From the mid-19th century until the chainsaw took over in forestry in the mid-20th century, Double Bit Axes were commonly used in particular by forest workers in Canada and the USA. The benefit of the Double Bit Axe for forest workers was that each edge could be ground differently. That way the forest workers only needed to carry one multi-purpose axe.
Often one edge was ground more finely for use in felling and the other edge was a little blunter for limbing. The Double Bit Axe was eventually so common that it became a symbol of professional forest workers in North America. These forest workers often worked away from civilisation for many months at a time and the range of leisure pursuits was obviously limited, so they amused themselves in spare moments by throwing their axes at a target, usually the end of a log.
Today the Double Bit Axe rarely appears in the forest. Instead, it is now mainly used for the fun leisure pursuit of axe throwing, where the axe is thrown at a target. Swedish and Nordic competitions are organised by the Swedish Axe Throwing Society, amongst others.
The rules of Axe Throwing
Only the ‘Fore-Bit’ of the Double Bit Axe can score a hit on the target area – but the bit must stick in the target. The Fore-Bit only needs to nick the line separating two scoring areas to win the points of the higher scoring area. The winner is whoever has the best score after three throws.
|1: Distance throwing line/target = 6.1 m (20’)
2: Height = 1.5 m (60”)
1: Length = min. 610 mm (24”)
2: Edge = max. 152 mm (6”)
3: Weight = min. 1134 g (2 1/2 lb) incl. handle
1: Target face = 102 mm (4”)
2: Ø = 450 mm (18”)
§ 1 A Double Bit Axe is thrown at a wooden target. The max. and min. dimensions for the competition throwing axe are as shown above.
§ 2 The distance from the throwing line to the bull’s eye of the target is to be
6.1 m (20’).
§ 3 The thrower must not step over the throwing line before the axe has hit or missed the target. This should be monitored by a line judge. A thrower who steps over the line gets 0 points.
§ 4 The Fore-Bit is the bit facing the target at the moment when the thrower releases the axe in their throw at the target.
§ 5 Only the Fore-Bit of the Double Bit Axe can score a hit on the target area – but the bit must stick in the target. (In a traditional throw, the axe handle usually points towards the ground for a valid hit.)
§ 6 The Fore-Bit only needs to nick the line separating two scoring areas to win the points of the higher scoring area.
§ 7 The Back-Bit must not touch the target. If the Back-Bit touches the target, the throw is given 0 points, even if the Fore-Bit has hit the target at the same time.
§ 8 The winner is the person with the highest points after at least three throws, or the number of throws announced in advance by the organiser. (Best of five or six throws is common).
§ 9 Before the competition, a special target for practice throws must be made available. Throwers practising on the competition target will be disqualified from the competition.
§ 10 The design and measurements of the target and the points for each circular section are shown in the illustration above.
§ 11 Competition classes: Seniors women and men. Juniors women and men. Competitors less than 18 years old are considered as juniors. The competition referee will decide on the lower age limit on a case-by-case basis. For a competition class to achieve competition status, it must include at least three participants. If the number of participants in a junior class is fewer than three, they are to be moved up to the senior class.
§ 12 The competition referee is appointed by the organisers. If the competition is organised by an axe throwing club, the club’s committee appoints the referee. The referee appoints the competition jury and the number of officials required: safety marshals, umpires etc.
§ 13 The competition referee must check and be responsible for compliance with the official safety rules. If there are safety issues, the referee must stop the competition until such issues have been resolved. The competition referee must always inform competitors and spectators about the official safety rules.
Source: Swedish Axe Throwing Society
Issues of responsibility
The organisers, e.g. the committee of an axe throwing club or axe throwing society, must verbally, or preferably in writing, delegate responsibility at each competition to a competition referee. The referee must have plenty of experience of axe throwing. During the competition, the referee must wear a jacket, vest or armband marked ‘Competition Referee’. Officials and competitors are to be given detailed instructions before the competition on how the competition rules are to be applied and followed. Persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs must never compete in axe throwing.
3 m behind the throwing line, 8 m to each side and 15 m behind the targets.
The risk area is to be cordoned off with tape, rope or suchlike. Stickers or signs bearing the text ‘No unauthorised access’ are to be placed along the cordon.
A safety marshal/marshals must patrol the whole cordoned off area while a competition is underway. Only officials and those competing at the time may enter the cordoned off area.
There must be one umpire for each target.
All the competitors in each round throw at the same time on a given signal from the referee or announcer.
When given clearance by the referee, the umpires go up to the targets to mark the throw. The axes are then removed from the targets and returned to the competitors. When handing over an axe, the handle must always be pointed towards the recipient. The umpires must hold the axe in such a way that they do not touch the edge of the bits.
The axes must always be kept in their sheath outside the competition area.
Swedish Axe Throwing Society
Become a member of an axe throwing club or the Swedish Axe Throwing Society for regular news on axe throwing clubs, information about where you can learn and practice axe throwing, competition programmes and so on. As a member, you can also compete in the qualifiers for the Swedish national axe throwing championship. To join the Swedish Axe Throwing Society, visit www.yxkastarna.com