Ron Porter recently found himself in a familiar place: looking for his next adventure.
Porter, who was recovering from his third back surgery, received an email regarding his resume: Would he be interested in becoming an instructor at an ax-throwing studio?
“How do you not answer that question with a yes?” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
In November, he took the job at Columbus Axe Throwing in the Continent, 6124 Busch Blvd. in north Columbus. Three months later, he is competing statewide in the sport.
Porter, a Delaware resident, is going up against 29 other ax-wielding competitors at this year’s Arnold Sports Festival, to be held Thursday, March 1, through Sunday, March 4, at 13 venues throughout Columbus.
Ax-throwing was one of several competitions added to the festival this year.
Qualifying throws will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 3, in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The top 16 throwers return the following day for the finals, to be held noon to 5 p.m., also in the convention center.
As of last week, Porter said, he was throwing 100 to 200 axes each day to get ready for the competition.
“I’ve never been sore from doing it so I must be doing something right or I’m too old to feel it,” said Porter, 51, the only central Ohioan registered for the competition as of Feb. 22. The event has open registration, so others could sign up before the qualifying round.
Porter is a self-described natural competitor. He said he was an athlete in high school and has been active in sports ever since.
This won’t be his first visit to the Arnold: He competed in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu contest more than 10 years ago.
He also played amateur hockey – after teaching himself to skate in six weeks – and completed a brief stint in semipro football, both in Cleveland.
“I try it, master and find something new,” said Porter, who was a Delaware police officer for 15 years.
The rules of ax-throwing are simple: Two contestants get 10 throws each at a board marked with circles ranging from 1 through 4 points and a bull’s-eye worth 6 points.
Competitors only can attempt to strike one of two small blue circles at the top of the board – and worth 10 points – on their last throw.
The person with the most points wins.
Porter said ax-throwing is tailor-made for his personality.
“I love to make people laugh,” he said.
The grand prize for winning the Arnold ax-throwing competition is $1,000 and a bedazzled belt.
“That belt was born to go around my body,” Porter said.
The Arnold weekend
More than 20,000 athletes will in this year’s Arnold Sports Festival, which will bring 200,000 visitors to central Ohio and have a local economic impact of $54.1 million, said Matt Lorz, spokesman for the Arnold.
One of the biggest draws is the Arnold Fitness Expo from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. March 2 and 3 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 4 in the convention center. It will have more than 1,000 vendor booths and four stages packed with competitions, Lorz said.
Multiple ticket packages and different pricing are available for specific events. For more information about tickets, go online to arnoldsportsfestival.com.
The Arnold Classic – the international bodybuilding championship that started it all 30 years ago – also will be held at the convention center. Prejudging is noon to 4 p.m. March 3 and finals are 7 to 10 p.m. that evening.
The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multisports festival in the world, with athletes from 80 countries competing in 77 sports, from dance fitness to yoga, Lorz said.
The festival is held on six continents, he said.
“It’s just amazing how fast it’s grown,” Lorz said.