Axe Throwing: A New Way to Unwind in the City

There are several things you can do in this city to unwind. A nice glass of Pinot, a few standstill miles on the treadmill, or, you know, hucking axes at huge wooden targets. Did that last one ‘throw’ you? Thought it might. Believe it or not, this backyard sport is fast becoming a staple throughout the city. Young professionals (YPs) of all kinds are lining up to hurl their favourite blades and chop each other down in competition. So we thought we’d check it out for a night and let you know what you’re missing.

The Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) has become so popular it’s opening up a second location in Toronto. The original, where we headed, is tucked inside the back of a warehouse on Sterling Ave, just south of Bloor near Lansdowne Ave. Their second location is set to open shortly at Cherry Beach and is about four times the size of the Sterling location.  

We admit, stepping in can be a little intimidating. After all, there are dozens of strangers busy drinking beer and wielding hatchets. But the friendliness of the community at large becomes immediately apparent. Everyone is there to have a good time and it’s pretty clear they are all having a good time. And they want you to, too. While tattoos and beards seem to prevail, it’s clear there isn’t a necessary mark or initiation necessary to join, only the enthusiasm to step up to the block and show your stuff. Cause this crowd takes their chucking seriously. There are four league nights a week (Sunday through Wednesday) and each one comes with a different skill level. For instance, Tuesday night is made up mostly by the crew who started doing this when the only available space was still in someone’s backyard. Which pretty much means they’re the guys you’d want on your side when the Zombie Apocalypse comes screaming into town. Besides joining the league – they offer five two-month ‘seasons’ throughout the year – this is a fantastic place to hold a birthday party or give your corporate event a little more of the edge you’re looking for. 

Scoring is straightforward and there’s always someone willing to pick up the pen and mark your tosses. Drinking is BYOB and BATL’s Beau’s sponsorship means you’ll often find an extra keg kicking around during the playoffs. But it’s the actual throwing of the axes that makes this experience so enticing. Putting your foot on a concrete block while you steady your blade, swinging your body first forward then back and forward again, and releasing your axe in a great, confused flurry toward the large wooden target is visceral, primitive, and wholly satisfying. Thinking it’s like darts on steroids is going about it the wrong way. Axe throwing is a full-body experience – one that continually challenges you to make minor adjustments (both physical and mental) in order to up your game. Two-handed throws vs. one-handed, which foot to lead with, how far to swing – these are just a few of the things every axe-wielder must consider before each throw. Oh, and where to rest their beer of course. 

Based on our experience, it would seem axe throwing is here to stay in Toronto. So we suggest you get yourself down to the hurling grounds and see for yourself. For whatever reason, we promise that managing to stick a sharp blade in a bullseye at the end of a long day will be one of the most satisfying feelings you’ve had all year.

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