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Newfoundland and Labrador duo headed to world axe-throwing championships

Jordan Doyle, left, and Ryan Lane are bound for Tuscon, Arizona in early December for the 2019 World Axe Throwing Championships.
Jordan Doyle (left) and Ryan Lane are bound for Tuscon, Arizona in early December for the 2019 World Axe Throwing Championships. - Andrew Robinson

December event to air on American cable channel ESPN

Ryan Lane admits to changing his throwing style a few times since he first attempted axe throwing at Jack Axes in downtown St. John's.

"I've already changed my throw a half-dozen times, easily," he said. "Usually, after attending a major tournament, competing, watching and seeing how other people throw and what works for them, I sort of decide whether I want to give that a try. I might change axes or I might change throws to see what works best. Some people throw two handed. Some people throw one handed. Some people step when they throw. Some people don't."

In any case, the St. John's resident has become pretty handy at hitting the bullseye. He's one of two competitors from Newfoundland and Labrador flying to Arizona next month for the 2019 World Axe Throwing Championships in Tucson.

Lane came down to Jack Axes with a work group in early 2018 and immediately took a liking to the sport, throwing a perfect game that night. He found out about the local throwing league a few months later and decided to give it a try. He won the regional league final in St. John's to qualify for the tournament. Lane attended the world championships as a wildcard last year, but failed to earn a spot in the main draw.

Jordan Doyle, who is from Avondale, first tried axe throwing six years ago in Toronto and picked it up again a few years later when he was home for a wedding. His love for axe throwing grew from there, and he now works at Jack Axes. Doyle earned his way to worlds through a lottery draw for a wildcard spot. He will still need to make 40 throws in a qualifying round to earn one of 10 wildcard spots in order to compete in the main draw, which will feature 64 throwers.

"I have an extra step to go through, but it's fortunate just to be able to go down and test my mettle," he said.

Axe throwing is a relatively new sport. The World Axe Throwing League (WATL) was founded in 2017 and includes competitors from over a dozen countries. The scoring system offers six points for hitting the bullseye and less for each of the rings surrounding it, with eight points up for grabs if you make what's called the killshot by hitting either one of the two small blue dots in the top corners (they're like the eyes matched with the bullseye nose). In a 10-throw game, you can only attempt to hit the blue dots on your fifth and tenth throw, and if you miss, you get no points for the throw.

"It's a big gamble with only a two-point reward," explained Lane. "Now two points is plenty going into the last axe, but generally speaking, most tournament throwers just take the six points that they're very likely going to get (from hitting the bullseye) as opposed to risking it just for an extra two-point advantage."

According to Doyle, WATL competitors generally make a full swing with their throws, as some competitions where the board is closer allow for people to simply flick their wrist to toss the axe. There has been some variation in this of late, with Doyle noting that the rules are continually evolving within what's still a young sport competitively. The throws are made from a distance of 12 feet.

Lane and Doyle both competed at the inaugural Canadian Open in Halifax earlier this year and saw some very strong competition there.

"Just watching the quality of throwing, it's just ridiculous," Lane said, noting there are throwers who can now make a killshot 80 per cent of the time they attempt it.

The championships take place Dec. 6-8. The conclusion of the event featuring the final six competitors will be air on cable sports channel ESPN in the United States on Dec. 8.

A fundraising event for Lane and Doyle takes place Sunday, Dec. 1 at Jack Axes from 12-5 p.m.

andrew.robinson@thetelegram.com
Twitter: @CBNAndrew


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