It was love at first thump. The first time Scott Brindle threw an ax in 2021, the noise of the blade biting into the target board hooked him. Now, only 18 months later, he’ll be traveling to Appleton, Wis., to participate in the 2022 World Axe and Knife Throwing Championships — his second time participating in the series.
Originally from New Jersey, Brindle left his home state in 2015 following the dissolution of his marriage. He eventually settled in the secluded community of Sandy Mush Township, west of Leicester in Buncombe County.
In 2021, while working as the food and beverage manager at Sky Lanes, he befriended a set of regulars from the Asheville Sport & Social Club. The group soon introduced Brindle to the local ax throwing scene. Though initially reluctant about the activity, he eventually joined them in the fun. “We ended up winning a little tournament at Axeville [Axe Throwing Club],” he says.
From there, Brindle participated in a Marathon League in Hickory, where contestants threw in 28 games within a single day. Multiple world champions attended, as did a number of throwers who had been featured on ESPN. Despite their success, Brindle notes, the group was warm and welcoming.
“They went out of their way to give me tips on how I could improve my game,” he says. “And now, I’m high on the leaderboard, and they couldn’t be happier. This community is superspecial.”
Xpress recently sat down with Brindle to discuss misconceptions about the sport, the ways in which ax throwing has helped him get through difficult times and advice he has for those interested in tossing a blade.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Do you find that there are misconceptions associated with the ax throwing scene?
Yes — 100%. Honestly, the biggest misconception is that it’s dangerous. It’s so odd to me when people give the response that sharp thing equals danger. The hatchet is 2 pounds. I can guarantee that you have thrown something that is 2 pounds in your life. I can also guarantee that that 2-pound object has gone at least 12 feet. When it goes 12 feet, you’re not exactly worried about it. That’s why you throw it 12 feet away. That’s what the sport is. It’s a hatchet that’s being thrown away from you.
And there’s not a single person who can’t throw a 2-pound hatchet. I’ve been beaten by 12-year-old girls and boys as well as by a 75-year-old man. There’s no limit to finding the love of the thump and finding the joy in watching a 4-inch blade land on a 1 1/2-inch target from 12 feet away.
Beyond the initial camaraderie you found in the sport, what inspired you to compete?
For 15 or 20 years, I put that competitive side of me away. But it always sort of came out when I was a bartender or a waiter — I wanted to have the most sales. Eventually, I tried archery, I tried shooting, but neither felt the same way it felt when I tried ax throwing. Plus, once you’re in your 40s, the shock that follows certain physical strain is shocking. It’s like going to the gym isn’t even fun anymore.
Ax throwing allows me to have that competitiveness without that physical pain, if that makes any sense.
Has the sport changed the way you approach life?
I was adopted and abused as a kid. My best friend took his own life in 2000. My other best friend passed away from colon cancer in 2006. I got married at 30, and my wife and I had a little baby boy. And then I found out when he was 9 months old that he wasn’t mine. I was going to bed every night hoping I wouldn’t wake up. This has changed. Now, right after breakfast, I’m out on my property’s target range — this big old yellow school bus with spray-painted boards hung from it. That’s what makes me happy.
How has the sport itself changed over time?
Since 2017, ax throwing has become [one of] the fastest-growing sports in the world. At the world championships, we have people from Australia, Canada, Norway, England, Mexico and all over the United States. And we’ve expanded the pool this year from 128 to 256 competitors. So, we’re going to have even more representation from around the world. No matter where you go in the world, you can find people that are doing what we’re doing.
What advice can you share with anyone who wants to try ax throwing?
Throw the sharp stuff. The only people that don’t like to throw the sharp stuff are the people that haven’t yet thrown the sharp stuff. I really do truly believe that. I truly believe that once you get into that ax venue and start throwing, it’s going to put a smile on your face.
Lastly, and in honor of Halloween, who is your favorite sharp-object-wielding fictional character?
Man, I love Chucky!