Best Practice: How to Organise a Throwing Competition

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This collection of best practices will help you in organising a knife- and axe throwing competition.

Don't be scared by the length of the list! Those hints are enough to hold a world championship, but for regional events many points are not necessary or quickly done with.

The original version of these guidelines was written by Christian Thiel, based on 13 years of experience in organising throwing competitions. Please, do help expanding this collection by sending in additions and comments!

Target Setup

  • Use end grain wood for all targets (including special targets as for long distance).
  • Tree rounds are the best choice. Hard wood that makes it difficult for knives or axes to stick in is to be avoided at all cost. Test each target that you mount for softness. Well before a competition, do test your targets, to see if they harden or dry up over the course of some days.
  • Mark the distances lines for the events by nailing narrow wooden planks onto the ground - using pegs or big nails. (Spraying or painting the distance lines directly on natural ground did never work well - the marks disappeared quickly when in use. Indoor-floor or concrete has different limitations, you don't want your marks to be permanent.)
  • Fixing the whole target setup to the ground with pegs prevents it from moving away from the correct distance (e.g. resulting from heavy axe-impact or due to violent throwing tool retrieval)
  • Measuring distances to correctly place the distance marks for the events:
    • using plumb and tape measure on the ground, or
    • using pole+water-level and a laser distance instrument
  • Avoid an alignment of the targets that has the sun blinding the competitors during the day.

Targets for Warming Up

  • Enough warm up targets (rule of thumb: for 7 competitors, prepare one warm up target)
  • Keep enough distance to the competition targets (noise from warming up can be quite distracting in competition)
  • Safety-distance between the warm up targets: as much as mandated for the competition targets (if at all possible)
  • Ideally, a range marshal is present at each of the warm up ranges. The range marshal observes the throwing and intervenes when the competitors become so absorbed that they forget to watch the safety.
  • Rope in the warm up- and competition area, such that visitors don't get dangerously near the throwing action (using warning tapes/ropes, inside only throwers and arbiters/organisers are allowed). Distances proposed: 8m to the left and right, to the front 4m more than the longest throwing distance (e.g. 7m+4m=11m), and 10m to the back (of course, nobody is ever allowed behind the targets). Don't be too generous in roping off, or spectators and friends and family of the competitors won't be able to watch.

Rules

  • Do fix the rules before in writing, and publish them on the internet, so that every participant knows what to train for. Publication deadline: 3-4 months in advance. Exception for 1-2 surprise events (like “sausage on a rope”).
  • Print out the rules (multilingual!), and display them on the competition site for everybody to consult. The organiser keeps one copy of the printout on his person and does never hand it out. Arbiters overseeing special events (such as long distance) do make themselves familiar with the rules, and keep a copy of them available.
  • Do name one person who will take the final decision on rule questions. (For international competitions: To avoid the suspicion of bias/partisanship, this person should not be from the country where the competition is held.)
  • Have tape measure and scales ready on site, so that the throwing devices can be checked concerning their compliance with the rules. A measure-box constructed to the mandated knife and axe sizes can come in handy here. It is recommended to have a designated referee who mandatory checks all throwing tools to be used in competitions, and marks each of the tools cleared. For marking, think about small stickers, or permanent pens. Marking should take place on the day before the competition (for two referees, it takes 90 minutes to check the tools of 120 people).

Event Schedule and Workflow

  • For regional meetings, start no earlier than 10:00, because many participants will have to travel there the same day.
  • Registration:
    • Record the contact data of each participant (including the email address, to later send the official results and notices about future meetings - don't forget the permission-* with according text)
    • Assign a random starting number
    • Have each participant sign that he/she (strike if not desired)
      • accepts the rules posted,
      • participates at own risk,
      • has a third party liability insurance (if such an insurance is available in the throwers home country - which seems not to be the case in the UK and the USA for example)
      • accepts that the results will be published by name, and
      • consents to the publication of photos of him.
    • Initial filling of the scorecard
  • Start with a welcome speech, explain the schedule and the rules
    • In international events, a EuroThrowers representative should say a few words on the event
  • Make a group photo now before the competition events start (this will be the last opportunity where really all throwers, organisers and arbiters are present)
  • End the competitions at 17:00 - afterwards it goes into evening time, the neighbours want their quiet, and some families will already have to leave. Do plan for 16:00, you'll automatically collect one hour delay during the day.
  • Award ceremony, with thanks to
    • helping hands (perhaps hand over some small presents)
    • sponsors
    • participants
  • A 15-minute sports-special in a break provides talking points for everybody (e.g. artistic show, details on movie-stunt tricks, special knives,…).
  • If people can stay into the evening (when enough local people are present, or competitors do have to stay the night because their travel is so long): Do prepare for a party/campfire/get-together in a club house or affordable restaurant nearby! Keep it as informal as possible. Do consider music (guitar, band) and dancing.
  • Dynamic allocation of targets. If each thrower gets assigned to a fixed target, you will get delays, because at the end of every event, some throwers will still be busy throwing, while the other targets stand empty (experience tells that the meticulous throwers by chance all end up assigned to the same target).
  • Running events in parallel should be avoided. If it is necessary, make sure that participants don't miss an event (for example using loud announcements, or a cross-checking with the participants list).
  • Holding separate finals in an event takes much extra time. Only do this if you expect a big number of visitors.
  • Each competitor gets a named scorecard that collects the points achieved.
    • Ideally, the arbiter and competitor each sign beside the total sum field of each event directly afterwards.
    • To be extra sure, the arbiters each have an own notebook where they collect the scores achieved, with the scores also being signed by the arbiter and competitor.
  • Points achieved are transferred to a laptop for making the ranking lists:
    • Either the participants brings the scorecard to the laptop after each event, or
    • the points are transferred after all events are done (warning: will increase the time until an award ceremony can be held, and the danger of a participant losing the scorecard).

Certificates

  • Winner's certificates: Print them before competition day, just leave the following fields blank to be filled in by hand: winner-name, points/distances, signature of organiser/club
  • For each event, do print certificates for first/second/third place; Two sets, for women and men (perhaps a third set for a youth ranking);
  • Prepare 6 replacement certificates without even event-names, to be ready for on-site emergencies (e.g. handwriting/ranking errors)
  • To render the certificates official and valuable: include logos (organiser, EuroThrowers, perhaps sponsors) and use nice (thick, veined) paper and an antique header font.
  • Filling out the certificates will take you at least 50 minutes - do schedule the award ceremony accordingly. And enrol somebody with a nice handwriting beforehand.
  • Cups and prices are optional - winners really are as happy about a certificate as they are about cups (which are much more expensive).
  • Certificate of participation: Not only beginners are happy to take home a certificate of participation as a souvenir from a great throwers meeting (distribute after the award ceremony).

On Site

  • Enrol helping hands:
    • To build and paint the targets (target-paint needs a day to dry - start early, so that you have time for a second layer should it be necessary)
    • Arbiters
    • For general organisational help
  • Warning: For up to 25 participants, you can perhaps prepare the meeting alone. Any bigger, and you must enlist committed helpers.
  • Check how much of the grass turf may be damaged (at least the path between targets and the distance lines will be quite battered - if it rains, the whole area will be a muddy mess).
  • An extra presenter person can be a good idea. The presenter will announce and comment on the competitions, and entertain the audience.
  • An electronic amplifier and wireless microphone will be needed. Do test at least one day in advance if the sound (especially the voice announcements) can be clearly understood at all places.
  • Why you should think twice before playing music:
    • Its distracting for the competitors.
    • You need to obtain licenses.
    • Videos from the event that register the background music can not freely be published.
  • If the area is not very easy to overlook, you should put up a plan of the site. Including the competition sites and food stalls, it will also help the spectators to get around.
  • Do get insurance coverage for the event (e.g. in Germany, this costs around 200€ for a quite big event).
  • Check with the major's office/police if you have to register the event or even need an permission. Talking to the officials very early on ensures goodwill and prevents legal roadblocks from popping up later unexpectedly.
  • Talk to residents and neighbours and invite them
  • Catering
    • Participants need to know if there will be catering options (snack bar down the street, restaurants, food provided by organiser on site,…)
    • Drinking water should be available for cheap of free (heap of filled water bottles, tap-water and plastic cups,…)
  • Depending of how hidden the area sits: On the day before, do put up notice boards on the roads that guide to the site.
  • Advertise the event locally to have plenty of visitors: press/media, notice boards, Facebook; ask if a reporter will be present at the event.
  • Medical first aid availaible on site, at least a first aid kit.
  • Do enlist an official photographer for the event (one who has experience, and will provide the picture files for all participants to use).

Budget

  • The EuroThrowers as an umbrella organisation can give assistance in organising events, but can not provide any financial help.
  • The organiser thus bears the financial risk - but is completely free to set and collect the participation fee.
  • As the organiser, do calculate: can I afford the worst case, if for example only 10 paying competitors show up (e.g. due to heavy rain)?
  • Fathom if sponsoring is possible (local enterprises / tourism-promoting or regional development agencies), offer for example banners, or own promotion booths on site.

What a Thrower Wants to Know Before Deciding to Participate

  • Location (street address, perhaps geo coordinates), link to correct place in an online-map or route planner
  • How to get there (car, train, nearest public transport stops; can someone come and get me/shuttle)
  • Schedule
  • Events and rules
  • Costs of participation
  • Legal framework (e.g. in many European countries, you must transport your knives/axes in a locked container to the competition site; specific knives - for example butterflies or daggers - may be illegal in the country)
  • Accommodation (hotels, youth centres, camping; include price estimate/internet address/postal address/languages spoken at accommodation)
  • How to contact the local organiser (providing an email address is enough)
  • Is a registration necessary - what is the deadline? (Experience tells: in regional and even international events, 40% of the participants show up spontaneously, without registering beforehand!)

Assistance to Participants

Participants from far away sometimes need the assistance of the local organiser, for example with

  • Journey (information, pick-up at train station)
  • Booking the accommodation
  • Visa applications; To help participants get visas, the following letter (tailor appropriately) is enough:

Dear Mrs. X! I hereby invite you, and Mr. Y, to compete in the European Championship in Knife Throwing of the European throwing association EuroThrowers. It will take place in X-Town, South-Elbonia, on the weekend of the xth/yth of Gruni 2000. Please be sure to plan up to 3 days before and after for travelling! Sincerely, Mr. Z, Organiser

Pre- and Follow-up Care

  • Do contact registered participants some days before the event (email ok), to convey that the organisers cares about them, and to remind them of the organisational framework (travel, start time,…) and generally bring the event fresh into memory.
  • Afterwards, do publish the ranking/results and some good pictures on the internet, and tell the participants about this.
  • Forward winners certificates to participants who had to leave before the award ceremony.

Communication with the Thrower Community

  • Publish the event date at least 4 months beforehand
  • Central dissemination persons for each country: Inquire at EuroThrowers/KnifeThrowing.info

Eventualities

  • What will happen if it rains (heavily)?
  • In case spectators/participants do act unpleasantly or get violent: who intervenes, asserts domestic authority?

Guidelines extended with ideas from Christian Prestin, Holger Wycisk, Alexander Martynov.