We retain many things from our ancient ancestors: wisdom teeth, beer brewing, and apparently the ability to throw an axe.
While we’ve likely been throwing axes at stuff since the first one was made, axe throwing as a sport developed where many great things do: a guy’s backyard in Canada. Since 2006, it’s developed into the National Federation of Axe Throwing Federation (NFAT) to standardize rules and equipment, with leagues, tournaments, and the illustrious Wilson Cup.
Remarkably, axe throwing does not require a Paul Bunyan-like physique or even experience felling trees. Almost anyone can do it, and do it well. You’ll be using a standard axe — a hatchet — measuring in at 13 inches to 17 inches long and weighing only a couple of pounds. Though, you do get to throw the large, traditional axe during a tiebreaker.
The wooden target is about 14 feet from the line from where you’ll throw. The perfected design of the axe coupled with good ol’ fashioned physics means you’ll likely get the hang of the throw pretty quickly. Fences, strictly enforced rules, and etiquette are all designed to keep your limbs in their original positions, but you are hurling a giant, sharp blade over your head, across the room, so don’t mess around.
And man, is it fun. In an increasingly digital where our hands are required to do little more than push buttons, which often aren’t even real buttons (thanks, Steve Jobs), it’s ridiculously satisfying when that axe sticks into the wood and when you have to work to wrench it back out.
So, where do you get to engage in some new old-fashioned axe throwing? Below are some of our favorites from around the United States.
LA AX just opened a 12,500-square-foot North Hollywood location, which can host 325 axe throwers. The space is welcoming and appropriately cool, with a graffiti mural and helmed by a crack team, including Operations Manager Carly, aka Seven, who’s earned the impressive 81-perfect score.
So long as you’re 21 or over, you can walk in during the evenings or reserve a spot for your group — anything from a date night to a large corporate event. “Axeperts” are on hand to help you get the hang of the throw, teach games, and arbitrate round robin tournaments. LA AX also offers weekly leagues.
It’s in the process of getting its liquor license, so for now, it’s BYO food, though food trucks often show up. LA AX is primed to corner Los Angeles axe throwing with future locations in Orange County, Santa Monica, West Valley, Culver City, Anaheim, Riverside, and Bakersfield.
Durham, Philadelphia, Austin, and Baltimore (Coming soon: Boston and Cincinnati)
Urban Axes really lives up to its name, choosing to repurpose old warehouses for its lanes. This growing chain, too, offers the option of group events, leagues, and walk-in hours for those days when you just really need to throw a damn axe.
You can bring in your own food, but Urban Axes can also cater private events, though everyone must be 21 or older. The Austin and Philly locations are BYOB (except liquor) and provide fridges to keep your brews cold, but the other sites will have beer and wine for sale. Gift cards are a badass idea for any occasion requiring a present! Imagine a newlywed couple getting the gift of axe throwing instead of a toaster.
Canada and the U.S.
Don’t let the punny name fool you — Bad Axe is very good at axe throwing. This is the largest axe throwing club, spreading hatchet happiness from the Canadian base down into the States, from Atlanta to San Diego.
Bad Axe has the same set-up: walk-ins allowed, reservations — especially for large groups — available and encouraged, and the opportunity to join a league.
These guys actually allow kids to throw if supervised by a parent or guardian, though the Chicago location does require visitors 18 or older. Feel free to bring your own food and drinks, and for that matter, your own axe if you feel so inclined (except in Chicago).
Brooklyn, New York (Coming soon: D.C. and Philadelphia)
This Brooklyn location is certainly the most posh option on the list. It looks like a rich person’s idea of a mountain hunting lodge, complete with comfy seating, animal heads on the walls, chandeliers, and just the right amount of plaid. Flannel shirts, faux tattoo sleeves, and beards are also provided for your ideal photo opportunity.
Posted by Kick Axe Throwing on Tuesday, October 23, 2018
By now you should know the drill: walk-ins okay, in which you might get paired with strangers, though it certainly beats Tinder for your “how’d you meet”story. Reservations are available for groups, though they’re very strict about getting the entire party there on-time. Kids 8 years and up are allowed to throw if the “Ax-pert” deems them strong enough, but an adult must keep an eye on kiddies at all times, what with the flying metal blades and all.
Kick Axe sells beer, wine, soda, and ridiculously crunchy thin-crust pizza from Table 87; the chain also has catering packages for private events.
Around the U.S.
All right Tempe, Chicago, Nashville, Jacksonville, Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio: grab your axes! Or, just use the ones they provide.
Class Axe requires people to be 15 and older to throw, and like the rest of the ones on this list, offers up leagues. You can bring your own food and drinks, including beer and wine — hard liquor is not allowed and, to everyone’s relief, drunk people will be asked to leave — but catering is not an option.
To your axes!