Hit or Miss

Dear Reader,

Do you enjoy chucking weapons at a wall? You do?? Well, then, ax throwing may just be the new fun sport for you.

First — axe throwing… or is it ax throwing? According to Merriam-Webster, both spellings are correct but the version with the -e at the end is more common (in the U.S. at least). Apparently, Noah Webster preferred spellings that are more closely in line with their pronunciation, like “color” instead of “colour”), and rooted for the two-letter spelling. The three-letter spelling won out, but I am certain that growing up I learned the simple two-letter spelling — so, “ax” is just how it’s going to (and should) be in this post 😉 . But I digress….

Ax throwing is a thing. It’s like darts, but instead of launching a dainty-feathered stick from between your thumb and two fingers toward a bullseye, you clutch a murder weapon in both hands above your head, hold it like a barbarian poised to invade the Roman Empire, and then, hurl the thing like you’re fixing to bury Caesar.

Ax throwing is a bona fide sport often featured in lumberjack competitions, but it has somehow become a popular night-out activity (like bowling but with liability waivers).

So, what can I expect for my first time ax throwing?

Pay first and ask questions later. Unlike bowling alleys, ax throwing is a more involved sport as it requires you to meet with a coach (can’t just have the common folk swinging axes willy-nilly!). In practical terms, this means that ax throwing joints are smaller (under a dozen or so lanes) and reservations are usually advised and deposits are paid upfront.

At Urban Axes, you pay $30 per person for a one-hour slot with a coach to explain the safety measures and to guide you through the process. As a concept, throwing the ax is not very hard to grasp, but here are some pointers for your first time:

  1. Grip the ax handle firmly with both hands near the bottom of the shaft with your dominant hand further up. There is also an option to throw the ax one-handed.
  2. Gingerly raise the ax above and behind your head, gently rocking back on your dominant foot and keeping the blade pointed toward the target.
  3. Take a step forward to throw the ax aimed at the bullseye and follow through with your body. To perfect this movement, try to keep your wrist locked and your arm in line with the ax. 

Ax-throwing axes are specifically designed to be thrown. They are not the hatchets you will find at your local hardware store, rather they are light and aerodynamically designed. Like darts (and unlike bowling) there are a few different ways to keep score and play “games.” The standard game is three matches with five rounds (throws) each. The bullseye and surrounding circles have different point values and the person with the highest point total wins at the end of the three rounds.

Ax throwing is highly regulated, which means despite the overt danger of flying axes, it’s actually a relatively safe endeavor. Is ax throwing hard? For me, I threw the ax about 50 times and landed it in the board twice (once was a bullseye by total dumb luck). Frankly, I can’t believe how horrible I was (I’m usually at least mediocre at things!). Others fumbled on the first few throws and then began to land it in the board consistently — which is to say that some people have a knack for it.

At Urban Axes, entrance is open to those 21 and older; one can sign up for a shared one-hour session with a trainer (the public option) or book a private event for 4 to 20 participants. Also, there is food, sodas, beer, and wine available, which makes for a more social vibe.

Our coach, Caleb, was a champ. He consistently gave us pointers and didn’t make fun of me for my lack of skills. Overall, I had a (semi-)good time!  (Would have been better for me if I had just possessed like a tablespoon of natural ability — ugh.)

Have fun (and be safe!).

Love,

Raven

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