I’m not sure who the first person was to suggest throwing a very sharp object in the presence of alcohol, but they may have been a genius. I’d never tried axe throwing before walking into Joe K’s Brewhouse, and I was more than a bit nervous. That didn’t stop me, or other Traveling Dads from seeking bullseyes and glory in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Like a Lumberjack with a Hatchet
My wife and I enjoy watching the Great Outdoor Games when it comes on ESPN. I’m sure many of them are considered lumberjacks, and I am in awe when they throw axes with precision and apparent ease. Thankfully, no flannel is required, because I look awful in tartan. What is required is that you follow the rules, or you might lose an ear. What started as a team building exercise, quickly devolved into a fierce competition for the first team to 60 points. In the end, one set of Traveling Dads throwers achieved the magic number, while the other Traveling Dads were one point short!
Axe Throwing Sessions
The setup at Joe K’s Brewhouse was pretty great. They have 3 alleys for team play, with 2 throwing lanes in each. At the end of the alley is the wooden target with the magic bullseye. What I didn’t know, is that the bullseye isn’t the highest point spot on the target! In the upper right and upper left of the board are small green circles. Going for these will net you 5 points instead of 4 for the bullseye, but if you miss by just a little, you’ll only get a single point. Quite a big risk for one extra point, and a bit of glory. So, of course, we all went for it repeatedly.
Our session was two hours long, and included excellent instruction by Ethan. He showed us the proper technique for holding the axe, and where to safely stand so we kept all of our limbs at the end of the night. Where I though Ethan did an excellent job, was when he watched our axe throwing, and would help us adjust where to stand if the axe didn’t stick. This small thing went a long way towards everyone having a great time.
At our axe throwing venue, you had to be 21 years old to participate, and walk-ins are discouraged. If you can think of a group event, you’re probably welcome. Corporate events/corporate team building, bachelorette parties, private events, Chess Club members looking for a wild night out, you’re all welcome, as long as you’re 21.
Let’s get down to brass tax. This axe throwing expedition was all about bragging rights after we all got the hang of it. We are a testosterone-filled group in search of eternal glory (Remember, this is Traveling Dads. We have nothing but love and respect for women, and according to our Coach, Ethan, women actually perform better than men initially!). There were 9 axe throwers total, so teams were broken up 5 and 4. The first competition was to 60 points The target has three rings, worth 2 points for the outer circle, 3 for the middle, and 4 for the bullseye. As mentioned earlier, the green circle in the picture is worth 5.
It was a back and forth battle, where arm wrestling took place in between rounds to stay loose. To be clear, the arm wrestling was to see who could get the last of the sweet chili wings. The beers were flowing, and the TDADs were getting better and better. Team 2, consisting of Brian Armstead, Jason Greene, Kevin Gillooly, and Rick Dunlap (our Visit Harrisburg representative) eeked out a victory winning 60-59!
Seeking vindication and licking our wounds, we readied for “Around the World”. The team had to score points 1 through 5, in order, and then back down to 1. Outside the circles, but still on the wooden target. was worth 1 point. Both teams quickly got to 4, and then, a nightmare of near misses occurred for the next 20 minutes (felt like an hour). Traveling Dad after Traveling Dad narrowly missed that damn small circle. Expletives may have been uttered. I think I saw a couple people saying Hail Marys.
Eventually, I broke the drought and achieved the first 5 of the night, followed by a bullseye. We made somewhat quick work of 3,2,1 after that while Team 2 never got the elusive 5. Team 1, consisting of Paul Eisenberg, Tim Jones, Joe Cheung, Jeff Brownson, and me, had redeemed themselves. We briefly contemplated moving to Harrisburg and joining an axe throwing league, but decided against it in the end.
Should You Try Axe Throwing?
Of course you should. It’s very fun, and if you’re following the rules, plenty safe. The hatchets aren’t too heavy, and there’s protective wire between the throwing lanes and adjoining alleys. I think axe throwing would be a great date night event, or a double date night event. It was certainly more fun with a large group though in my opinion. Any special event would be spiced up nicely with axe throwing, except maybe putting sports rivals next to each other. I’m not sure hatchets, beer, and rivalries is a great idea…
I asked our coach whether he’d seen any injuries, and he said no. However, he did tell me about a near miss, where one man almost lost his “little man”, if you know what I mean. Both he, and the thrower, thought the axe had stopped bouncing after it didn’t stick on the board. The thrower started walking forward, and the axe took another bounce right between his legs, and mere inches from a free vasectomy! Needless to say, if you try axe throwing, make sure you wait an extra second or 10 before grabbing your axe if it doesn’t stick in the board.
Have I convinced you yet? Will you give an axe throwing experience a go?