August 21, 2023

The Science of Axe Throwing 

Did you know that physics plays an important role in sports, including axe throwing?

Discovery Place scientists visited BATL Axe Throwing in Charlotte to meet competitive axe thrower Corben Decker and get a deeper look at the science behind this activity. In the content below the video, read some of the Q&A included in this episode. 

Discovery Place: What is axe throwing? 

Corben: It’s a bit of a weird sport. There are two different leagues that you can actually throw in. One has a step, one has no step. 

The no-step is kind of similar to throwing darts. With the step, it’s a little bit more like chopping wood. 

Discovery Place: Obviously, you’re throwing an axe which is a projectile motion. Projectile motion is the motion of an object thrown into the air, subject to the acceleration of gravity. The object is called a projectile, and its path is called its trajectory. 

Can you kind of walk us through what you’re thinking about? 

Corben: Whenever I’m actually throwing in a competition, I’m not thinking about anything. That’s the secret. I’m focused on only the point that I’m aiming at. I try and find a small point that I’m throwing at.

However, during practice, I’m adjusting wrist angle, finger angle, elbow location, shoulder location. I’m trying to get all of that inertia in one direction.

Discovery Place: Inertia is the tendency of an object in motion to remain in motion. Or an object at rest, to remain at rest until acted upon by a force.

Corben: You want basically a two-plane axis if you can. You don’t want to get into a third axis and have that off-angle rotation because it makes it a lot harder to stick in the wall.

Whenever I throw, I don’t use my shoulder, I don’t use my elbow and I try and use as little on my wrist as possible. And I’m just throwing by stepping. I’m using my body moving towards the board to generate a moment of inertia.