The Competition axe

From a basic tool to a piece of sports equipment

The axe has long been an essential item for forestry workers and fireplace-owners, and now it is becoming increasingly important as a piece of sports equipment. What started as a basic tool has over recent years become one of the most exciting pieces of sports equipment of the present. Competitions such as the Stihl Timbersports® Series, which has been taking place in the USA since 1985, are doing more and more to boost the popularity of this original tool. In looks, the sports versions still resemble their ancestors, but also differ from them in the cut and various other fine details. In the following, we tell you a little more about how it developed from a tool to a piece of sports equipment.

The history

The first records relating to the subject of the axe date back to the Stone Age, about 2½ million years ago. Although back then the axe, made from stone and basic wood, was purely a working tool, it experienced its first renaissance with the discovery of metals such as bronze and steel. A low stability and material-related wear now became a thing of the past.  New uses were developed, and it wasn't long before it was first misappropriated. French warriors soon saw the benefits of a tool that enabled them to attack their opponents from a certain distance – and thus the throwing axe was born.

However, as other, more effective tools were developed, the throwing axe became less important and gradually returned to the woods and forests. But it wasn’t long before bored Swedish forestry workers repurposed the axe a second time, and used it as a throwing axe in minor competitions.

The axe finally gained proper recognition as a piece of sports equipment with the launch of the Stihl Timbersports®  Series. Its versatile use in various disciplines such as the Standing Block Chop, a discipline that simulates the felling of a tree, and the increasing popularity of the sport ultimately led to the current level of familiarity of the sport axe.

Axe throwing

One well-known use for the sport axe is axe throwing, which uses a special throwing axe. In this sport, the throwing technique is almost more important than the shape and type of the axe used. It consists of the single- and two-handed throwing technique. The latter is carried out with so-called "double axes", which have two identical blades.

The aim of this sport is to throw the axe at a wooden block or target so it lands as close as possible to the centre of the target and stays there. The idea of competition was the spur for a wide range of international competitions.

STIHL Timbersports® competitions

International competitions such as the STIHL Timbersports® Series, which had their origin in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA  in the 19th century, have now also been taking place in Germany for over 17 years. The athletes compete in a total of six disciplines, three of which use the sport axe:

"Standing Block Chop", "Underhand Chop" and  "the Springboard".


Standing Block Chop

The athletes simulate the felling of a tree – against the clock, of course. The objective is to chop through the side of a 30cm diameter wooden block with an axe as quickly as possible.


The Springboard

The premier class in the STIHL Timbersports® Series: contestants climb to a height of two metres and chop through a log mounted on the top of the tree trunk. The discipline owes its name to the wooden board – the springboard – that the athletes have to anchor in the trunk in order to reach the required height.


Single Buck

Using the 2-metre single buck saw: a disc is cut from a horizontally secured wooden block. The contestant is supported by an assistant who, if necessary, will drive a wedge between the disc and the wooden block.


Underhand Chop

Contestants stand on a horizontal block and use targeted blows to sever it on both sides.


Stihl Stock Saw

Using an MS 661, a standard commercially available STIHL chainsaw, two wooden discs known as cookies have to be cut from a horizontally attached wooden trunk using one up and one down cut. The difficulty lies in cutting both discs from within the 10 cm of allotted wood, and cutting each one in a single piece.


Hot Saw

More power: the contestants use chainsaws of up to 808 hp to cut three 15cm complete wooden discs within a specified area from a horizontal wooden block.

Stihl Timbersports® athlete Dennis Schmitz also uses the OCHSENKOPF Champion axe intensively for his training, as he knows it enables him to prepare optimally for his competitions.

Find out more about Dennis Schmitz

OCHSENKOPF Champion axe OX 440 H

Thanks to the individual shape and design of the pad and cheeks, every axe is optimised for a specific type of use. This means that the alignment and cutting angle of the blade as well as the shape of the handle material influence the characteristics of every single axe.


The Champion axe OX 440 H by OCHSENKOPF has been given a special training cut that is suitable exclusively for softwoods such as poplar. The high-quality hickory handle that, in contrast to the straight throwing axe, is shaped like a cow-foot ensures the correct grip. The triple wedge provides the secure connection between handle and head, and can cope with any competitions.

OCHSENKOPF champion axe

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