It’s a New Year. You could make cliche resolutions like exercising more and eating healthier that might last for a month at best. Or you could make a fun resolution, that you actually want to achieve. A new year is great for trying new activities and hobbies. To that end, I submit…axe throwing. Yep! A new import from Canada, axe throwing is a growing sport that has now reached Los Angeles. Welcome to LA AX.
New Sport, Who Dis?
LA AX is a member of the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF), a governing body of the burgeoning sport. This means they follow safety specifications and regulations and is going to be a safer experience than you get at unlicensed facilities. Plus, the new location is amazing! 12,500 square feet is big enough for up to 325 people, with 24 targets set up in pairs. A large spectator area provides tables and chairs for groups and parties. As of our visit, LA AX didn’t have a liquor license yet but was hoping to serve beer and wine in the near future.
Our introduction to the sport went very smoothly. We were taught by one of the top-ranked competitors in NATF, Carly. She’s originally from Canada, where the sport is more widespread, and is now a regular instructor and competitor for LA AX. Dividing us into pairs, she introduced us to the axes and their dimensions. These are officially “hatchets,” so don’t get any ideas about doubled-edged battle axes from Lord of the Rings. After showing us the grip, the throwing form, and the release, Carly stood back and watched as we threw too high, or bounced off the wooden targets. That gave her enough information to adjust our stances and distance from the bullseye.
Taking The Edge Off
We improved rapidly after that, sticking several axes into the wood with a satisfying thunk. Throwing more confidently enabled us to focus on aim, and I believe my opponent (Lacey) and I got at least one in the center bullseye at some point. When we had a handle on it, Carly switched us out for the other 2 members of our group and patiently taught the same information to them. Even though they had just seen and heard everything, LA AX takes safety seriously and everybody gets the same instruction, no matter what. Naturally, the second pair was better right off the bat. I’m going to take credit for making all the mistakes up front, so they could see what NOT to do when they started throwing.
From there, we played an actual game. A game consists of 3 rounds of 5 throws, trading targets with your opponent after each round. Rings are worth 1, 3, or 5 points, and whomever wins 2 out of 3 rounds wins the game. There is a “Hail Mary” option called the Clutch which is smaller than the bullseye and requires more accuracy but is worth more points. None of us felt confident enough to try for that. But we did have a wonderful time with trash talk and celebrations when we nailed a great shot.
A Blade For All Seasons
Those celebrations were not as rare as you might think, either! Each of us had several throws where we absolutely nailed it and felt a rush of pride. The feeling never got old. I could have easily thrown for another hour, working on my form and aim. You do work your arm muscles, but not so much that you tire quickly. If you want to mix things up, you can try learning the single-hand throw (we started with a two-hand grip). After that, there’s even another level, learning the “big axe.” This is a larger firefighter-style axe that requires a two hand grip and more distance from the target. When that is thrown, nobody can stand at the target next to you. It looked really cool when I saw it, and I’m hoping to try it next time I’m there.
Axe throwing can be whatever you want it to be. You can be competitive and join the league, which runs 5 seasons per year. The next one starts January 13-15th. You can go for a spontaneous date night or with friends during their public walk-in sessions. No reservation is needed, and you can go every day of the week, sharing lanes with other walk-ins. Or you can book a private session for a group. Your reservation gets you time before the public is allowed, plus private lanes and coaching. Closed-toe shoes are required for all participation.
Better Living Through Hatchets
Although only open since fall of 2018, LA AX is gaining popularity quickly. At least two separate friends had already been there before my visit in December. With a first-class facility and instructors, LA AX is a great introduction to a new sport that’s fun and accessible for everyone. As much as we review things like Virtual Reality and Escape Rooms, we’ve always been a proponent of physically engaging activities too. Axe throwing fits in nicely with Dojo Boom, Rage Ground, and Spartan Races as ways to get moving and try something new. The New Year is a perfect time for it. You don’t need a whole New You; you just need a new hobby!
LA AX is located at 7308 Coldwater Canyon Ave. in North Hollywood, CA, 91605. They are open 7 days a week, and times vary depending if you have a reservation or are dropping in. Rules, league signups, online reservations, and more, are available at their website, www.la-ax.com.