Er… what? At least, that’s probably what you’re thinking as soon as you see the title of this post. But we’re not joking. It’s no euphemism. We honestly want you to go chuck a sharp, heavy piece of metal as hard as you can—Viking style.
Wait, hold on… we don’t mean right now with the axe in your back shed. We mean safely, in a facility designed to teach you properly and with expert staff on hand to supervise. Believe it or not, there are such places. Do you want to do something different this weekend? Well, as we said: Go throw an axe!
BATL Grounds, Pickering
Like all epic business ventures, the Backyard Axe Throwing League, or BATL Grounds, began as a pastime for a group of friends. “It was a reason to get together once a week and catch up,” recalls CEO Matt Wilson. “I was at a friend’s cottage back in 2006, and it was a rainy weekend. There wasn’t a whole lot of desire to head out onto the lake, so we ended up having some ponchos on and there were some logs around and one of my buddies pulled out a hatchet. Before we knew it, we had come up with some simple rules and started challenging each other to a form of match competition.”
Today, axe throwing at BATL Grounds is a North American phenomenon, with additional locations in places like Nashville, Calgary and Chicago. Want to make it a solo activity? No problem. Small group of friends? Heck yeah. Birthday bash extravaganza? Bring it on!
The minimum age is sixteen (though younger individuals can come along and watch) and only you can say if you’re too old or not up for the challenge physically. We hope you don’t, though. Not when staff at BATL Grounds have hosted a birthday party for a 92-year-old and instructed a Paralympic athlete who uses a wheelchair.
You may be tempted to consider axe throwing a masculine pastime as well. If you do, you’d be wrong. It might surprise you to learn that nearly half of BATL’s league members (yes, there is an actual, competitive league) are female, and that bachelorette parties are frequent occurrences. “It’s not about power,” Matt Wilson says, “not about being stronger. It’s really about technique and making sure you’re executing the motion fluidly and accurately.”
Really, ladies. Be honest. There are times were you just want to hurl an axe at something, aren’t there? After all, as Matt says, “I think that everywhere, everybody wants to throw an axe. They just don’t know it yet.”
Easthill Outdoors, Orono
So you’re not quite sold on axe throwing, but you’re still looking for something different to do. Maybe your style is more Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games than Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings. We hear you. If you think being “Brave” like Princess Merida sounds pretty darn cool, then it should be no surprise to you that the popularity of archery as a recreational activity is on the rise, too.
At Easthill Outdoors in Orono, it’s not about being athletic or strong, or having the kind of super-human hand-eye coordination that gets you top billing for a Hollywood blockbuster. “It’s something where you’re challenging yourself, you’re not challenging anybody else,” says instructor and archery expert Amanda Shaughnessy. “It’s just you and that arrow, one arrow at a time.”
You determine how often you visit, based on what your lifestyle is and what you’re comfortable with. Avid and competitive archers are known to take up the bow several times a week, whereas recreational and occasional shooters may test out their skills once a week or less. The point is to try. To discover something knew that you never thought you would be interested in.
Maybe archery is something you’d like to get the whole family into, too. We’re pretty confident your kids are going to love it. We bet farthings to feathers that they’re already doing it on their gaming consoles anyway. Take the controller out of their grip and put a bow in it instead. It gets them outdoors into the fresh air and gives your family the opportunity to create unique memories.
In fact, family recreation is something Easthill Outdoors promotes. “Archery is a family-type activity, and Easthill is definitely a family atmosphere” Amanda insists. “That follows you from the front door right out to the range. We don’t want you to just come in and shoot your bow, we want to know who you are.”