Playing Against the ‘Axe-pert’ Reveals More Practice Needed

By David Biggy | Jul 17, 2019

Stafford Township, NJ — Luke Searles knows a thing or two about throwing an ax. That’s why he’s one of the “axe-perts” at Axe-It 63 in Stafford Township.

“I can’t throw double-handed,” he said. “It’s just not a comfortable way to throw for me. I’m OK underhanded, but I prefer the overhand throw.”

And he’s good, too. I found out the hard way.

After learning I had planned to stop by the newly opened hatchet house, located in the Driftwood Plaza on Route 72, Searles figured he’d rather not challenge me to miniature golf – like many others have for the summer – but instead challenged me to an ax-throwing match. I hadn’t thrown an ax in about 30 years, when I frequently did so while out in the woods during my scouting years. Still, challenge accepted.

After I arrived and took a few minutes to complete the liability waiver, it was time to pick my weapon – I selected a wooden-handled hatchet, instead of one of the rubber-handled ones (it just felt better in my hand) – and practiced a little. After all, it had been a long time since I threw one of these things.

Back in the day, I used to throw axes at random tree stumps or dead trees at long distances, in the 15- to 20-yard range, so 12 feet seemed a bit short to me at first. But after a dozen practice throws, I found my general release point and figured we might as well get this over with.

“OK, you’re ready?” Luke asked, and I nodded my reply. “Let’s get to it. You want to go first?”

No way. I wanted to see the “axe-pert” throw the first ax for real. Better to defer and see what I was really up against. The basics of this particular game were simple – five throws per round, total points wins, and the best of three wins the match. No problem.

With a pair of bull’s-eyes on my third and fourth throws, I ended up winning the first round, 17-10. After switching lanes, I couldn’t get my ax to stick in the new center board installed just before our match, and I ended up losing, 12-8, in the second round. For the third round, Searles delivered a pair of bull’s-eyes on his first two throws and went on to win, 16-8.

In a second match, I hit the bull’s-eye on four of my five throws and won, 23-20, but Luke won the first two rounds, 15-13 and 23-13, to knock me off. In a third match, we were tied in the first round after four throws, but my fifth throw didn’t stick the center, and he scored a three-point shot to win, 21-18. From there he smoked me with scores of 15-6 and 21-13. Later on, he won three straight again.

“That was fun. Thanks for playing, Biggy,” he said. “Come back and play me anytime.”

Not bad for a first try. I’ll probably go back to play him again at some point, maybe after I’ve practiced some more in the woods.

— David Biggy

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