different players.
  • A WATL Sanctioned League may not have more than 60 players. If recruiting more than 60 players at the WATL Venue, then they must host Multiple Sanctioned Leagues

Multiple Sanctioned Leagues

  • A WATL affiliated venue may host more than one sanctioned league per season.
  • If hosting more than one sanctioned league, each sanctioned league must have a minimum of 10 different players not participating in another WATL sanctioned league.
  • The winner of each Sanctioned League is considered to be a Regional Champion for the sake of determining who is eligible for the World Championship.


  • If there is an injury of a player during league play, the injured player must seek prompt attention for any injuries.
  • The injured player may continue to compete after injury only after the player and league official decides it is safe to do so.
  • The Player and League official may have up to 2 minutes to decide whether the injured player may continue. If no decision has been reached in 2 minutes the injured player must forfeit the match. Their match will count as a loss but all points earned in the match are still recorded.
  • If either the player or the league official decides the injured player is too injured to continue, the injured player must forfeit the match. Their match will count as a loss but all points earned in the match are still recorded

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