Axeman urges others to get a handle on it

Last updated 12:10 07/02/2013
Southland Times photo
BRIDGET RAILTON/Fairfax NZ
Axeman Brian Gutsell is calling for more people to get involved in the sport of woodchopping.

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How much wood can a wood chopper chop if a wood chopper could chop wood? Why not give it a go and find out?

Wood chopper Brian Gutsell, of Gore, is calling for more people to get involved with wood chopping as a sport, especially the younger generation.

"If I'd started when I was a teenager I'd be a lot better than I am now," he said.

But with 20 years experience wielding an axe he is more than qualified to teach willing newcomers.

Wood chopping as a sport has long been rooted in Southland history, with some claiming it began, somewhat ironically, in Woodlands.

"Every little town had a sports meeting," Gutsell said. "As the men moved further into the trees for work, the competition would follow them in."

Popular in the 1880s, the sport has since slid from public favour.

"We are far from a mainstream sport," he said.

Gutsell is determined to change this, and encourages everybody to give it a go.

"We are always looking for new competitors, male or female," he said.

In wood chopping competitions, skilled axemen and women cut or saw through a log or block of wood in an attempt to be first to cut right through.

Though it sounds simple enough, novice choppers definitely need a couple of practice cuts before entering any competition, Gutsell said.

"We don't just let people get in there and start chopping.

"We'll take them out the back and let them have a few goes at it first."

Wood chopping is practised in countries across the world such as Australia, the US, and Canada, so there are plenty of opportunities to travel with the sport.

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