Axe throwing hits the target with Edmonton's cutting-edge crowd

Bored with bowling? Disinterested by darts? Does hitting the billiards hall just feel blase? There's a new way for you to hone that hand-eye co-ordination and blow off steam.

The traditional sport of the Canadian lumberjack is gaining popularity in Edmonton

CBC columnist Chris Tse and Edmonton AM's traffic reporter Garrette McGowan gave axe-throwing a try. (CBC Edmonton)

Bored with bowling? Disinterested by darts? Does hitting the billiards hall just feel blasé? There's a new way for you to hone that hand-eye co-ordination and blow off steam.

A growing number of Edmonton urban-dwellers are feeling the zeal of flying steel with recreational axe throwing.

The traditional sport of the Canadian lumberjack has become a popular pastime for people of all backgrounds looking to build their brawn, according to Edmonton AM's outdoor fitness columnist Chris Tse.

Edmonton's first axe-throwing club opened last September. Since then the aptly named Axe Hole, near Kingsway, has been teeming with novice timber cruisers.

Inside the hall, you can pick the battle axe of your choice, chuck it down a galley, and do your best to hit the bright red bull's eye, carved out of a tree trunk.

"It's slightly more dangerous than traditional darts," said Tse. "It's not that dangerous."

CBC's Garrett McGowan and personal trainer Chris Tse give axe-throwing a shot. They review the activity from an exercise and entertainment point of view on Edmonton AM with guest host Trisha Estabrooks. 3:32
 Not only does axe throwing give you a powerful adrenaline rush, it's a great way to tone your muscles to lumberjack proportions.

"It's actually a very full body workout." said Tse  "From a fitness perspective, sometimes you need to go out there and shoot the poop and do something for fun. You work up a good sweat."

A number of semi-professional leagues have formed, and the club has had to expand their hours to accommodate demand. They're even working on opening a licensed lounge in the viewing gallery. (Mixing beer and battle axes may be the best, worst idea we've heard in years.)

A second club is cashing in on the trend. Bad Axe Throwing just opened up on the outskirts of the Belvedere neighbourhood.

Tse took Edmonton AM traffic and weather reporter Garrette McGowan down to the Axe Hole to give hatchet hucking a shot.

"I was pretty good at it. There's not many things I can walk in and be good at," McGowan said with a laugh as he relished the moment where he hit the bullseye.

"There must be something in my genes that allows me to be good at axe throwing. I'm naturally rugged"

 Despite what you might think, you don't need to be built like Conan the Barbarian to heave a battle axe; it's all in how you wield your steel.

Despite his fitness prowess, Tse — a personal trainer by trade — struggled to master the axe.

"There was a little bit of frustration at the beginning. Garette hit the target after the second throw. For me, it took about 10, 15 minutes. I went to a deep, dark place.

"I was just not hitting anything, it just bounced right off, but after that the instructor gave me some tips, I was acing every shot.

"We had a pretty good man date." 

Since the Axe Hole opened in north Edmonton, the club has been teeming with urban lumberjacks. (Axe Hole )


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