David Fanale

David Fanale tests out his ax-throwing station in the Motion Control Building at Mountainfest Frday.

RIDGWAY — For Ridgway resident David Fanale, axes are for more than just chopping wood.

Predominant in Viking culture, axes are one of the oldest tools used by man. In today’s world, though, they have come to be used in the sport of ax throwing, which involves throwing an ax at a target and attempting to hit the bullseye or near to it.

Fanale said that while attending the Bloomfield Little Italy Days in Pittsburgh last summer, he witnessed an ax-throwing unit someone had hosted.

“I thought it would be something nice to bring to Mountainfest,” he said.

Mountainfest 2020 in Ridgway, which took place over the weekend, was the first time Fanale had hosted his own ax-throwing station. He doesn’t claim to be a pro, he says, and really just finds the activity intriguing.

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Fanale, who works in wildlife management in New Jersey, said the popularity of the sport is increasing. “Urban ax throwing” is the contemporary name for the indoor activity.

Traditional ax throwing is a historical sport, but originated in an outdoor environment. Urban ax throwing is now held in leagues, group events and walk-in facilities, according to www.urbanaxes.com.

Fanale says he thinks people enjoy the athletic nature of ax throwing, while also appreciating the challenge and feeling of accomplishment. The sport requires good hand-eye coordination.

“Sticking a blade in the wood from a distance — it’s intriguing,” he said.

The activity fit right in with one of the goals of Mountainfest, which was to showcase the history of the area and offer indoor and outdoor activities for people to enjoy in the wintertime, said Tom Fitch of the Elk County Wilds Tourism Association.

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