Saving Trees, Cutting Costs

Saving Trees, Cutting Costs

Saving trees kinda sounds ridiculous when you are referring to axe throwing. We are literally throwing sharp objects at lumber. By doing it, we are killing trees. It is part of the sport. What we all CAN do, is to try to use less wood. I figured with everyone home during this pandemic, sharing how we have been playing around with saving wood would be good timing. Hopefully save all of you some money. It is NOT the prettiest. But then again, that isn’t the point of this. We haven’t done the FULL saving measure on our WATL Targets, but we still did the center board. This is not fully my idea, it was and is an ongoing collaborative effort with Chris Ross, owner of Total Axe. Chris had got the original concept from David Witherow and we have been tweaking it to figure out what works best.

The New Way

We recently switched to cottonwood from an SPF. More on that later. What we are doing to save trees is simply putting a 12in cut into the 48in boards we are receiving. All Boards are now 36in long and we have a bunch of cut offs. This does 2 things.
1. It makes the bullseys offset from the center of the board, allowing it to be flipped over and re-used.
2. It separates the clutch from the rest of the 36 in of wood on the “Clutch Boards” so a split in the board stops running the length of the whole 48in.

First attempt, shows screws in places we no longer use.

In the picture above, it is showing screws in places we originally tried placing them. This was found to be overkill as well as adding in too many more possibilities of hitting a screw. In the next picture, I highlighted in RED where we now put the screws. We found the lower left and right boards don’t need 4 screws. You are rarely hitting that board. The outer screws on the 12in clutch boards are in a bad spot as well. Don’t like that there are 2 screws inside the 1 ring? Then Cut your centers to be 10in. You just wont be able to use that cut off for anything, but will still save by being able to flip.


So the 12in Clutch boards ARE more prone to split without the 4th screw. However, cutting the furthest “Impact boards” down to have a 12in section that can be used to sandwich the clutch as tight as you can with the center board helps tremendously. This may not be necessary on Pine boards, but the cottonwood is “rough cut” and no two boards are the same. That outer board being cut really helps.

To make the clutches, we came up with a jig that we can place the 12in board into. One side of jig is Left, the opposite side is Right. We draw both left and right on these 12in pieces so that any board can be a left or right. These can’t be flipped and re-used, but they can be used for whichever needs to be changed. The jig also has the lower portion of the “One” line missing from the center board, should you need to replace that board.


Is It Really Saving Trees?

So here are the facts from our trial. When we made the switch to cottonwood, it was also the same time we started this new way of putting the targets up. In the 3 weeks prior to switching, we had NO axe throwing leagues going on. (Read: They usually chew up the most boards) We also only started using the Cottonwood once the pine that was up was done. It was two weeks prior to the start of Leagues, so leagues were during 1 of the weeks of the new way, with cottonwood. Leagues were Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (Big Axe League) and on Sunday we have lunch and night leagues. So basically 5 league “nights” plus regular groups and member practice.

We went through only 17 boards when switching. With the leagues in there. On a regular Wednesday night for league, we probably would go through that much. This was 3 WEEKS. 17 Boards… That is IT. The previous 3 weeks, we went through 246 boards. That is a LOT of trees.

That Looks Stupid

I don’t disagree with you. You know what else looks stupid? Spending more money than you need to. In the 3 weeks prior to switching, that cost $1476 in wood. After switching, and the boards being Much more expensive, cost us about $255. It can look as stupid as it wants for a $1200 savings, IMO.

I have heard so many times in the beginning: “That’s a lot of screws”. Yeah, there are a couple more. You might even hit one of those with your axe. Guess what?! You also might hit the other ones that are always used. It happens. Throw better. And if you go look at all the targets, the areas outside of the clutch of bull that get worn are highlighted in GREEN. Not exactly where a screw is on the new method. Not any closer than the others you used to have no issue with being their (Top 2). In reality, nobody really minds it anymore. It was just new, and people don’t like change.


Board changes aren’t going to be quick. BUT you are going to do less of them when using cottonwood. Also, even without cutting the 12in sections, with cottonwood, board changes aren’t going to be quick anyway because it is rough cut.

By changing over to this method, you automatically are going to save twice as much wood, and trees. You are taking half of the target that rarely gets hit and almost taking it out of the equation of needing to be changed. You are also making your center board usable a second time. It was 6 weeks until we needed to change ONE of the side boards.

Have fun out there throwing axes! Save some trees! If you figure out another way to improve this, PLEASE comment below and let us know.

6 thoughts on “Saving Trees, Cutting Costs”

  1. Toby says:

    Hi Keith,
    Thank you for this great work!
    If we had a cotton wood supplier in the UK we would be all over this.
    As for your system, we are not WATL but it’s got me thinking how to adapt Axe Heads boards in a similar way.
    Many thanks
    Stay safe.
    Axe Heads

    1. Keith Gibbons says:

      Thanks Toby. You can still do this with Pine. I dont know if the results will be as drastic, but it is worth a shot! Play around with it. Even if its just the center board.

  2. Matt Brown says:

    Hey Keith,

    Insightful stuff. Just wanted to see your thoughts on the screw placement being so close to the edges and tops of the board…

    1. Keith Gibbons says:

      We didn’t really change the positions of those from what we ever did in the past.

  3. Taylor R. says:

    Hey Keith, great idea! We use WATL targets (while not being WATL affiliated anymore) and did something similar to the boards on the outer edge, 1 ft on the top and bottom with a 2ft section to house the actual line for the 1 ring. We’ve also switched out our backer boards from 1 continuous 4ft section to 3x 16inch sections. When we were using pine, this allowed us to just replace the worn out piece (typically from the middle) but now that we’ve switched to cottonwood we haven’t had to touch them so i don’t know if it’s had a net benefit other than being able to use up the shorter pieces that would have otherwise gone to waste.

    We have the cottonwood delivered as whole planks and cut them to size in house, so we have cut-offs that can be used where not critical.

    1. Keith Gibbons says:

      Nice! Yeah our backboards have been a grid of 16in cuts for a while now and we just rearrange as needed. ?

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