If you’re looking for a fun night out that also helps you to learn a new skill, then you can’t go past axe throwing. That’s what I discovered as a bunch of us gathered to celebrate my friend’s 40th by learning to hurl an axe at a target.
And it really is a learnt skill. I find that out as I throw my axe for the (seemingly) billionth time, only to watch it soar through the air before falling limply to the floor without so much as grazing the target in front of me.
But as the night wears on and we get more instructions from the enthusiastic staff, I begin to get the hang of it. I leave an hour or so later feeling exhilarated, with slightly aching arms and a strong desire to return.
My excitement is the exact feeling that Tyson McMillan, co-owner of Lumber Punks, tries to infuse in each person who walks through the doors of his axe-throwing facility. He’s been blown away by the overwhelming response to his business, which first opened in Australia at its Gold Coast venue in 2017 and now has locations throughout the country.
Lumber Punks encourages groups or individuals to come in and try axe throwing as a one-off, but they also have a league for dedicated throwers.
But it’s not just for those looking to blow off steam. In fact, McMillan says such stereotypes form his “pet peeves” as they sorely misrepresent the sport, which he says is far more about being social than it is about aggression. “It’s an accuracy game, not an anger game,” he says. He likens it to both darts and golf, saying it’s not how hard you throw the axe but your technique that counts.
While the sport is about accuracy, it’s also good for your body says accredited exercise physiologist Tara Jenkins from Rebound Health in Sydney. As the activity focuses on the shoulders and upper body, she says it’s a “great exercise for developing overhead mobility, strength and power”. It can also improve balance, co-ordination and reaction times, she adds.
While it tends to attract a younger demographic, McMillan has had people of all ages and abilities come through his doors. “It’s probably the most inclusive sport I’ve ever seen,” he says. “If anyone can pick up an axe, we can teach them how to throw.”