Axe-Throwing Rules

For a PDF version, click American Legion Axe Throwing Rules.

American Legion Axe Throwing Rules (Version 2013)


Nomenclature: For the purpose of these rules, the terms axe, hatchet, and tomahawk may be used interchangeably so long as they meet the criteria below.

Participants may use axes provided by the American Legion or use their own axes provided the axes meet the following criteria.

Axes must be between 12 and 24 inches in length, measured from the top of the handle to the bottom.

Axes must have a blade between 4 inches and 6 inches in length.

Axes may have a spike opposite of the head but may not be double-headed.

Axes must weigh between 10 and 32 ounces.

Axes must be in generally good condition and have the axe head firmly attached to the shaft.

The referee may make exceptions or modify the axe specifications as appropriate.


Participants will throw the axe at a minimum distance of 15 feet, as marked by the throwing line.  If the participant oversteps the line during play before the axe comes to a stop, the participant’s throw is invalidated and the participant loses this throw.

Target / Points

Any time a participant’s throw leads to one axe splitting another axe, the participant loses three points.

To score points, the participant throws the axe at the target and must make the axe stick in the target, touching at least one of the point rings.  No points are awarded for axes that do not stick in the target.

In the event that the axe sticks to two rings, points are awarded for the higher value.  

Variation 1:  The target is 36 inches in diameter with five concentric rings.  The bulls-eye is worth 5 points and each progressive ring is worth one point less than the previous ring.  Thus the maximum points in a round of play is 20 points.

Variation 2: Four bulls-eyes are attached to the wood block at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions.  To gain points, no two axes may score on the same bulls-eye.


In the event that there are many participants, the participants will be divided into groups to better manage the order of throwing.  For example, there may be Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4.

A “turn” consists of a participant having the opportunity to make one practice throw (for no points) and 4 throws for points.

A “round” is when all participants of a group have had a turn.

A “heat” is when all participants of a group have had three turns (three rounds).  There will be two heats. 


The contest will begin at 1 p.m. sharp.  All participants must be accounted for at the beginning of the contest; no late entries. 

All participants will have at least 24 throws for points (4 axes throws per round, 3 rounds per heat, 2 heats). 

Once two heats have been completed, five finalists will be identified based on the most points collected. 

The five finalists will compete in the following events:

Round 1: Large bulls-eye with a joker card worth 6 points affixed to a random location on the target.

Round 2: Four small bulls-eyes at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions with a special bulls-eye at the center worth 6 points.

If time permits, participants other than finalists may continue axe-throwing but will not be awarded official points.

The final rankings will be determined based on total cumulative points.

Recognition will go to the following:

  1. First Place
  2. Second Place
  3. Third Place
  4. Honorable Mention
  5. Honorable Mention

Safety / Organization

All participants and observers must use good judgment in ensuring safety. 

All participants and observers are considered “safety officers” and may stop the play if they observe a dangerous situation.

A first-aid kit must be available on site.

Throwing at the competition targets is only allowed under the supervision of a referee.

Throwing at the training targets is only allowed if an official range officer is present. The range officer observes the throwing and intervenes before dangerous situations arise.

The rectangular area 30 feet in front of and 10 feet to both sides of the targets is roped off, only contestants and arbiters are allowed here. It is forbidden to stay behind the targets.

There is a minimum distance of 15 feet between the targets.

Participants under 18 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The main referee is always right. If you do not observe the rules, especially those meant for safety, you will be disqualified and asked to leave.

Every participant has to sign and accept the rules, and participates at his or her own risk.

Every participant must sign the waiver of liability.