BILLINGS – Ax throwers from five states traveled to Öx Indoor Ax Throwing in Billings on Saturday to compete in the World League’s regional mountain ax throwing spring tournament.
“It’s a big deal for us to be able to welcome these two years into our professional life here. It is an honor to be selected for this, ”said Nick Richardson, Öx owner and head coach.
The event was the first-ever league-sanctioned tournament to take place in Öx, said Richardson. A total of 27 pitchers, including Billings Öx team of 11, competed in the hatchet events on Saturday. The pitchers came from Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Washington to compete.
The sport of ax throwing is relatively new to the modern age. The sport’s governing body, the World Ax Throwing League, was formed in 2017. Since then there has been 334 affiliates who have joined the league from all over the world. Throwing axes were originally used for combat in the first century by the Franks.
For the ax competition, the pitchers threw the blades 12 feet into the lane hoping to hit a target, battling for points for 10 pitches in the best two of three games.
Richardson said the sport is for all ages.
“The learning curve is pretty quick once you get the groove on and figure out how to throw the axes. It gets pretty easy pretty quickly. It’s really for everyone. Our youngest competitor is 14 and up. old we’ve had in the gym is 94. We’ve had men and women of all ages who came out to enjoy the sport. It’s incredibly cool to watch, “said Richardson.
Richardson said the Billings team are doing well in the tournament, given the tough competition they face.
“We’re doing pretty well, for those new to the sport. I mean, a lot of these guys, we have at least five of the top 20 in the world in building today, ”said Richardson.
Ax throwing was brought to Billings in the summer of 2019 by Richardson and his parents, Mark and Becky. The family initially opened a store at 1711 Sixth Ave. N., but moved after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Now axes are being thrown at 119 Rhea Lane, the former location of Billings Gymnastics School.
“We had a very good race there. It was slow at first and things started to improve very well just before COVID-19. Then COVID-19 hit and we ended up shutting down the old location and finding a bigger space because we thought we would eventually need it, ”said Richardson.
The three-day tournament continues on Sunday, with the big ax and duel competitions. Spectators are welcome to the event.
On days when there is no competition, Öx is open to the public to throw axes for a fee. Richardson said he’s seen people as young as six, up to 94, having fun throwing axes.
“We can teach anyone to throw an ax. We probably have a 99.9% success rate, ”said Richardson.
Reservations aren’t required, but are recommended, Richardson said. There is a team of nine coaches ready to help clients drive the blade into the wood. Just wear a pair of closed-toe shoes. Click here to visit the Öx Indoor Ax Throwing website. To view tournament results, visit the league’s website in clicking here.
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