14 Austin axe throwers travel to compete in ‘world’s best’ Toronto tournament


AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 250 axe throwing all-stars will compete for $50,000 in prizes and a chance to claim the “World Champion” title this weekend at the International Axe Throwing Championship in Toronto, Ontario.

14 of the competitors are from Austin, who qualified from a pool of more than 10,000 league members worldwide.

“About 10,000 league members played a year’s worth of seasons in order to qualify for what they call ’round one,'” Austin axe thrower James Gregg said. “Round one is done remotely, and you compete against your peers at your venue for a certain number of allocated slots that that venue has based off of how many throwers they have in the federation.”

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One of those 14 from Austin is Gregg. He throws for Urban Axes located in the area. A birthday birthed the axe aficionado’s love of the sport.

He was one of the Austinites practicing Monday evening before they head out Thursday for Toronto. The tournament is a 256-person, double-elimination bracket. It boasts the largest prize pool in urban axe throwing history. The champion will be determined over two days, Feb. 15-17. It will be the second time Gregg is competing for a championship. He mentioned what the first time was like:

“It’s the most electric environment I’ve ever competed in, in anything.”

The originally Canadian sport has been around in Austin for over two years and continually gets more competitive.

“The very top score Austin had last year to go to the same championships… that score would not make it this year,” Gregg said.

Throwing tech-niche

(Juan Salinas/KXAN)

Competitors vary in how they throw.

“You’re gonna see different styles depending on who it is you’re seeing throw,” Gregg said. “But generally the idea is we want to facilitate the rotation of the axe.”

Gregg listed three factors for facilitation:

  • Efficiency of movement
  • Eliminates variables
  • Motivating step and hand-finish

“It’s a lot of finesse, it’s not much strength at all,” Gregg said.

For Austinite axe thrower Michael Dolan, he does it a little differently.

“For me, I like to do more of a controlled flick throw,” Dolan said. “Which basically just requires a lot of attention to detail for body mechanics… I’m really paying attention to what my wrist and elbow are doing as well as my footwork, making sure my shoulders and my hips are kind of aligned with where I want to throw.”

Those interested in competing or wanting to book a session can visit Urban Axes’ website.

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