BILLINGS — Axe throwers from five states turned out to Öx Indoor Axe Throwing in Billings Saturday to compete in the World Axe Throwing League Mountain Regional Spring Tournament.
“It’s a pretty big deal for us to be able to host this two years into our business-life here. It’s an honor to be selected for this," said Nick Richardson, owner and head coach at Öx.
A total of 27 throwers, including the Öx team of 11 from Billings, competed in the hatchet events Saturday. The throwers came from Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Washington to compete.
The sport of axe throwing is relatively new to the modern age. The sport's governing body, World Axe Throwing League, was formed in 2017. Since then, there have been 334 affiliates who have joined the league from around the world. Throwing axes were originally used for combat in the first century by the Franks.
For the hatchet competition, throwers tossed the blades 12 feet down the lane in hopes of hitting a target, competing for points during 10 throws in best two out of three matches.
Richardson said the sport is for all ages.
"It’s got a pretty quick learning curve once you find the groove and figure out how to throw the axes. It gets pretty easy pretty quick. It’s really for anybody. Our youngest competitor is 14 and the oldest that we’ve had in the venue is 94. We’ve had men and women of all ages come in and enjoy the sport. It’s been incredibly cool to see," Richardson said.
Richardson said the Billings team was doing well in the tournament, considering they were up against some tough competition.
“We’re doing pretty well, for novices to the sport. I mean, a lot of these guys, we have at least five of the top 20 in the world in the building today," Richardson said.
Axe throwing was brought to Billings in the summer of 2019 by Richardson and his parents, Mark and Becky. The family originally opened up shop at 1711 Sixth Ave. N., but moved locations after the COVID-19 pandemic started picking up in March 2020. Now, axes are thrown at 119 Rhea Lane, the former location of Billings Gymnastics School.
“We had a really good run there. It was slow at first and things started picking up really well right before COVID-19. Then COVID-19 hit and we ended up shutting down the old location and finding a bigger space, because we figured we would need it eventually," Richardson said.
The three-day tournament continues on Sunday, with the big axe and duals competitions. Spectators are welcome at the event.
On days there's not competition, Öx is open for the public to throw axes for a fee. Richardson said he's seen people as young as six years old, to as old as 94 years old have fun throwing axes.
“We can teach just about anybody to throw an axe. We’ve had probably a 99.9 percent success rate," Richardson said.
Reservations aren't required, but are recommended, Richardson said. There is a team of nine coaches ready to help customers stick the blade into the wood. All that's required is to wear a pair of closed-toed shoes. Click here to visit Öx Indoor Axe Throwing's web site. To view results from the tournament, visit the league's website by clicking here.