Oh yes, THIS IS A THING. AND IT’S AWESOME.
BATL (Backyard Axe Throwing League) is exactly what it sounds like: a place to throw axes at targets with your friends. I had looked into doing this for my birthday back in October, but they were already fully booked until December! Luckily, my friend Daniel managed to book a Sunday afternoon in February and twelve of us got to partake in some good ol’ fashioned axe throwin’ to
test confirm our friendship.
There are several locations in and around Toronto, and we had the Toronto West (213 Sterling Road) location booked. It was just a short walk away from the Lansdowne subway station. It’s not immediately visible but just look out for a small sign! The place itself was a fully private throwing area with a refrigerator and table for drinks (the place is BYOB!). We brought beer cans and a bottle of wine with plastic cups.
We signed waiver forms on an iPad while waiting for everyone in our party to arrive. Then we were introduced to our staff members: Julie, Ryan, and Bowie. They gave us introductory lessons and individual coaching while we did some target practice. They told us how many points each ring was worth, as well as the green ‘clutch’ circles.
Surprisingly, the actual technique of axe throwing had much less to do with the force of throwing than the positioning and finesse of swinging your body and the axe. It ended up being more of a core than arm workout for me! The staff were also great in identifying what exactly you were doing wrong and how you could improve. I managed to get my very first axe to stick to the board (which was inevitably followed by a slew of axe-duds)!
Once we were all warmed up, we had a round robin. Each round started with axe-throwing contenders clanging their axes together. I battled it out with my beloved (we both threw so poorly, haha) which ended in a round of throwing the big axe! We had a couple of tiebreakers that were determined by bringing out the big axe. The absolute best play though happened when Simon called a ‘clutch’ and nailed it straight on! INSANEEEE.
After a break for the staff to tally up the scores, we battled it out in the playoffs! The top four winners/scorers got an automatic buy-in to the next round. I have to say, everyone seemed exponentially better in the playoffs than the previous rounds, haha. It got really close in all of these rounds and was pretty intense!
Finally, Radu was crowned our axe-throwing champion! The staff showed us some other axe-throwing techniques (one-handed, one in each hand, underhand) and then we all cleaned up our drinks and things. Overall, we spent just over three hours here. We paid about $45/person, which translates to roughly $15/hour – not bad at all!
I completely enjoyed this afternoon way more than I was expecting to. It’s a surprisingly accessible sport, too – I’m 5’0 and have next to no upper body strength, and I came into the event excited for the experience but not really expecting to actually hit anything, haha. But I did! And by the time we were in the playoffs, I was pretty consistent with getting the axe to hit within the rings and (mostly) stick firmly to the board. I highly, highly recommend this and would love to do it again!