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Everyone needs to throw an axe sometimes.
Said every mom ever.
At least I did when we saw an axe throwing studio in Montreal two years ago. We walked past this unassuming building with a logo of axes on the front doors. After doing a double take we had to walk inside. We were greeted by fenced-off lanes with a person holding an axe on one end an a wooden target on the other. And it really was as simple as it sounds: patrons were just throwing the axes at the targets.
I thought it was the most brilliant business idea I’d ever seen. I’m thinking birthday parties, girls night outs, bachelorette parties, Tuesday afternoons….
But, alas, we moved on. Dinner was waiting and I was a little nervous I didn’t have it in me to wield an axe in public.
I’ve thought about that place a lot in the last couple of years (not for any particular reason… no anger issues or stress over here… wink, wink), and always regretted that we didn’t have the gumption to ask for a lesson.
Well, fate rolled around on us and we found another axe throwing studio in Calgary, Alberta!
Fate is funny, isn’t she? Funny and oh-so-perfectly timed.
This time around we made plans to go axe throwing in Calgary on our second day in town. Hey, you never know when you’re going to fall in love with something and want to do it at Every. Possible. Opportunity!
Axe Throwing in Calgary
We went to BATL, the original axe throwing studio in Canada. Coincidentally the studio we stumbled on in Montreal was one of BATL’s sites, too! Man, I love second chances!
A burly man with a sweet beard, plaid shirt, and tattoos was just walking out of the studio as we parked our car. Gulp. Maybe this isn’t for us. No, Susannah, be strong!
I will admit that the toughest thing I did when we were axe throwing was to just enter the building!
Everyone inside was so incredibly nice to us. We were told how things work, offered a beverage, and asked to fill out some electronic waivers (just a formality. The throwing lanes are kept really safe!). The much-less-intimidating man behind the counter then led us through a pair of doors to the throwing space.
We were there on a Saturday afternoon during their “Free Throw” time. For a just a few hours on Saturdays you’re allowed to show up unannounced and pay for an hour of coached free axe throwing time.
There were two other groups who were already into their hours when we arrived, so we were added into the rotation. Two sets of two lanes were open during this time and a super nice guy was coaching in between them. He would give each set of lanes 5 mins to throw, then rotate another group in.
It doesn’t sound like much, but a few 5-minute rotations within an hour is about all the axe throwing you want to do. It’s an incredible feeling to hold the heavy (to little ole me) axe in your hands and be told to heft it over your head with all of your might, but boy does it take a toll on your body! I consider myself in the prime of my physical condition and I had tennis elbow and a sore back for the rest of the day!
I’ll just come out and admit that I’m not going to the axe throwing Olympics any time soon. I’m actually pretty terrible. Good thing the focus is on having a lot of fun! I’m happy to announce that what I lack in performance I make up for in attitude. With Ben, the perfect natural at everything, always throwing in the lane beside me we kept each other laughing the whole time.
It does feel good to hit the target, though.
Whenever I’d strike the board (versus the rubber mat hanging above the board or straight to the floor in front of it) I’d instinctively raise both arms and give a hearty “Woo hoo!” Eventually the other patrons started to clap with Ben because I couldn’t help but act so proud!
Our coach tried to help by carefully (and laughingly) showing me how to improve my grip, my stance, and lose my deep concentration, then telling me to imagine who I was really mad at. That sounds like amazing advice, but the fact is that I am in a really good place and not mad at anyone.
Except myself for missing that dang wooden target so much.
I tried to listen and absorb as much as he said, and when it worked… Wow. It worked.
There is no other feeling like getting the blade of an axe stuck inch-deep into wood from 10 feet away. I’m talking about the kind of stuck where you have to tug hard for it to come back out. That’s a stuck you can be proud of.
Axe Throwing: One of the best things to do in Calgary
I didn’t know what to expect before coming, but I feel so lucky that there are so many fun things to do in Calgary!
We like to go after adrenaline-pumping, unique experiences. After spending a week doing all sorts of unusual and fun things in Calgary I think axe throwing at BATL was my favorite. It was the sort of powerful experience that makes you think you can do anything, even laugh at yourself being ridiculous in public.
And I didn’t even have to imagine it being anyone’s head.
Interested in seeing just how pathetic I am at ax throwing? Even I can admit it was pretty funny!
Our visit to BATL Calgary was sponsored by Calgary Tourism and BATL. All opinions are my own.