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What is a Lumberjacking Competition?

A man using an axe to chop wood.
A logger working.
Felled trees.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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A lumberjacking competition is a sports event where competitors demonstrate their skills in a variety of events which are associated with the timber industry. Events at a lumberjacking competition tend to be quite varied, but they typically include work with saws and axes, as well as demonstrations of skill which involve moving raw timber around the competition site and climbing poles. Lumberjackers may be involved in the timber industry in some way, or they may simply be talented athletes who enjoy the demands of lumberjacking competitions.

The origins of such competitions lie in the 1800s, when loggers would often get together to show off their skills. In the late 20th century, loggers began sponsoring formal lumberjacking events, both to raise awareness about the timber industry and to celebrate the heritage of logging. A lumberjacking event typically includes events for solo, paired, and team competitors, and most are open to women as well, although women generally compete in a separate division.

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Events at a lumberjacking competition are judged on the basis of speed. The goal is to get through the event as quickly as possible without incurring injury, and to perform the task as spelled out. Competitors may do things like chainsawing through logs, using hand saws to cut through timber, or cutting and trimming timber with axes. In events like the single buck, a single logger must quickly saw through a log with a bucksaw, while team events include things like precision sawing as a group. A lumberjacking event also usually includes climbing, demonstrating the ability to quickly and safely climb a tree, and people may participate in log rolling and caber toss events to demonstrate that they can move timber in the field.

People who compete in a lumberjacking competition must be precise, fast, agile, and very skilled. Many forestry departments send students to compete at such events, where they face off against working loggers and foresters who work with timber on a daily basis. One notable lumberjacking competition, the Stihl Timbersports event, is sponsored by a manufacturer of logging equipment, and it attracts elite athletes in the field.

Attending a lumberjacking competition can be very interesting, especially for people who are interested in the history of logging. The competitors demonstrate the skills which have been used in forestry for centuries, and some are often willing to talk with attendees about the events and the skills required.

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