My Axe Throwing Adventure
By: Joanne Atkins
I consider myself a fairly open-minded person, often adventurous and up to experiencing something new. Well, as long as it doesn’t involve jumping out of a plane or sleeping with snakes on Beausoleil Island, home of the Massasauga rattlesnake! While I haven’t jumped out of a plane, I did have a close encounter with deadly snakes that I fortunately lived to tell about.
Adventure is something I am game for, so I’m not sure why I didn’t jump at the chance to go axe throwing when it was first proposed as a group event for our KW Business Women’s Association (https://www.kwbwa.com). I just couldn’t imagine these women picking up an axe and throwing it 15 feet across a room at a target. What do I know!
After a year or two of suggestive and intriguing stories of axe throwing, I thought, we really do need to give this a try. After all, Kendra Allen is an accomplished axe thrower and seems to truly love the sport, I should trust her judgment. If Kendra can do it, and very well I might add, then perhaps we may like it too! The only caveat was that Kendra had to be there to guide us through the experience.
So, with a little hesitation and not knowing how many would participate, I booked a group event at Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL). I was struck by the comment of a staff member when booking the event, “Everyone wants to throw an axe but they just don’t it yet.” which only became clear to me after the experience. Little did I know that I was going to enjoy this new sport. There are so many things to learn about axe throwing, it’s hard to imagine what the experience will be like until you actually give it a try.
We arrived at the venue, a unique space built in 1927 that has a rich history of sports, community and team building. At the time, I wonder if the groups that spent time at 69 Agnes Street recognized that their various sports teams were building comradery and team bonding with their 90 years of sporting events. The vibe in this old building was a perfect fit for spending time learning a new sport, or becoming a skilled axe throwing team member of one of the many leagues that meet there regularly.
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare for this sport. We were met with hip staff members who were delighted we had decided to spend our time in their world. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t bring something fun to wear. I did threaten to wear my sparkly high heel shoes just for fun, but I was quickly told it was not a good idea, as your footwear is very important. But truly, I could have worn sparkly sneakers! Next time, I will. There is something about the environment that sparked my creative juices. I wanted to join the artist who had painted the space and created a cool and funky design to add to the experience.
I had so many questions for a first time axe throwing female. Do I bring my own axe?
Can I get killed throwing an axe? Or worse, am I going to kill or injure someone throwing an axe? Of course I asked all of those questions. I was thrilled to find out that we were going to have our very own personal coach to guide us through the process and teach us axe throwing etiquette, safety tips and proper techniques for the sport. BATL takes their axe throwing very seriously ─ such a smart idea to match us up with someone who knows what they are doing. Although to be fair; we did have a pro with us, but Kendra was doing her very best to compete on a level playing field. She did everything she could to put herself at a disadvantage, throwing with her opposite hand, throwing underhand, and all of those little tricks that none of us knew anything about, but were quickly learning. While it’s not necessary to have someone in your group that is familiar with the sport of axe throwing, it was cool to see Kendra in her element.
With a little practice, I was quite surprised that I could actually throw an axe. After our first practice run I was comfortable with an axe in my hand, and forgot all about killing someone accidentally. In fact, I thought I was quite good in the first round, hitting several bullseyes. Perhaps this was a sport where I was naturally talented? In time my axe throwing experience would teach me otherwise. Axe throwing is definitely a skill and you do need to practice to develop it. The more I threw, the more I wanted to learn how to throw, and the more I knew that I was not a natural talent. I was amazed at how I immediately knew when the axe left my hand whether it was going to stick to the target or bounce off.
It was interesting to watch our group learn axe throwing for the first time. Some women tried the sport before and were excited to have another opportunity to participate. We played as teams and were happy for each other as we were successful and empathetic when we were failing miserably. As a networking group, we already knew the importance of connecting with one another, however coming together in a different venue, was different somehow. We were bonding and enjoying the team building benefits of the sport. Some of us showed our athletic ability and competitive nature while others revealed their quiet competence. For all of us though, it was pretty exhilarating hitting that bullseye target, and to do it again and again… well, let’s just say that luck played a role. Surprisingly, the winner of the game was not the one who had played before. That’s the fun thing about axe throwing, you’ll never know if you are going to be good at it unless you give it a try.
It’s an empowering feeling learning to throw an axe. It’s not easy to describe but I do have to agree with BATL when they told me I would want to do it again. What I discovered the next day was how out of shape I was from the experience. My body had not used many of the muscles that were needed for the sport. In hindsight, it was a great kick-start to my goal of getting in better physical shape.
My axe throwing adventure was a great one! The lesson for me in playing a sport that I was not familiar with was that I genuinely need to get out of my comfort zone. I need to be more adventurous and open to trying new things. As for the axe throwing enthusiasts, I have gained a great deal of respect for their sport and the skill required to play at a competitive level. For anyone who has never tried axe throwing, I highly recommend you throw it on your bucket list.