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Half Axe: The History of Us, the Axe, & Axe Throwing

July 13, 2022


Outside the Apex Entertainment Center in Marlborough, MA

Hey there, we’re Half Axe! We opened in February of 2018 inside the Apex Entertainment center in Marlborough, MA, where we still are today. We are the first International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) axe house in New England. After our opening, others have opened in the region – which is great news for the sport of axe throwing!

Since opening, Half Axe has blossomed into what it is today! We prioritize safety and fun, as expected. We try to emulate those qualities with an emphasis on inclusiveness with our welcoming comic book branding. To encourage the growth of the sport and community, we established our leagues starting in September of 2018 and have been running them since. 

One of our first leagues in 2018

Where the Half Axe Idea Was Born

The idea for Half Axe began in Canada – where the sport officially originated! The owner, Derek, was at a gaming convention in search of his next endeavor since graduating college. While there, he happened to try out axe throwing. Derek thought he was going to go with the videogame route, but something clicked for him. He couldn’t get his axe throwing experience out of his head. From there, he decided to bring axe throwing down to the states. At the time, there were only a handful of venues throughout the country. 

An axe in the bullseye

Did axe throwing really start in the city of Toronto?

Axe throwing started as an official sport in a backyard of the founder, Matt Wilson. In 2006 as reported by the International Axe Throwing Federation, an organization founded in 2016 to service the sport globally. However, Canadians of the 21st century weren’t the first ones to ever throw an axe. 

The First Axe

One of the first tools ever made was the axe, and it has been around since the Stone Ages. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the axe originated as a more simple stone version of the tool. The wooden handles we usually associate with axes came to be around 30,000 BC. Egyptians used copper-bladed axes until around 4,000 BC. Then the blades transitioned to bronze, and then eventually iron.

The iron-bladed axe is what made vast forest clearance possible in the Middle Ages for the development of agriculture in northwestern Europe, and later eastern Europe, Scandinavia, North and South America, and more. Nowadays, most axes are made with a steel blade and are often replaced with power tools/saws. Great, now where does axe throwing come in? 

Norwegian Battle Axe

Basic to Battle

Eventually the axe evolved from a basic tool to a weapon, known as the battle axe. Battle axes ranged in weight from 1 to 6 lb. Melee axes were heavier and longer than those used for throwing. These battle axes were initially used in Northern Europe – Scandinavia – during the Viking Age (800-1100 AD). The battle axe was so effective that it carried over to the Medieval Ages (1100-1600 AD) where foot soldiers typically used them, whereas the knights on horseback used swords. 

Tomahawks

Of course, there’s also the tomahawk, a war hatchet developed by the Algonquin Tribes, such as the Mohegan, Ojibwe, and Cree tribes just to name a few. The numerous Algonquin Tribes resided in much of the Northeastern, Midwest, and Great Plains of the present-day United States, and Eastern Provinces of present-day Canada, such as Quebec and Ontario, even as west as Alberta. The word, “tomahawk” was derived from the Algonquian word otomahuk, which means “to knock down.” Early versions had a head of stone tied to a handle with rawhide or animal sinew. Tomahawk heads were often made of iron after the arrival of Europeans and trading.

Logging Sports

Once the need for various warriors throwing axes for defense subsided, then came logging sports. According to the Canadian Logging Sports Association, the history of loggers’ sports in Canada goes back over a century when loggers would spend evenings and weekends around lumber camps testing their skills against one another throwing axes, sawing and chopping timber to see who was the best lumberjack. This eventually evolved into organized competitions and through the fifties and sixties several smaller organizations popped up across the country. There’s also prominent competitions in the USA, such as the NYS Woodsmens Field Days in Boonville, NY since 1948. There are still logging sports/woodsmen competitions to this day internationally to keep the traditions alive, though probably not as popular as they once were. 

This brings us full circle back to Toronto, Canada when axe throwing became its own official sport. So, no of course the first axe wasn’t thrown in 2006, but now we have a sport for everyone that’s fairly simple to start and has a solid community around you while you master it!