Axe-throwing and letting off steam

By John Linderman

Elm Staff Writer

A growing sport across hipster enclaves throughout North America is axe-throwing, which grew in popularity since the founding of the Backyard Axe Throwing League in 2006.

While axe-throwing has been around for more than a millennium, this form of warfare has now been condensed for fun with the whole family. For residents of Chestertown, there is a whole venue dedicated to axe-throwing in Middletown called Stumpy’s. How exactly did axe-throwing grow in popularity? What is it? And is it any fun?

            We’ve been throwing axes since our days in bands of hunter-gatherers. When not used for chopping wood, axes have been used extensively by peoples and nations across the world for close-combat warfare. Examples of this include the Tomahawk from the Mohawk nation, and the Nzappa zap of the Congolese people. Tomahawks in particular have their own form of competitive sport, and carbon-steel versions of them are still used by special forces across the world.

            “Axe throwing taps into widespread nostalgia for the era of the lumberjack, a figure deeply embedded in the (Canadian) national consciousness,” according to Tonya Davidson in an article by The Atlantic. Davidson is a Carleton University sociologist associated with the Canadian axe-throwing league.

Axe-throwing as an organized sport started in Canada in 2006. There are now two leagues representing the sport, the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) and the World Axe Throwing League (WATL). Points are based on how close to the center of a target you hit, as well as form and other various technicalities. In total, IATF has drawn over 150,000 participants and viewers since its inception.

If you aren’t a professional axe-thrower, however, you may be glad to hear that axe-throwing joints are popping up all across North America. Admission tickets typically cost anywhere from $25 to $30. They typically serve also as restaurants and bars for patrons. Stumpy’s Hatchet House in Middletown, DE is a 30-minute drive from Chestertown — it’s $25 per person for a group of four for an hour. Only those 21 and over can enter, though, and even if you don’t drink, you must pay a $15 entry fee.

“I would absolutely recommend Stumpy’s, it has a young atmosphere, axe-throwing is a lot of fun, and it’s also a great way to let off some steam from a rough week,” said  Stumpy’s patron and senior William Lesoravage.

Is letting off steam a valid solution to your problems, though? Very much so.

“Feeling hot under the collar? Need to let it out? Then do, say anger management counsellors,” Shane Hegarty from The Irish Times said. “You can throw a tantrum. If it’s not hurting anybody it’s OK. It’s about learning that it’s OK to express anger and that it doesn’t always have to be in an abusive or negative way.”

Now, you don’t have to be fuming to have permission to throw an axe — but consider the bigger picture: consider taking out negative and pent-up energy with expressive activities like exercise, dancing, or axe-throwing. Let out your inner warrior and give the axe a swing.

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