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Our Vision for Leagues in 2023 and Beyond

  • 8 min read

I apologize for the delay in communicating our plans for future leagues. This post has taken about 4 days to write and still feels unpolished.

At Total Axe Throwing, we prioritize transparency and want to make sure we are doing what is best for the entire axe throwing community. Over the past few months, we have spoken with a variety of axe throwers, including our own league players, community representatives, and ambassadors, to determine the best path forward.

After careful consideration, we have determined that neither of the current global axe throwing leagues fully align with the interests of the players. As such, we have decided to move forward with our own system for leagues.

Our goal is to make axe throwing a more enjoyable and welcoming sport for everyone. To that end, we are committed to moving as quickly as possible to implement our new league system.

We believe that the Olympic Creed – “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well” – is especially applicable to the inclusive and supportive community we strive to create at Total Axe Throwing.

Our Purpose

Our goal is to create a welcoming and inclusive community through axe throwing. We strive to provide a positive experience for throwers of all skill levels, with a focus on building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging. Our priority is to serve our customers and help them feel valued and supported.

Our Considerations

We believe that many aspects of axe leagues are flawed and continue to be problematic. One issue is that multiple fault lines and asymmetrical targets tend to favor taller throwers, giving them an inherent advantage. While it is possible for shorter players to succeed, they often have to work harder to overcome this disadvantage. We feel that, in order to level the playing field, height should not be a factor in determining success. All players, regardless of their height, should have an equal chance to succeed if they put in the necessary practice and effort.

While it is certainly impressive to achieve championships and other notable accomplishments, we believe that an individual’s worth should not be solely judged by their success in these areas. In our experience, only a small percentage of people who participate in our leagues have ever won a championship. However, each of these individuals has worked hard to earn their place on our walls and deserve recognition for their efforts. It is important to recognize and value the contributions and efforts of all participants, not just those who have achieved one specific milestones.

We value sportsmanship above all else. Axe Throwing is mostly a solo sport, but the efforts of good people help build the community and make us all feel like part of a team.

Sportsmanship is an essential aspect of any competitive activity and is often more important than simply winning. It is about showing respect for your opponents, the rules of the game, and the officials. Good sportsmanship demonstrates integrity and humility, and it helps to build positive relationships with those around you.

In contrast, a focus on winning at all costs can lead to negative behaviors such as bullying and poor treatment of opponents. This not only goes against the spirit of competition, but it can also have negative impacts on an individual’s character and reputation. In the long run, being a good sport and displaying good sportsmanship will likely lead to more fulfilling and successful experiences, both in sports and in other areas of life.

Increasingly, experienced players have been taking advantage of absences to gain extra matches when they are present. Like Vin has pointed out, more matches makes it easier to hit a hot streak. It also adds time when they do show up and it compounds when several people do it in the same league. There were nights when the end time of league would fluctuate over an hour based on who showed up and when.

Our Implementation

To address issues such as height differences, we have established a single fault line at 12 feet and designed the target with equal “corner” targets above and below the main target. This means that taller players will have an easier time hitting the high targets and a more challenging time hitting the low targets, while shorter players will have the opposite experience.

Additionally, we have made each ring on the target exponentially larger than the one inside of it. This is because most throwers tend to throw within inches of the bullseye after a few seasons, making bullseyes in other leagues relatively easy to hit. The points awarded for each hit are based on the size of the ring, with the 7 ring on the outer targets being smaller than the 6 ring on the main target, and the 5 point rings being the same size for both.

Players are allowed to throw at each outer ring once per game. This allows for more strategy in the game, as players must decide which targets to aim for based on their abilities and the current state of the game. By closing out rings after a hit, players cannot rely on hitting their most comfortable target repeatedly. A perfect match would require a player to consistently hit targets at all 3 heights.

We increased the number of matches in a night to 6 and no longer allow for makeups or early exits. We believe that the league is a commitment and there are other avenues for throwing if you only want to show up half of the time. We also expanded a normal season to 11 weeks to allow for more regular season matches to prepare for the playoffs. This means that when you do have to miss a week, the impact won’t be as large. We believe that these changes will result in more consistent ending times for players who consistently attend league nights and a more enjoyable experience for all.

Roadblocks and Pitfalls

As with everything in life, there are pros and cons to this decision. First, I’m taking a big risk in asking our league members to trust that I’m taking their wants and needs into consideration. Working with either of the large organization affords players an authority that disagreements can be appealed to. By going independent, the buck starts and stops with me. I promise to listen to everyone’s feedback, positive or negative, and give it the consideration it deserves. While I may not implement every change suggested, everyone will be heard and acknowledged.

Working with either of these organizations also afforded us many tools for success that we no longer have access to. In the short term, scheduling, processing results, and giving feedback on statistics will be delayed. At present, this is all being done by me and by hand. For the first week or two, it may take days, or even a week to get to these. By the end of the month, stats should be processed much quicker as we work with developers to create our own app for scheduling and scoring.

In discussing these changes with top-ranked throwers in the community, I received a lot of positive feedback and ideas on what needed to be changes. I also encountered many people who were resistant to change. It can be challenging to critique your own viewpoint or admit there may be faults in the routine you’ve had for years. In that vein, I need to remember to listen to negative feedback and differing viewpoints and not fall into the trap of listening only to those who agree with you or the mentality of “if people show up, it must be working.” Sometimes they show up because there’s no alternative.

Changes to League Rules

To make the transition easier, below is a summary of the major changes from previous leagues. Full rules are available here.

  • 6 matches per night – no makeups or front-loading matches
  • 12-foot fault line
  • Touch scoring
  • First shot of each game must be at the main target. After that, you can shoot the main target or call a corner. The same corner cannot be hit more than once per game.
  • No big axe in hatchet leagues
  • To participate in playoffs, you must make 70% of the regular season and be paid in full
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing is offered. If you don’t want to participate in playoffs, only pay for the weeks you show.

What Lies Ahead

There is a lot going on behind the scenes to keep Total Axe Throwing running. Currently, my main focus is on making sure everything is running smoothly and efficiently. Changing over targets and establishing rules for a new league was a significant undertaking, and now I have to manage schedules and process scores on a daily basis. I’m also trying to maintain our Axe Throwing Tournament Calendar, which is a significant undertertaking.

We have a full year schedule planned out, but it needs some final touches before it can be published. Season 2 is set to start in March, and we are considering adding big axe and potentially either knife or star league to our offerings.

We appreciate your support as we work to improve the community and the overall experience at Total Axe Throwing. Thank you for your continued patronage.