February 2, 2024

The International Axe Throwing Federation announces the following rule amendments effective March 9, 2024, the start of the new league qualification season. These amendments are warranted, straightforward, and supported by the survey and test play results (further explained below).

Rule Changes In Standard and Premier:

  1. Big Axe Clutch attempts will be limited to 3 consecutive missed attempts.  After which, players must go back to throwing for bullseyes in order to unlock Clutch throwing again.

    1. A successful attempt is a Clutch or a Touch Clutch.

    2. Only 3 consecutive missed attempts prompt this. If both players miss two big axe Clutch attempts, then both players hit on their third throw, and then they miss again on the fourth throw, the fourth throw counts as the 1st consecutive missed attempt.

    3. A player may return to throwing for the bullseye before 3 consecutive missed Clutch attempts. However, this locks the Clutch and the player must throw a bullseye to unlock Clutch throwing again.For example: Both players throw a bullseye and unlock a Clutch. Both players make two missed Clutch attempts and both agree to return to the target for points. They must bull-in again to unlock Clutch throwing again.

Rule Changes In Premier Only:

  1. Touch Clutch will be awarded 5 points for both hatchet and Big Axe.

    1. A touch Clutch means any part of the blade touching any part of the Clutch inside the green circle’s circumference.

      1. This is equivalent to a Clutch under Standard rules.

Rule Changes In Wilson Cup Round 1:

  1. Clutch attempts will be required on every 5th throw for the 75 hatchet throws.

    1. Round 1 uses Premier Rules, including the new touch Clutch score of 5 points.

Qualification Changes for Wilson Cup Round 1:

  1. The 70+ Average path to Round 1 qualification will be amended to remove the criteria for non-concurrency. 

    1. Feedback suggests the criteria that the three 70+ average seasons be non-overlapping adds unnecessary confusion. Recording three seasons with a 70+ average at one IATF member organization demonstrates a level of skill that warrants qualification for Round 1.

The roll out of these changes have been scheduled to coincide with the beginning of the new league qualification period.

Any league that begins before March 9, 2024 (under the old ruleset) will conclude under the same ruleset. Leagues will not change rulesets midseason.

All subsequent tournaments, including IATC 2024, will be played under the new ruleset starting with the US Championship hosted by Ace Axe on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

Original Survey Objectives

  • To understand if we need to address a near-bullseye and a clean-three being equal.

    • Survey does not indicate this is a priority.

  • Solve the problem of a touch-Clutch (unsuccessful Premier) and a total miss, or dropped axe, being equal in Premier rules.

    • Survey indicates addressing this is a priority.

  • Do we need to unify the ruleset to allow for larger league communities to exist?

    • Survey does not indicate this is a priority.

    • Survey indicates this would actually be detrimental.

  • Recognize that different skill levels exist, how are we addressing that if we unify the ruleset?

    • Survey suggests maintaining separate rulesets is servicing the needs of different skill levels.

    • Maintaining separate rulesets also supports tournament circuit skill differentiation.

Summary of Observations from iATF Rules Survey 2023 results

Standard Leagues

Players in Standard leagues want to continue playing in a less competitive environment. They are not interested in the Premier ruleset and are adverse to a highly-competitive environment. The intensity of Premier leagues is not fun for these players. A high percentage indicated they would quit throwing axes if the only option was to play in leagues that feature more competitive rules (i.e. Premier bullseyes).

Big Axe

Big Axe is very well-liked by players and spectators. Most do not believe tie breakers take too long, but do believe that Big Axe Clutch attempts should be limited to prevent Big Axe Clutch attempts from dragging on.

Premier Rules

Premier rules are well-liked as they are now. There is broad support for points awarded for a touch-Clutch.

Unifying Rules

The survey supports the continuance of both Standard and Premier rules. While there is some support for a unified ruleset, newer and less skilled players have indicated they are at high risk of discontinuing play if Standard rules are not offered. The IATF views growing and retaining a base of new players as a key priority. Standard throwers make up about 70% of the active community.

Target Dimensions

Players like the target dimensions how they are.  They see no need for adjusting the dimensions of any of the current rings or Clutch sizes.

Number of Axes in a Match

This was the most polarized topic on the survey. Players were asked whether they should be limited to using one hatchet and one Big Axe during a match. Opinions were divided and strong. Newer and less experienced players tended to view this limit more negatively.  Regardless, we don’t view this as an urgent issue to address and individual tournament hosts are welcome to add this stipulation to their specific tournaments if they choose.

Play Test Results for Touch Clutch

Based on the clear support in the survey results for the addition of a touch Clutch, we conducted two play testing days to explore the options of the 3 and 5 point touch Clutch options. The play testing was conducted by two groups: one a mix of medium-high level throwers and the other all high level throwers. The conclusion of both play testing groups was unanimous: the touch Clutch should be worth 5 points because it leaves more choice and excitement for throwers and spectators and it provides more opportunities for big axe tie breakers.