David Reumer says he has had an axe in his hand for as long as he can remember.
Most toddlers would get a toy or a bike for their second birthday, but he was given a hatchet by his father.
His dad started competitive woodchopping at 15 and his gift ensured his son would start even earlier.
Reumer is the very definition of a chip off the old block.
“I’d go and biff into the trees and ding up the fence,” he told Melinda James on ABC Illawarra Breakfast.
“I had my first woodchopping competition at 10 years old and I’ve been competing now for 18 years.
“You can start in junior events for ages 10 to 16, so as soon as I turned 10 I was competing.”
In 2019, the New South Wales Southern Highlands resident was crowned Australian Rookie Champion.
He is aiming to become a national champion again at the Australian Pro Championships in Wollongong this weekend.
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‘Massive on a global level’
Reumer says timber sport events attract massive crowds overseas.
“It’s huge. In 2019 I went to Prague for the world championships when I won the Australian Rookies and it’s incredible,” he said.
“We were in a full stadium — it’s other-worldly.
“You have normal woodchopping at agricultural shows but this stuff is massive on a global level.”
Reumer said he had gone from earning pocket money selling firewood as a child to competing for tens of thousands of dollars at professional events.
“They can be fairly prestigious to win and it’s a good little cheque you get at the end of it because you put a lot of time, effort, and money into it,” he said.
He said his training involved three gym sessions a week and up to four afternoons practising timber sports.
‘There’s a lot more to it’
In the same way a slight movement with a grip can affect a golf swing, wood chopping is a technical sport that combines accuracy, strategy, and strength.
While David Reumer has an imposing physique now, he said he was a “string bean” when he started in the sport.
“I learnt to do things the right way with technique and then when I got some natural size about me, I took off,” he said.
“There’s a lot more to it, and people think you just pick up an axe, stand on a log, and whale into it.
“You can do that, but it causes injuries and while being big and strong helps, you’ve got to know how to do things properly before — it helps.”
Finding wood to practise on is often a day’s work in itself and the timber must be cut to the correct size and the bark stripped.
“You go through a fair bit of wood but there are some places we can go to get some logs, but you’ve got to go and get them so it’s a bit of a job in itself,” he said.