medieval throwing axes

Axes in the Air: The Art of Medieval Axe Throwing

Medieval throwing axes are more than just weapons; they are iconic symbols of combat tactics used by fearless Viking warriors. Throughout history, these weapons have played a crucial role in warfare, making them a cornerstone of medieval weaponry. However, beyond their violent beginnings, the art of using these deadly weapons has transformed into a friendly competition that draws thrill-seekers from around the world.

In this article, we will delve into the historical significance of medieval throwing axes, exploring their evolution and the techniques used to throw them. We will also examine the role these weapons played in close-quarter combat, as well as shed light on famous Viking warriors renowned for their skill with throwing axes. Furthermore, we will take a closer look at the resurgence of axe throwing as an entertaining and competitive sport.

Key Takeaways

  • Medieval throwing axes played a crucial role in warfare and combat tactics used by Viking warriors.
  • Throwing techniques require skill and precision to effectively throw an axe.
  • Axe throwing is not just a violent practice, but has transformed into a friendly competition and recreational activity.
  • Choosing the right throwing axe and proper handling and safety are essential for a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Modern applications of throwing axes include survival training and entertainment industries.

The Evolution of Medieval Throwing Axes

Medieval throwing axes have a rich history, evolving from simple tools to deadly weapons used in combat. The earliest throwing axes were basic in design, with a sharpened head attached to a wooden handle.

However, as warfare evolved, so did the throwing axes. Vikings, known for their fierce reputation as warriors, were considered to be experts in using throwing axes in battle. They developed axe designs that were not only efficient for throwing but also perfect for close combat.

Axe Type Design Usage
Dane Axe A long two-handed axe with a large, heavy blade and a pointed tip. Used for both throwing and melee combat. Ideal for breaking through shields and armor.
Francisca Axe A small throwing axe with a curved blade and a short handle. Used for throwing in a looping motion, allowing for greater accuracy and distance.
Bearded Axe An axe with a long cutting edge that curves at the end, resembling a beard. Used for throwing and close combat, as the curve allows for hooking and disarming opponents.

The development of these axe designs not only made them more effective in battle but also gave them a distinctive appearance that made them instantly recognizable as Viking weapons.

As medieval warfare progressed and new weapons were introduced, the use of throwing axes declined. However, they remained a popular choice for close-combat and continued to be used by some warriors well into the 16th century.

The Technique of Throwing Axes

Throwing a medieval axe requires skill, precision, and practice. Here we explore the technique behind throwing axes, including the stance, grip, and release.

The proper stance for throwing a medieval axe is crucial. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, perpendicular to the target. Your dominant foot should be slightly behind the other, allowing for a consistent throwing motion.

When gripping the axe, your dominant hand should grasp the handle at the bottom, while your other hand should be placed a few inches above it. Keep your hands close together, creating a strong grip that allows for a controlled swing.

As you bring the axe back, shift your weight to your back foot and raise the axe above your head. Take aim at the target and swing forward, releasing the axe with a flick of the wrist. Follow through with your swing, allowing the momentum to carry you forward.

Pro tip: Keep your eye on the target at all times, and focus on a smooth, fluid motion. Don’t rush your swing, as haste leads to inaccuracy. Take your time and aim for consistency.

It’s important to note that no two individuals will throw an axe exactly the same way. Personal style and technique are part of what makes axe throwing so enjoyable. However, there are some key elements to keep in mind:

  • Keep your elbows close to your body, preventing your arms from flailing out to the sides.
  • Avoid tilting your head up or down, as this changes your depth perception and can cause you to miss the target.
  • Practice your release, finding a comfortable flick of the wrist that works for you.

With practice and patience, even a beginner can become proficient at throwing medieval axes. Experiment with your technique, try different grips and stances, and most importantly, have fun!

The Importance of Axe Throwing in Medieval Warfare

Axe throwing was an integral part of medieval warfare, providing warriors with a versatile and lethal weapon for both long-range and cqc (close-quarters combat) situations. The viking warriors were particularly skilled in the art of throwing axes, using them to devastating effect in battles across Europe.

One of the key advantages of throwing axes was their adaptability. These weapons could be used for both offense and defense, with a skilled warrior able to hurl an axe with accuracy and power from distances of up to 40 feet. In a battle scenario, throwing axes allowed fighters to engage enemies from a safe distance, diminishing the opponent’s ranks from the safety of their own.

Axe throwing was also effective in cqc situations, with a warrior able to switch from ranged to short-range combat without the need to switch weapons. In close-quarters, throwing axes had the advantage of being able to deliver a deadly blow with minimal effort.

Another tactical advantage of throwing axes was their ability to penetrate armor. These weapons could inflict significant damage to both armored and unarmored opponents, providing a versatile weapon that could be used in a variety of scenarios and situations.

In addition to their tactical advantages, throwing axes also played a significant role in the psychological warfare of medieval combat. The sound of an axe whizzing through the air could intimidate the enemy, creating fear and disrupting their morale. The sight of a skilled warrior hurling an axe with precision and accuracy could also demoralize the opposition, undermining their confidence and resolve.

Examples of Axe Throwing in Medieval Warfare

Battle Year Description
Battle of Stamford Bridge 1066 Harald Hardrada, the Norwegian king, was struck in the neck by an Englishman wielding a throwing axe. The wound was fatal and ended the Norwegian invasion of England.
Battle of Hastings 1066 The Norman army used throwing axes and other missile weapons to engage the English army from a distance, weakening their ranks before charging with melee weapons.
Crusades 1095-1291 The knights of the crusading armies often carried throwing axes as a secondary weapon, using them to good effect against their Muslim opponents.

As shown in the above table, throwing axes were used in major battles and conflicts throughout medieval history, proving their effectiveness in a variety of scenarios and situations.

Overall, the importance of axe throwing in medieval warfare cannot be overstated. These weapons provided tactical advantages, psychological warfare, and adaptability in a variety of combat situations.

Famous Viking Warriors and their Throwing Axes

Medieval throwing axes were a favored weapon among Viking warriors, renowned for their combat skills and bravery. Here are some of the most famous Viking warriors known for their prowess with throwing axes:

Viking Warrior Notable Achievements Preferred Throwing Axe Design
Erik the Red Founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland Double-bladed throwing axe
Ragnar Lothbrok Legendary hero of Nordic sagas and leader of Viking raids on England and France Bearded throwing axe
Leif Erikson Explorer who discovered North America, potentially before Columbus Long-handled throwing axe

These warriors employed various tactics during battle, utilizing their throwing axes to incapacitate their enemies from a distance or as close-combat weapons when necessary. They were skilled in both offensive and defensive strategies, making them formidable opponents on the battlefield.

To this day, their legacy lives on, inspiring enthusiasts of medieval throwing axes and competitive axe throwing.

The Art of Throwing Axes in Friendly Competition

While medieval throwing axes were primarily used for combat, today, they are also popular in friendly competition. The sport of axe throwing has gained a significant following, with enthusiasts seeking the thrill of hitting a target with precision and accuracy.

Most axe throwing competitions involve throwing a single axe at a target, aiming to hit the bullseye or other designated point values on a scoring board. Targets are typically made of wood and divided into sections, with each section representing a different point value. Competitors take turns throwing their axes at the target, with the highest score at the end of the designated rounds winning the competition.

Rules of Axe Throwing

There are several rules and etiquette guidelines that must be followed during axe throwing competitions:

  • Only one person throws an axe at a time, and all other participants must be behind the throwing line.
  • Axes must be inspected before use to ensure they are in good condition and safe to throw.
  • Participants must always wear closed-toe shoes and may not consume alcohol or drugs before or during the competition.
  • Axes must be thrown with one hand in an overhand motion, with the blade rotating towards the target.
  • The referee’s decision is final, and any arguments or disputes may result in disqualification.

Techniques of Axe Throwing

There are various techniques used in throwing an axe. Some of the most common techniques include:

  • The grip: Participants should hold the axe with both hands, placing their dominant hand near the bottom of the handle and their non-dominant hand towards the top.
  • The stance: Participants should stand with their feet shoulder-width apart, facing the target.
  • The release: Participants should aim for a smooth release of the axe, letting go of the handle with both hands at the same time and following through with their throwing motion.

Practicing these techniques will enhance a participant’s accuracy and precision in hitting the target.

Etiquette of Axe Throwing

Etiquette is crucial in axe throwing competitions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all participants.

Participants should always respect their opponents, the referee, and the equipment. They must also refrain from using foul language or disruptive behavior that can distract other participants or damage the facility. Good sportsmanship, fair play, and safety should always be top priorities in axe throwing competitions.

Choosing the Right Throwing Axe

When it comes to selecting a medieval throwing axe, there are various factors to consider. From the materials used to the design and weight, each aspect can affect the performance and accuracy of your throw. Here are some tips to help you choose the right throwing axe:

Axe Type Materials Design Weight
Viking Axe Carbon Steel Single-Bladed 1.5 – 2.5 lbs
Francisca Axe Iron or Steel Double-Bladed 1.5 – 2 lbs
Tomahawk Forged Steel Single-Bladed or Double-Bladed 1 – 2 lbs

Medieval Throwing Axes were typically made with high-quality materials like carbon steel, iron, or forged steel. The design of the axe blade can also impact its flight and penetration, with single-bladed axes generally being easier to throw for beginners. The weight of the axe is another crucial factor to consider, and it’s recommended to select a throwing axe between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds.

Additionally, it’s essential to choose an axe that feels comfortable in your hand and has a suitable overall length. Many throwing axes have an overall length of around 16-18 inches, but this can vary depending on the design and purpose of the axe.

Overall, the right throwing axe will depend on your personal preferences and throwing style. It’s essential to do thorough research and select a high-quality throwing axe that is well-suited to your needs.

The Importance of Safety Precautions and Proper Handling of Throwing Axes

When it comes to throwing axes, safety should always be the top priority. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions to avoid accidents and injuries. Here are some key safety measures to keep in mind:

  • Always wear appropriate protective gear, including eye and ear protection and closed-toe shoes.
  • Ensure that the throwing area is clear of any obstructions or distractions that could interfere with your throw or cause harm.
  • Handle the axe with care, making sure to always keep it pointed downward and away from others.
  • Before throwing, check the axe for any damage or defects that could affect its trajectory or cause it to break during use.
  • Never throw an axe in the direction of another person, even as a joke.
  • Designate a specific area for retrieving thrown axes, and make sure everyone is aware of its location.

By following these safety guidelines, you can ensure a fun and injury-free experience with throwing axes. Remember, while axe throwing can be an exciting and competitive activity, it’s important to always prioritize safety and proper handling of the weapon.

Techniques for Improving Axe Throwing Skills

Becoming a skilled axe thrower requires practice, patience, and a willingness to learn. Whether you aim to compete in friendly matches or master the art of medieval combat tactics, here are some techniques for improving your axe throwing skills:

  • Find the perfect grip: The way you hold an axe affects your aim and accuracy. Experiment with different grips, such as the hammer grip or the pinch grip, to find the one that works best for you.
  • Steady your stance: Your body posture and balance play a critical role in axe throwing success. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, distribute your weight evenly, and align yourself with the target.
  • Aim for the bullseye: To hit your target consistently, you need to focus on the center of the target. Use your dominant eye to aim and follow through with your throw.
  • Practice with different distances: Axe throwing involves different distances, from close-range to far-range throws. Practice at various distances, starting with easier ones and progressing to more challenging ones as you improve.
  • Train your muscle memory: Consistency is key in axe throwing. Train your muscle memory by repeating the same throwing motion over and over again until it becomes automatic.

By incorporating these techniques into your training routine, you can fine-tune your axe throwing skills and elevate your game to the next level.

“With enough practice, anyone can become a skilled axe thrower,” says Viking warrior and axe throwing enthusiast Erik the Red. “It’s all about finding your rhythm and developing a technique that works for you.”

The Art of Throwing Axes in Friendly Competition

Medieval throwing axes may have been primarily used in combat, but they have also become a popular recreational activity. Axe throwing has gained widespread popularity in recent years, with a growing number of venues offering axe throwing experiences to enthusiasts.

Axe throwing competitions are a friendly way for individuals to showcase their skills and compete against other enthusiasts. These events often involve several rounds of throwing axes at targets, with points being awarded based on the accuracy and placement of each throw.

The Rules of Axe Throwing Competitions

Rules for axe throwing competitions vary depending on the event. Still, typically, competitors must adhere to specific guidelines, such as:

  • Only throwing axes provided by the venue are allowed
  • Axes must be thrown from behind a designated line
  • Participants must throw one axe at a time
  • No one is permitted to retrieve axes until all competitors have finished their throws

Axe Throwing Etiquette

Just like any other sport, axe throwing has its own set of etiquettes that participants must follow. These etiquette rules ensure everyone’s safety while still having a great time. Some of the etiquettes include:

  • Always wear closed-toe shoes
  • Stay behind the designated line while other people are throwing axes
  • Never handle someone else’s axe without their permission
  • Respect other participants at all times

The Camaraderie of Axe Throwing

Axe throwing competitions have a unique camaraderie. Participants are often cheering for each other, exchanging tips, and rooting for the underdog. Even when competing against each other, axe throwers form a special bond over their love of the craft.

For those looking for a thrilling and unique experience, axe throwing competitions are a must-try. The combination of adrenaline, friendly competition, and historical significance of medieval throwing axes creates an unforgettable experience for all participants.

Modern Applications of Medieval Throwing Axes

While medieval throwing axes were once primarily used for combat, they have found their place in modern times as well.

Nowadays, throwing axes are often used in wilderness survival training as a means of hunting and self-defense. The compact and lightweight design of these weapons makes them easy to carry and handle, making them an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

In addition to survival training, throwing axes have also become popular in the entertainment industry. Axe throwing competitions and events have gained a following, with participants showcasing their skills in a fun and thrilling atmosphere.

“Throwing axes has become a unique and exciting way to bond with friends and family, and even team building exercises,” says Jacob from Axe Throwing Society. “It’s a skill that takes time and practice to master, but the thrill of hitting the bullseye is unbeatable.”

Whether it’s for survival or entertainment, the versatility and historical significance of medieval throwing axes make them a fascinating and enduring weapon.


Axes have been an integral part of warfare for centuries, and medieval throwing axes were no exception. As we explored in this article, these weapons evolved from rudimentary designs to become essential tools for Viking warriors.

While axe throwing was primarily used as a combat tactic, it also developed into a popular recreational activity. Today, axe throwing has evolved into a competitive sport and is now enjoyed by many enthusiasts around the globe.

Whether you’re interested in historical reenactments or modern-day axe throwing competitions, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Proper handling and protective gear are critical for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Throwing axes may be intimidating at first, but with practice, anyone can improve their skills. Remember, it’s not just about strength; technique and precision play a significant role in throwing an axe accurately.

From improving your accuracy to finding the perfect throwing axe, there are plenty of ways to enhance your experience with medieval throwing axes. Whether you’re a history buff or an adrenaline junkie, the art of axe throwing has something to offer everyone.

Explore the Art of Axe Throwing Today

Discover the thrill of medieval throwing axes for yourself by trying out this exciting activity. Whether you’re looking for a unique way to bond with friends or want to improve your combat tactics, axe throwing offers an experience like no other.

Visit your local axe throwing arena or purchase your own throwing axe to start your axe throwing journey today. Who knows, you may even uncover a hidden talent as a Viking warrior!


What are medieval throwing axes?

Medieval throwing axes were weapons used in combat during the Middle Ages. They were designed to be thrown at enemies from a distance, often by skilled warriors.

How did medieval throwing axes evolve over time?

Medieval throwing axes evolved from simple tools to sophisticated weapons. They underwent changes in design, materials, and usage techniques to become more effective in combat.

What is the technique for throwing axes?

Throwing axes requires a specific technique. It involves adopting a proper stance, gripping the axe correctly, and releasing it with precision and control.

Why were throwing axes important in medieval warfare?

Throwing axes played a crucial role in medieval warfare. They provided tactical advantages in battle, such as ranged attacks, close-quarters combat, and versatility in various combat situations.

Which Viking warriors were famous for their throwing axes?

Several Viking warriors gained fame for their skills with throwing axes, including Ragnar Lothbrok, Ivar the Boneless, and Bjorn Ironside. They were renowned for their strategic use of these weapons in battles.

How is axe throwing enjoyed in friendly competition?

Axe throwing has become a popular recreational activity in which participants engage in friendly competition. Rules, techniques, and etiquette are followed to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

How can I choose the right throwing axe?

When choosing a throwing axe, consider factors such as the type of axe, materials used, and design features that suit your individual preferences and skill level.

What safety precautions should I take when handling throwing axes?

It is essential to prioritize safety when handling throwing axes. Use appropriate protective gear, handle the axe responsibly, and establish a safe environment for throwing.

Are there techniques to improve axe throwing skills?

Yes, there are various techniques and tips to enhance your axe throwing skills. These include target selection, practice routines, and focusing on accuracy and consistency.

Are there unique competitions and events dedicated to axe throwing?

Yes, axe throwing has gained popularity beyond casual recreation. There are unique competitions and events where participants can showcase their axe throwing skills and enjoy the competitive spirit and camaraderie of the sport.

How are medieval throwing axes used in modern applications?

Aside from historical reenactments, throwing axes have found applications in modern fields such as wilderness survival training and the entertainment industry, where they are used for stunts and performances.