Axe throwing is the most satisfying day or night out you’ll ever have. Or so I’ve heard.
The sport, which involves throwing axes of various sizes at wooden targets, was brought to the UK by friends Jools Whitemore and John Nimmons.
Setting up Whistle Punks in London, they went on to open venues in Manchester and Birmingham, and have recently announced the opening of two new sites in 2019.
You can book a one-and-a-half-hour session costing £25 per person Wednesday to Saturday and £20 per person at off-peak times. Eager to try out this axe throwing phenomenon I’d heard so much about, I booked myself and three friends places in one of their Friday evening slots at the Great Northern Warehouse.
But what did I get for my money, and is it really worth it?
When we arrived I was surprised to discover that there isn’t a bar inside the venue. On reflection, however, drinking alcohol and axe throwing are probably two activities you want to keep separate.
The venue does have soft drinks, hot beverages and the odd snack or two available for purchase.
We were greeted by a friendly face who asked us to sign our lives away – actually a disclaimer form confirming we were responsible for our own actions should anything happen to us. Which I suppose is fair enough. We were going to throw axes after all.
If you include your email address during sign-in – which I didn’t – you receive a 10% discount off your next booking. Dammit.
We were led to a waiting area where there were a few light-hearted games to mess around with while we waited including a miniature ping pong table with not very bouncy balls and a velcro darts board with velcro balls that didn’t really stick.
Was this a trick to make us enjoy the actual axe throwing more or am I just over analysing? Either way, it was entertaining enough watching one of our friends running round the venue catching our rouge balls.
We were then greeted by our group leaders, Jonny and Kyle, who talked us through the evening’s activities. First we were given a brief axe throwing masterclass, and in teams we were taught the art of throwing hatchets at targets using two techniques – one handed and two handed throws.
After several failed attempts at successfully landing a board-splintering throw, Kyle demoted me to a baby axe. But I’m a professional, so that hasn’t affected this review.
On my second attempt at mastering the two techniques, the other team leader, Jonny, talked me through what to do, and before I knew it I was landing fully-sized axes into the targets. The sweet smell of success.
After the masterclass came a tournament with members of other groups, with ten of us battling against each other. Points were awarded depending on how close to the bullseye we landed an axe, with a special seven points awarded for hitting a small circle on the top corner of each board.
Ranked from last to first place based on how many games each person had won, the top four players then went on to battle it out for the golden axes and the chance to have their name on the wall, carved into wood of – course.
Imagine my surprise, the only one in the group to be temporarily demoted to a baby axe, coming third out of 10 people. I think that’s an achievement in itself considering I could barely hit the target board an hour before.
Here it was, my chance to prove I was the most manly of my group of friends. Axe in hand, my semi-finals battle commenced against one of my own gang. The finish line was in sight and I was ready to take home the title of Axe Wielding King.
The game ended 18-1, as my friend made it into the final battle, which he won. Needless to say, that was the end of my axe throwing glory,
After a much deserved, non-alcoholic beverage, it was time for the group leaders to teach us some extra special axe throwing techniques which included throwing two axes at once and backwards axe throwing.
Our experience then came to an end. Time really does fly when you’re throwing axes around.
The staff were all extremely helpful, friendly and great axe throwing guides. They made the experience more entertaining, and it was obvious that they enjoyed their roles. Even the one who demoted me to the baby axe.
Although not at all what I expected, it turned out to be an extremely fun, well spent evening. It brought groups of people together that might never have crossed paths, offered some much needed stress relief. And beating two of my friends and making it into the final rounds didn’t hurt either.
At £25 per person, my initial thoughts were that it was a slightly expensive experience – especially if you’re going with a large group. But after participating in the event myself, I’d happily pay £25 to do it all over again in the future. In fact, I can’t wait to go back.