Axe-Throwing: Our thoughts as First Time Throwers

To get involved in the community, we decided to look into the events happening around our area. With a simple Google search we found “Bury the Hatchet”, an axe-throwing warehouse community members often visit to blow off steam and compete in league competitions. Urban Axe Throwing highlights the benefits of participating in this type of activity. Axe-throwing can serve as a stress reliever by providing those with pent-up anger and stress with a cathartic release. Not only is axe-throwing an activity that can be enjoyed alone or used as a social outlet, but it is a perfect and unique workout for your core, shoulders, and legs. This modern sport that involves throwing sharp objects into a dartboard on a wooden wall brings up questions over the validity of axe-throwing as a sport. With a league competition occurring, we decided to book a session and really experience what this sport was “axe-ually” like.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by an employee, signed our waivers, and were immediately taken to an axe-throwing lane. We were given an axe-throwing lane just out of the way of the professionals as they were competing in the league. We were close enough to observe their skilled precision but just far enough out of the way for our amateur throws to be seen by them. After we made our way to our designated lane, we were given a quick rundown on the technique and how to perfect our ax-throwing form. The player stands behind the marked line and attempts to throw their axe into their desired area of the target which is a wooden board. Like most targets, the goal is to get the axe to land on the bullseye. In axe-throwing, getting the axe into the bullseye gives the player six points and the point value a player wins decreases the further the axe gets from the center of the target. We were shown two different techniques from our instructor, Elliot Deak. One of the techniques was an overhead throw where you hold the axe in both hands with your arms completely extended out in front of you and then lift the axe over your head and throw it straight ahead into the target. The other technique was an over-the-shoulder throw, but this time, one hand is holding onto the axe as it is lifted just over the shoulder and thrown into the target.

Pennridge senior, Odi Dibor, explores the stress-relieving benefits of axe throwing. (Caroline Montgomery)

The practice of launching an ax through the air and having it plunge into the wall was daunting. So as we stood, axes in hand and facing that target, fear crept in as we formulated all the possible scenarios that could go wrong. However, we were assured that there had been no injuries and that using the techniques we learned would set us up for success, and ensure that there were no “axe-idents”. Knowing this allowed us to have an anxiety-free axe-throwing session. Pennridge senior Caroline Montgomery was up first, and so she stepped up to the line marking the floor with an axe in both hands. The first throw was a miss, but as we continued on we became more comfortable. Anna Hensler, a fellow first-time axe thrower said, “I enjoyed axe throwing… I wasn’t very good but I still had fun.” With a few bulls eyes here and there, our fear from before was replaced with enjoyment as we released all that pent up anxiousness from before into our throws. “I didn’t think I would get hurt, but the few times it bounced back I got a little scared,” Hensler said thinking back to our axe-throwing session. After warming up, our instructor came back to inform us of a few games we could play. We decided to start off with a game called “The Race to 50”. In this game, we each took turns throwing at the target and recording the number of points we got for each throw. The first player to get to 50 points was named the winner.

Pennridge seniors, Caroline Montgomery (Left) and Odi Dibor (right) prepare to start their axe-throwing session. (Anna Hensler)

After our time playing, this sport no longer felt like just a dangerous game of playing with sharp objects. It was a sport that required patience, precision, power, and technique. A perfect balance of each of those qualities would require hours of practice. We interviewed our axe-throwing instructor and employee at Bury the Hatchet, Elliot Deak, to gain a little more insight into her experience with axe-throwing. She started axe-throwing in 2019 after spending some time with her friend who worked there as well. Deak liked the idea of learning how to throw an axe because it’s not something that everyone can say they can do. Especially with the lack of female representation, developing this skill became a confidence builder. We knew upon arrival the catharsis axe-throwing can provide, Deak agreed and went on to note that, “sometimes you need that physicality of doing something to express your anger in a way that’s not necessarily calm, like meditation or breathing.”

The allure of axe-throwing grabs the attention of a diverse demographic meaning that there are a wide variety of reactions that Deak witnesses from first-time axe-throwers. “Usually, people are nervous,” she says. “Younger people tend to be more excited.” Deak went on to explain how people tend to get frustrated when they miss the target, but that once you get the hang of it, you can “just do it mindlessly once you’re able to get good enough that way you can kind of zone into it,” noting that this is also her favorite part. As for our thoughts on axe-throwing after having the chance to experience it, we now know just how much skill is required as well as how enjoyable it is. Hensler, when asked about her thoughts and whether or not she would like to go axe-throwing again, said “I would go axe-throwing again. I thought it was very fun and I do think it is a very good stress reliever because you kind of have to use your whole body to throw it and if you throw as hard as you can it could be a good stress relief and good anger management.” Just like Hensler, we enjoyed our time at Bury the Hatchet and would like to go axe throwing again, as it is perfect for a hangout or even just to blow off steam alone.