a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Nov, 2018

Axe throwing in Ottawa? YES. And here’s how it went down…

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa

So I went axe throwing and it was a real hatchet job. ;)

If you haven’t heard about axe throwing you are going to want to listen up. It has all the elements of a great night out with a group. It’s recreational, competitive, team building, and social! It’s also very fun.

I took a stab at axe throwing in Toronto a few years ago and have been meaning to visit the Ottawa locale but never managed to get around to it. So when my friend Candace from Life in Pleasantville posted the invitation on Facebook I knew it was FINALLY TIME to revisit.

The location was BATL (the Backyard Axe Throwing League) in Ottawa’s east end, in an industrial park on Lancaster Road. The date that was chosen was the night of the US midterm elections. I was secretly grateful to be getting out of the house and away from the news channels!

After signing the (very detailed) waiver, I ordered a cider from the bar and met the rest of our group. We were led to our area and met our coaches for an Intro to Ax Throwing 101. Surprisingly, few of us had done this before but there were no professional axe throwers among us.

After an easy warm up and an explanation of how the evening would unfold, we proceeded to the next stage, which was more competitive.

Each pair of participants played three rounds against one another, and each round consisted of five throws. Points are awarded based on where your axe lands on the target: five if it’s in the middle, three in the red zone, one in the blue. Anything outside of that = zero points. (There’s a bit more to it – there’s a green dot too but it’s only in play during final rounds – but that about sums it up.)

Our amazing coach, Alex, kept score on an iPad, which was connected to a television screen so we could all see the points accumulating.

I think I went up against three other people, or was it four? Clearly, I was too busy having fun to keep track of the details or take many photos. This will give you an idea of the setup here:

BATL Axe throwing Ottawa

I think it’s important to say that I never felt unsafe, or scared. A few of us talked about how we were MILDLY WORRIED about lobbing it backwards, like one might a bowling ball. The funny thing is, once you’re there you realize that it’s impossible to throw it anywhere but in a forward direction. (Doh.)

How can I describe the feeling of throwing that axe?
Axe throwing Ottawa

It really is exhilarating. It’s more strenuous than I would have guessed, but not difficult. The hatchets have some heft to them and the repeated action of lobbing them over your head in a modified pitching motion definitely uses muscles that aren’t in regular rotation (at least for me). I should point out that these were all two-handed throws, but we also had a chance to try throwing the axes single-handedly. It was a lot harder than I thought, and I definitely felt it in the morning!

Imagine standing at the line, facing the target. You grasp the handle of the axe firmly in the palm of one hand and wrap the other one around it. The handle is smooth and your hands are hot. You raise the hatchet back over your head, square your shoulders, and let it fly in one long motion. (I learned quickly that the follow-through part of this is very important to landing a good throw, so is good posture, and it was immediately apparent to me if I let one loose that wasn’t going to land.)

And when your axe sails through the air and lands in the wood with a hard thunk, well, as you can imagine it’s extremely gratifying, especially if it ends up in the target.

I definitely got better the more I did it but I will say that about half of my throws bounced off the target or landed weakly and fell.

After the first rounds were over the top scorers began a tournament between themselves. And guess who came out on top? THIS GAL. Don’t I looked as pleased as punch in the photo above? It wasn’t even my best throw!

So here’s the big question. How does it compare to other group activities and things to do in Ottawa such as bowling, pool, or darts? Well, it doesn’t quite compare. The element of danger, even though ax throwing is pretty safe, definitely makes this a lot more thrilling than an ordinary game of pool.

Have you been axe throwing in Ottawa? Would you consider trying it?

1 Response to "Axe throwing in Ottawa? YES. And here’s how it went down…"

1 | Alison in Ottawa

November 11th, 2018 at 1:01 pm


I was disappointed to find out the minimum age is 16. While it makes sense, we will have to wait for a while before we go.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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