El Cajon Native Takes Aim at World Axe Throwing Championship

Daniel Lopez sharpened his skills in his backyard, and has a chance to win $15,000 on ESPN this weekend.

Daniel Lopez understands the appeal of axe throwing. 

"There's something primal in all of us," he explains. "Our modern day conditioning is being tentative even holding the axe."

But he's seen the apprehension melt away time and time again.

"You get that first stick, it's great," he said. "It's very satisfying.

"I've yet to see somebody do it and not enjoy it."

The El Cajon native is among those who have gotten hooked. But it is no ordinary hobby for Lopez. That's part of the reason why this weekend he'll be taking aim at a World Championship." 

"I am so excited, experience of a lifetime."

Lopez has only been doing competitive axe throwing for around two years. But whether he knew it or not, Lopez had been preparing for this weekend for a very long time. 

The 38-year-old grew up going camping, where he got acclimated with knives and axes. He also enjoyed martial arts as a kid, and had the dream of being a Batman of sorts who could throw anything. 

Once he saw that it was possible, he had to figure out how it's done. He did that with the help of YouTube. 

"It just turned into this journey."

He set up targets at his house, where he throws axes, as well as knives, spikes, throwing stars, sais and shovels.

Yes, shovels.

"If it's got a narrow edge or a point, I can throw it into something."

For a long time it was just a hobby. That was until Lopez decided he needed a change. After spending a decade as an insurance underwriter, it was time for a new gig.

"I found myself in a position where I wanted something a little bit more rewarding," he explained. "Something that I felt good about."

He had heard about axe throwing spots popping up, including Bad Axe Throwing in Pacific Beach. Lopez landed a job there, and soon after channeled his passion into competition.

"That was my first time," he said. "There was a lot of pressure I think at first, getting into the competition scene." 

His background helped him excel right away. Lopez tested his skills in the World Axe Throwing League. Last winter he was one of 12 regional champions, which earned him a spot in the World Championship - which is taking place this weekend in Tucson.

The 64-person tournament uses one-on-one rounds of 10 throws to determine who moves on. The final rounds are broadcast by ESPN, and the winner will take home $15,000.

"You just gotta show up on that day and that's what I hope to do." 

If he doesn't, Daniel Lopez will still enjoy himself. And continue to chase the familiar sensation that got him hooked in the first place. 

"It's very satisfying," He said. "It's something that you can feel like you accomplished something while playing a game. It's just a good feeling." 

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