Backyard Axe Throwing League

Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL)

By: Alexis Fabricius

The first things I noticed were the sounds; they are distinctive, specific and curious. You can hear the din well before you walk into the spacious, high ceilinged space: the hazy sound of booming voices cheering, the clanging of beer cans, the metallic ring of steel-on-steel, the deafening sound of tools used to sharpen blades, and the awesome thud of an axe hitting wood.

Naturally, I’m talking about my axe throwing league.

January 1, 2013 105

As a self-professed nerd, I am always looking for the newest thing to capture my attention and keep my interest. I’ve never played a game of Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve never gotten into WoW, and I’ve never been much of a Star Trek fan; however, I get my nerd-fix in other ways, usually in the form of bizarre hobbies and unusual activities. The latest thing to hold my interest is my beloved Backyard Axe Throwing League.

I first read an article in the newspaper about it here in Toronto, and mentally filed that away under “must check out soon.” One day, I heard that a long-time friend of mine had also stumbled across it and had joined. He brought me to his next game, which happened to be a championship night. Now, like most nerds, I’m not one to follow sports. This, though, was like no sport I had ever seen (probably cause it was a.) actually interesting to me, and that was likely due to the fact that b.) it had axes). I watched people hurl axes at targets, my eyes wide, my mouth agape, and my whole body in total shock. Everything inside me was screaming, “THIS. IS. AWESOOOOOOOME!”

After the championship games had concluded, the head of BATL, Wilson, showed me how to throw an axe. The Backyard Axe Throwing Leaguefirst time that you sink an axe into wood – oh man, it’s awesome. I wanted to turn to him right there, offer him a bag of rubies, the deed to my house and my first born child in exchange for a lifetime membership, though decided that it would probably be better to pace myself and join for a single season initially.

This is a league. We have point standings. The goal is to win as many games and collect as many points as possible within a single season (which runs for eight weeks).  During a game, two league members will square off and throw at two separate targets simultaneously. The target is similar to an archery target; a bull’s eye counts as 5 points, the second ring counts as 3 points, and the outer ring counts as 1 point. Each game consists of three rounds, and a round consists of 5 throws. The goal is to win two of your three rounds. In the event of a tie, we move to a tie-breaker round, which we affectionately refer to as “Big Axe”, because we are throwing a full-sized axe (we use hatchets in regular game play).

Now, I understand that axe throwing doesn’t necessarily sound inherently nerdy, and it probably isn’t nerdy at all to many of my fellow league members. To me, I feel epic as hell when I’m throwing axes; kinda makes me feel like I should be in LOTR (not as a dwarf though, I don’t like those beards.).  I feel like a freakin’ Viking warrior who will destroy your clan and pillage your lands (though I could probably be persuaded otherwise after a few drinking horns full of mead).

I love that the league draws upon a really diverse crowd; there is everything from tattooed hipsters (sooooo much plaid) to 9-5 kinda folks to metal kids to Magic card playin’ nerds to actors and personal trainers (and on a side note, half of the staff at The Drake, a Toronto staple, seem to be a part of this league, too).

I’ll leave you with a few interesting tidbits related to steel axes and superstitions: A thrown axe was thought to keep off a hailstorm (that obviously explains why they’re relatively scarce here in Toronto. You’re welcome.). An axe would sometime be placed in crop fields with the cutting edge facing towards the sky to protect the harvest from inclement weather (totally works – it’s how I saved my corn yield in the summer). An upright axe buried under the sill of a house was thought to keep witches at bay during the Middle Ages (False. Upright axes buried under the sill of a house actually attract witches), while an axe kept under the bed would assure male offspring (Lizzie Borden-esque rationale. I like it.).

Check out our awesome site and our Facebook page (B.A.T.L. – Backyard Axe Throwing League).


Alexis Fabricius

About the Author: This is Alexis Fabricius’ fourth season throwing axes. While she’s not the best, she’s not the worst (except for her first season, where she came in last place. Then she was emphatically the worst). Alexis is the owner and head instructor of Invicta Self-Defense, a company that aims to teach self-defense to women of all walks of life.