City axe thrower edges competition at the U.S. nationals

Bo Tait, co-owner of the Valley Axe throwing range in Sarnia, is now a U.S. National Tomahawk throwing champion as well. Troy Shantz

Troy Shantz

A co-owner of Valley Axe is carving out a reputation as both an entrepreneur and a world-class axe thrower.

Sarnia’s Bo Tait travelled to Las Vegas recently for the 14th annual U.S. Nationals Knife & Tomahawk Throwing Championships, and the former carpenter finished first in the amateur expert division.

Tait scored 145 in the event, in which competitors throw tomahawks at targets from 3, 4, and 5 metres distances, with a bullseye worth five points.

Tait said he should have scored higher but had some competition jitters.

He also competed in the Gold Cup, a head-to-head competition for knife and tomahawk throwing and made it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.

“If I wasn’t competing I was getting lessons from pros, getting tips,” said Tait, adding the fellow competitors were very helpful.

“These people, some of them have put well over a decade into this sport.”

His showing makes him eligible for the pro division and added distances of 7 and 9 metres.

Tait, who helped launch Valley Axe on London Line last year, is a relative newcomer to the sport himself.

“The first time I threw an axe at a target was in early December of 2015,” he said. “I was in my first competition two weeks after opening (Valley Axe) for the Canadian Nationals.”

Tait, who also won that competition, trains regularly and he even has a mentor, Ward Wright, director of the International Knife Throwers Hall of Fame.

Wright is based in the Ottawa Valley, so Tait sends him video clips of his throws and positioning and gets his feedback.

Valley Axe is looking at hosting regional and even provincial competitions in the future once it completes an expansion at the former Bluewater Fun Park property, which includes outdoor axe-throwing ranges, soccer field and multiple beach volleyball courts.

Tait said several participants in local axe-throwing league have shown great potential.

“We’ve got future world champions here,” he said. “It’s a really skilled community.”