Competition axing is one of the fastest growing rural sports across Europe.

This modern sounding sport actually traces it's origins date back to the stone age. However, competition axing in its current form only came to the UK in 1966, when the Australian team came over to demonstrate their style of wood chopping. The Australian style is all about clearing land for farming as fast as possible.

When the Australian team first arrived, British champion Mick Percival was only ten years old and he saw them on Blue Peter.

Mick said: “It really struck a chord with me, which has remained ever since.”

As a schoolboy, Mick worked part-time on a local farm, going full-time after he left school. “The old boys on the farm taught me how to work in the woods; I was made redundant when the farm was sold off and it seemed like a natural progression to work in the woods full-time.”

Throughout his career Mick has undertaken every aspect of woodland management, from harvesting timber and selling it for furniture, to coppicing, planting, and working on Sites of Special Scientific Interest, cutting corridors to encourage invertebrates.

He first got involved in competitions in 1978, and took the title of British champion in the underhand discipline in 1986, 1989 and 1993, claiming the hard hitting championship in 1994 and 1995. “There are competitions for each discipline – it’s a bit like the Olympics; you specialise in one field, and underhand is what I’m best at”, he said.

British champion Mick Percival is one of the sport's big names that will be displaying at this year's Royal Bath & West Show. Visitors to the Show will be treated to a display of all the key disciplines, each of which reflects a different aspect of felling and processing a tree by hand.

“We like to get the message across to the general public that there are still people working full-time managing and preserving woods”, Mick said.

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