Hatchet Throwing Safety
We have heard from many of our camps that hatchet throwing is an increasingly popular activity. When executed safely, it can be a rewarding and exciting experience for campers—but managing hatchet throwing in a camp environment requires careful preparation and rigorous supervision.
Below are some recommendations for managing hatchet throwing in a camp environment:
- Select a location for the activity that is far away from pedestrian traffic.
- Select an area that has enough empty space around it. 50 yards behind the targets and 20 yards on each side of the range is recommended.
- Clearly mark the perimeter of the area that you select.
- On the outskirts of the perimeter, place signs to alert others that this activity is going on.
- When creating your course, include an area that is specifically designated for sharing safety information and instructions.
- When setting up your course, it is important to have two different lines on the range that are at least 5ft from each other:
- Waiting Line: A place where campers will wait for their turn to throw.
- Throwing Line: This line indicates where campers should stay when throwing. Due to the fact that the hatchets could bounce back after being thrown, it is important to make sure this line is anywhere from 12-16ft from the target.
- For an extra layer of protection, consider adding a wall that covers camper’s knees. This will help protect the lower half of the body in the event that the hatchet ricochets back after being thrown.
- If multiple campers will be throwing hatchets at the same time, the lanes will need to have at least 4ft between them to prevent campers from potentially hitting each other.
- It’s important to make sure that hatchets are sized correctly for campers to be able to throw them. The recommended weight is between 1.5-3.5lbs.
- When picking out your location; we recommend wood, mulch, foam or turf grass ground surfaces. These materials will help prevent damage to the hatchets.
- In order to make sure that hatchets do not bounce back or break through the target, targets will need to be made of wood that is at least 1-3/4″ thick.
- When creating a wooden target, it is recommended that the wood grain patterns are vertical. This allows the hatchet to more easily penetrate the target.
Staffing the Program
- During programming, you will need to have at least one staff member present at all times who is trained and certified in hatchet throwing. This is true even if another staff member is present who is currently in-training.
- If a staff member is not certified or in-training, they should not be responsible for supervising any campers who are throwing hatchets—but they can supervise the waiting line, or provide other logistical support.
- Develop a staff protocol and alternative programming if the certified staff member is unavailable to run the program.
- Before every session, staff will need to:
- Check that there are no obstacles that could pose a danger anywhere in the designated area.
- Inspect the targets for cracks or damage.
- Inspect the hatchets for cracked or splintered handles and damaged or loose heads.
- The hatchets that are used for your program cannot be used for any maintenance purposes. This will eliminate possible wear and tear.
- Develop a protocol for how these hatchets will be locked up after programming.
- For any camper under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian should give consent and sign a waiver for their child to participate.
- Before every session, campers will need to be given full instructions and watch a demonstration.
- Campers will need to wear closed toe shoes, and instructors will need to check participants for any clothing that could obstruct a camper’s throwing movement or vision—for example scarves, hoods or loose fitting clothing.
- The correct technique for hatchet throwing is to throw them vertically. The hatchet should never be thrown backwards or from the side.
- When one camper is done throwing, they will need to place the hatchet in the designated area rather than passing it off to the next camper. This will help the next camper pick the hatchet up safely.
- Always use two hands to remove the axe from the target.
- If more than one camper is throwing a hatchet at the same time, everyone needs to have completed their throw before anyone can retrieve their hatchet.