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How to Throw an Axe and Hit the Bullseye Viking-Style!

Updated: Mar 6

Want to know how to throw an axe? If you are lucky enough to live near York, UK or are visiting the area, you’ll want to be prepared to visit The Hilt, York's first indoor axe throwing venue.

So let’s get down to the skills required for throwing an axe at a target. If you’re planning to visit with friends or family it’s smart to read up ahead of time and pick up a few tips. After all, you don’t want to be the loser or you could find yourself buying everyone a round afterwards!

The History Of Axe Throwing

Before you can learn how to throw an axe, it’s a good idea to get into character by learning a bit about the history of axe throwing. Axe-throwing dates back to the 3rd century AD when it was developed in southern Germany by the Franks.

These tribes occupied the Lower and Middle Rhine at the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire at that time. They were farming people who would have used axes for everyday woodcutting but found they came in handy when called upon to fight. They went into battle on foot armed with angons (spears) and franciscas (short-handled axes) which they threw to initiate the battle. The axes were intended to shatter the shields and armour of their enemies.

The practice of axe-throwing was far more widespread in Europe during the Middle Ages. Viking warriors were thought to be the first tribes to design an axe specifically for war. The Viking battle axe usually had a curved blade which had a lower hook or beard, hence they were known as “bearded axes”. Other axes had twin blades, one on either side of the wooden shaft. They were highly sharpened and Vikings would practice their axe-throwing skills in competitions before heading out to war.

Axes were widely used in combat when warriors threw the axes in an overhand motion (a bit like bowling). They would learn how to throw an axe with an added spin which would make the axe rotate as it flew through the air.

As a sport, axe-throwing is still alive and kicking (and not just at The Hilt in York). Axe-throwing is popular in lumberjack competitions which are often held in the USA and Canada. Expert axe-throwers aim to allow the axe to rotate perfectly through 360 degrees before piercing the target with the sharpened edge of the blade.

Axe-throwing is just one of the hands-on things you can do in York. Check out 9 more top things to do in York to fill your visit.

How To Throw Axes Like Pillaging Vikings

Follow these steps for how to throw an axe and you’ll hit the bullseye!

Step 1-

Flex those fingers, adopt a grimacing, Viking-like expression and grip the axe. Find where the shaped handle feels most comfortable and wrap your fingers around with the firmness of a strong handshake. You can throw one-handed or two-handed; whatever feels best for you.

Step 2-

Armed for battle, step up to the line with one foot forward and the other back. Adopt a comfortable stable position with your shoulders and hips parallel to the wall. You’ll probably find you throw best with your dominant foot behind you (forget that best-foot-forward advice on this occasion!)

Step 3-

Adopt your “ready” position, lifting the axe over your shoulder to tap your shoulder blade. Check your elbow is tucked in and pointing straight ahead at the target.

Step 4-

Breathe in, breathe out then step forward, bringing that dominant rear foot forward while swinging the axe through the air in an arc with a downward chopping motion. Don’t forget to let go of the axe at the 45 degree point, throwing the axe from your elbow, not your shoulder or wrist.

Step 5-

Watch your axe rotate through the air, head over hilt, as it heads towards the target, hopefully with the tip of the blade landing firmly in the bullseye.

Step 6-

Make your victory dance, leap up and down and let everyone know you did well by letting out a whooping battle cry while friends applaud and cheer. Alternatively, slink quietly to the back of the stall and make a firm resolve to do better with your next throw.

Got it? Maybe do a few practice “virtual” throws at home (just to loosen up of course). And remember,“winning isn’t everything, but it beats coming second”.




Tips for how to have the most fun throwing axes.


Plan a few different challenges such as who throws the best two-handed throw, who gets their axe on the board 3 times in a row, and who gets to score the bull’s eye first. This thrill is why many choose to have their stag do in York.)

When you’re not throwing, you can take photos or videos and share with absent friends and colleagues on social media so they can enjoy the fun.

Finish this fantastic activity in the bar, exchanging “war stories” over drinks and tasty snacks.

It’s Time To Throw!

OK, now you know exactly how to throw an axe so gather some mates, book your slot and try it for yourself at The Hilt. It’s fun, it’s easy, and we guarantee it will be a talking point for years to come.

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