Can you love doing something that you stink at? That was the axe-istential question as I threw axes for about an hour this past Saturday at BATL (4842 W. Irving Park Road) in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. (Note: Until recently, BATL was known as Thunderbolt Axe Throwing.) I was as bad at axe-throwing as Mozart was good at composing—and probably axe-throwing, too. After hitting the general target area 3 times out of 5 the first time I threw, I might have splintered wood a few times out of 50 throws or so after that. Each time I threw thereafter, my axe found new ways to clank off the target–or completely miss the target. My axe throws broke the laws of physics. Einstein showed up and thumbed his nose at me. Stephen Hawking didn’t even make the trip from the hereafter. And sometimes my axe seemed to be almost going to another continent the minute it left my hands. If I run for office, video of my axe throwing will doom my candidacy (akin to Michael Dukakis wearing the helmet in the tank during the presidential election of 1988).
It wasn’t pretty, but axe-throwing was something new and fun to do on a Saturday afternoon. It didn’t help that my good friends Greg and Nancy, I mean Paul and Paulina Bunyan, quickly became adept at hitting the bullseye or getting pretty close.
So, the answer to the axe-istential question is that perhaps I didn’t love axe-throwing, but I liked it a lot. After a short-training session, we went at it—tossing axes repeatedly with a goal of scoring points for every hit in the bullseye. You can either throw two-handed from behind your back, or throw one-handed from your side. I favored the one-handed throwing method. Despite my modest returns, it was fun to try something different, use muscles that I haven’t utilized since we had a different president, and have some fun with friends. The staff at BATL were very helpful and supportive, and it was great to get ongoing feedback as I threw.
Axe-throwing is a great way to lose the winter blues and have some physical fun. I enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone, and I will definitely head back to improve my skills. I suggest that you give it a try—or a throw.
In addition to checking out BATL (which also has locations in several U.S. and Canadian cities), try the following axe-throwing venues:
- Bad Axe (West Loop, North Side, and locations throughout the United States and Canada):
- Ragnorok (downtown Chicago)
Some final thoughts:
- Due to safety issues, young children cannot participate. At some axe-throwing businesses, children age 14 and older can participate, while at other businesses, the minimum age is 16 or 17. Our kids watched us for a bit, then spent the rest of the time playing monster Jenga.
- Some axe-throwing businesses have full bars or allow you to bring your own alcohol. In Chicago, alcohol is banned at these businesses.
- The cost of throwing an axe varies by business. We paid a little more than $20 for an hour’s axe-throwing time.
Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes
Copyright (photos) Andrew Morkes/Amy McKenna