Manjimup axeman a chip off the old block

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
VideoIt is the sense of community that keeps Manjimup’s Luke Giblett involved in the world of log-chopping.

It is a physically and mentally strenuous sport but it is the sense of community that keeps Manjimup’s Luke Giblett involved in the world of log-chopping.

Each swing of an axe and every movement of the saw has to be precise but vibrant and passionate community makes it worthwhile.

Luke, 24, has already got the 2018-19 log-chopping season off to a strong start, after competing in the Western Australian Axemen’s League season opener at the Perth Royal Show last week.

He took first place in the 325mm Singlehand Sawing Handicap Final, second place in the 275mm First Division Standing Block Final and 300mm Open Underhand Handicap Final and third in the 250mm Underhand and Standing Block Combination Final and third in the 325mm Singlehand Sawing Championship Final.

These wins are only the latest in a long line of achievements, which have regularly occurred since he took up log-chopping competitively about six years ago.

“It all started when my Dad and my Uncle used to do it and I remember going along to the chops when I was young to watch them,” Luke said.

“I always wanted to do it, so one day I asked my old man to train me and it snowballed from there.”

Luke said he had met a lot of good people all over the country and New Zealand through being involved with log-chopping.

“You meet a good bunch of people in the log-chopping community,” he said.

“I’ve been to places I’d never thought I’d go.”

The various types of log chop division are the singlehand sawing, double-handed saw, the standing block and the underhand block.

“It’s different ways they used to do them in the bush and then they turned them into a competition,” he said.

“I like my underhand – mostly because I’m better at it – and the singlehand saw because there’s challenge to it.”

Training for competition goes far beyond chopping wood for winter and Luke has a training set up in his backyard.

“It comes down to a lot of stamina and hand-eye coordination,” he said.

“It’s a lot more involved than just smashing a log.”

Log-chopping is still a precise and potentially-dangerous sport.

For example, when competing in an underhand competition, Luke stands on a section of log, looks down and swings an axe towards his feet.

“I still get the odd butterfly, especially when you have a big competition,” Luke said.

“The best thing to do is zone out to everything and think about what you have to do; when you’re that zoned out, you don’t really hear anything.”

Aside from a few chunks of wood flying up in the direction of his face courtesy of the competitor next to him, Luke’s biggest injury was taking an axe to foot.

“I needed nine stitches to my big toe,” he said.

Some of his biggest achievements include travelling to New Zealand to compete in the Christchurch Show and winning his first ever championship at the Dinninup Show in 2016.

“We’re always looking for new people to join in, it’s a really good sport,” Luke said.

“The more, the merrier.

“There’s only three of us here in Manjimup that still compete.”

Luke encouraged anyone interested in getting involved in the world of log-chopping to approach someone at a log-chopping competition or demonstration at shows such as the Brunswick Show, Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival and the Warren Agricultural Show.

“It’s well worth doing, it’s a lot of fun and it’s a great challenge.”

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