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Ax-thrower targets World Championships after injury

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | April 4, 2022 12:00 AM

A Trego ax-thrower hopes her story of perseverance inspires others like her to pick up a hatchet.

Lindy Smith fell and sustained a head injury on her 35th wedding anniversary last May. She was airlifted to Logan Health Medical Center, where she awoke to find she didn’t recognize anyone, not even her husband Ken.

Just a month later, Smith was back in action with a hatchet in her hands. Even though she had to be reintroduced to all her teammates, Smith nonetheless showed up to compete at an ax-throwing competition in Billings, where she took the award for top female competitor.

“I put my story out there as much as I can so people can see that you can face these obstacles and overcome them,” she said.

Smith was reluctant to try ax-throwing at first.

“It scared me and intimidated me,” remembered Smith, a retired law enforcement officer.

She and Ken, also retired from law enforcement, were introduced to ax-throwing in 2019 by some friends who invited them to Hank’s Hatchets in Whitefish. Only a week after trying it, the pair built their own target in their yard and joined a World Axe Throwing League at Hank’s Hatchets.

They were hooked when they each hit their first bullseye.

At the time, they didn’t have any coaches, so they struggled to improve their game. Finally, they met Miguel Tamburini of Jumping Jackalope Axe Throwing in Spokane.

“He would help us with the rotation and aim, and that’s how he became our mentor,” Smith said.

The couple started traveling back and forth to Spokane to train with Tamburini.

“We were getting better and getting better,” Smith said.

Now they are some of the top local participants in the growing sport. They’ve individually accumulated several hefty medals, and they even won a dual league that involves both members of an ax-throwing pair launching their hatchets at the same time.

They compete across the region, and Smith is sponsored by Sacred Waters Brewing Company. Both Lindy and Ken are in contention to be the first Montanan to score a perfect game in league play. A perfect game consists of eight bullseyes and two “kills,” which occur when a player calls their shot for the upper right or left dot and hits it on that throw.

Now they both have their sights set on the World Championships of the World Axe Throwing League. The top 240 throwers in the world, determined by racking up circuit points at competitions, get the chance to compete at Worlds.

Lindy and Ken are training for the chance to go to Worlds by throwing approximately five days a week for an hour or two, either in their friends’ indoor lanes or out in their yard when the weather cooperates.

“We throw almost every single day,” said Smith.

Smith said they don’t get tired of ax-throwing, because there is always a new technique to learn or skill to hone.

“There’s so many minute things that change with each throw,” said Smith.

Instead of getting burnt out, Smith is always finding new reasons to love the sport of ax-throwing. One of her favorite parts of the activity is the people she meets through leagues and competitions.

The ax-throwing community is supportive and eclectic, the Smiths reported.

“Everybody wants you to improve,” said Ken. “It’s just a very unique environment.”

Ax-throwers come from a variety of professions, the Smiths said, but they all want to see their fellow ax-throwers thrive.

“This sport is about fun,” said Smith. “You have to be having fun...If you’re not having fun, you might as well give it up.”

Smith hopes to introduce even more female throwers to the fun of ax-throwing. She said her goal is “trying to get more women excited about the sport.”

“I think that in the sport we’re so underrepresented, and yet we could be such a great part of it,” Smith said. “…It seems like we fall between the cracks, like we don’t stand out. So [I’m] trying to get more women involved, get us together at tournaments, uplift and motivate each other and feel more confident.”

Smith helps out at a novice league at American Axe in Kalispell, participates in all-women’s events, and does one-on-one introductions for women who might not feel comfortable trying the sport out in public.

“There is no limits to who can throw,” Smith insisted. “Anybody and everybody is welcome.”

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.