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Burying the hatchet: Jumping Jackalope Axe Throwing is hosting top tournament this weekend

UPDATED: Mon., May 10, 2021

By Kris Kilduff For The Spokesman-Review

If you’ve driven through downtown recently, you might be wondering why a giant turquoise-blue sign donning a Jackalope is towering over East Riverside Avenue. It wasn’t long ago that the only chance you had of seeing a mysterious furry creature wielding an ax with a menacing grin was if you were browsing the 1980s horror movie section of a local video rental store.

Well, gone are the days of Blockbuster and with them went the traditional definitions of what the average fan considers to be a sport. The late 1990s birthed an era that popularized BMX and skateboarding. In 2007, disc golf took the country by storm, and, not long after, entire leagues of eSports allowed video gamers their shot at turning pro.

The most recent addition to the competitive addictions calls for participants to sharpen knives, paint targets and get ready to bury the hatchet. In reality, ax throwing isn’t that new. The sport dates back to 1940 when logger sports would be competitions at fairs and festivals.

In 2017, the World Axe Throwing League was created, quickly grew in popularity and now has more than 350 certified facilities around the world. The organization tracks more than 6,000 competitive ax throwers in 28 countries. The WATL has three events televised on ESPN and hundreds of local and regional tournaments.

This year, the league announced that one of the three biggest tournaments will be hosted at Jumping Jackalope Axe Throwing, a new downtown ax-throwing venue. From Friday through Sunday during regular business hours, Jumping Jackalope will host 80 of the top ax throwers competing in duals, big axes, trick shots and hatchets. Music, vendors, food trucks and more will be featured at the free event open to the public.

All this is on the back of Jumping Jack Jackalope owner Miguel Tamburini, a world champion ax thrower. In the last two years, Tamburini, 37, has been twice rated No. 1 in the world, is an eight-time regional champion and holds two world records, including the highest single season in points (1,666 in 2020).

Tamburini is also the only certified ax-throwing coach in the world, traveling all over the U.S. helping design, coach and consult for premier competitors and facilities in the sport. After moving to Oklahoma from Venezuela, Tamburini’s hobby of ax throwing became an obsession.

“In October of 2019, I started throwing every single day. Not just axes, but knives, hatchets, throwing stars and sawblades,” Tamburini said. By December, I had quit my job, dedicating my time to the sport and helping write the official certification process for ax-throwing coaches.

It was less than a year before his journey brought him to the Pacific Northwest. “I like to call this area a sleeping giant,” Tamburini said. “The sport of ax throwing hasn’t caught on out here, yet this area has one of the biggest markets for hunting, camping and outdoor activities.”

Tamburini has big plans for his new space that accommodates birthdays, bachelor parties and team-building events that allow for businesses to book Jumping Jackalope and have a competition to see who wins the coveted Golden Jackalope Paw.

As summer nears, Jumping Jackalope will offer mobile events with a portable ax-throwing cage, measuring range and equipment that can turn a backyard, parking lot, brewery or church into something uncommon and exciting for any group of people.

“I love ax throwing because of how inclusive it is. The target doesn’t care about the color of your skin, your religion, your political position or your bank account,” Tamburini said. “Whatever your gender or age, if you are in a wheelchair or wake up and run every day. As long as you can throw a hatchet 12 feet, come see me, and we will teach you the best new sport in the world.”

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