Here’s a primer on the events you’ll see during the Lumberjack competition…
UNDERHAND CHOP: The axmen (or woman) stands on top of a horizontally positioned block and on the signal “GO!” chops halfway through from the front side, turns and finishes chopping through from the back side. Time stops when the block is completely severed. The axes the competitors use weigh about 6 pounds, and they generally come from Australia or New Zealand. Accuracy is a real plus in this event as the competitor’s axes are striking the block only fractions of an inch from their feet.
STANDING BLOCK CHOP: The competitor secures their wood to the top of an upright stanchion. On the signal “GO!” the competitor chops halfway through the front of the block, then steps around the block, and finishes chopping through from the back side. A sharp eye, speed, and accuracy are the main requisites for this event.
CROSSCUT SAWING: Also known as “double bucking.” Two competitors use a crosscut saw to slice their way through, in just a few seconds, a horizontally fastened block. The saws used in competition today are al individually hand crafted from high quality tool steel. Crosscut sawing is a true test of the competitor’s teamwork and strength.
SINGLE BUCK, OR ONE MAN BUCK: This event allows only one competitor to run the crosscut saw. No weight or any device can be hung on the free end. Many hours of practice are required to learn the art of stroking a six-foot saw back and forth through the block without bucking it. Brute strength and endurance are the main requisites for this event.
AXE THROWING: The competitors throw their axes at a 4-inch bull’s eye while standing 20 feet from the target. Targets usually have five scoring areas. A bull’s eye scores 5 points, the next outside area 4 points, the next 3, and so on. After one practice throw to get their bearings, the athletes take three throws for a score, and the highest score wins. Throwing axes must weigh at least 2.5 pounds, have a 24 inch handle, and are normally double bitted.
SPRINGBOARD CHOP: Probably one of the most spectacular of all the lumberjack events! The contestant climbs a nine-foot spar pole using only his axe and springboards. While balancing on his top springboard (a hardwood plank about 5 feet long, 2 inches thick and 8 inches across) the competitor chops about two thirds of the way through the front of the block, then rotates his body in the opposite direction and finishes chopping through from the back side. Agility and good balance go a long way in this event.
HOT SAW: This event starts with the saw on the ground, switched off, with the competitor’s hands resting on top of the block they are about to cut. On the signal “GO!”, the competitor reaches down and in one fluid motion starts and picks up the saw, then proceeds to cut three slices off the end of the block, one down, one up, and one down. Time starts on the signal “GO!” and ends when the third disk is completely severed. Do NOT blink your eyes, or you’ll miss it!