More than 60 competitors from all over the globe are gearing up to swing an ax and hope for the bull’s-eye.
It’s the 2019 World Axe Throwing Championship — and it’s being held at Marana’s own Splitting Timber.
The “Super Bowl of ax-throwing,” as Splitting Timber co-owner AJ Hughes calls it, runs over the course of three days, with the main event to be broadcast on ESPN on Sunday, Dec. 8.
“It’s incredibly exciting and we’re honored to bring such a prestigious event to Tucson,” Hughes says.
“This is not some little tournament we’re hosting,” she says. “It’s the World Axe Throwing Championship.”
Hughes, who also owns Escape Room Tucson on North Oracle Road, opened Splitting Timber with her daughter Bee Buckmaster in 2018.
“It’s fun, it’s exciting, and we get to watch people have fun every single day,” Hughes says. “Sometimes I’ll sit in the lobby and you can just hear the cheers and the roar of laughter. The environment is incredible; it’s difficult to have a bad time.”
Splitting Timber is located in the Tucson Premium Outlets at 6401 W. Marana Center Blvd. The facility is an affiliate of the World Axe Throwing League, which has more than 250 venues worldwide.
Two of Splitting Timber’s league members qualified for the WATL championship and four were invited to compete for a wildcard spot.
The championship also features dual teams — about 10-12 Tucson teams are competing in the duals.
But as the name states, the championship is global. Competitors this year hail from Venezuela, Bosnia, Ireland, Canada and all over the United States.
“It’s going to be great for Tucson to see how tight-knit, supportive and encouraging the ax-throwing community is,” Hughes says. “You might have a CEO of a company throwing next to an 11-year-old. You might have a biker throwing next to an accountant. It’s incredible — the walks of life. Everyone gets together and is supportive of each other.”
In fact, Hughes’ 11-year-old grandson Jaruth is competing in the duals tournament and in a special kids’ competition this year. He will be among the youngest competing.
As you can imagine, the scores in ax-throwing are dependent on precision and accuracy.
“It’s all about strategy,” Hughes says. “You might not always go for the kill shot.
“It’s not about strength,” she adds. “It’s about finesse.”
The three-day championship begins Friday, Dec. 6, with wildcard competitors, followed by the playoffs on Saturday, Dec. 7. Come Sunday, Dec. 8, at 1 p.m., the top six competitors will go head to head for a $15,000 prize, with one set of duals competing for $1,500. Sunday’s event will be on ESPN.
If you’d rather watch the championship in person, you can visit Splitting Timber for free all three days, where they’ll have food trucks, a beer garden and a DJ. Just remember to wear close-toed shoes — you won’t get in without them.
If you’re dropping by on Sunday, it’s recommended to arrive early. Space is limited and attendees must be in their seats before 12:30 p.m. Visit tucne.ws/championship for the full schedule.