BY MARISSA CUDDY
Axe throwing makes it possible to relive your action film dreams.
The Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) started in 2006 in a backyard in Toronto. It began as a private league, but eventually expanded, and moved inside in 2011, starting their first public indoor leagues. A few years after that they expanded to a second location and now have eight locations across Canada, seven in Ontario and one in Alberta.
Nick LaFace, the general manager at BATL in Kitchener, said people can book a time with them or go to one of their walk-in sessions, which are Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. or Sundays from 1 to 8 p.m. They can also book a private event.
“Whenever people come to battle there are always coaches there monitoring safety, explaining how to throw and making sure everything is done correctly,” LaFace said. “(A coach) is never not with you.”
They have other safety precautions as well. They don’t allow any horseplay and they have lines painted on the floor to indicate where you need to stand. They also have heavy, nine- gauge chain link fencing up to serve as protection in the throwing lanes.
For the walk-in service, it’s $20 per person for roughly an hour of throwing time, which can change depending on how many other people are there.
Private events have a $40 per person, 12 person minimum, standard charge. The company hosts larger and smaller groups with the smallest being six and largest being 35. The cost per person still remains the same but the bookings have to be done specifically through the venue.
Playing in the league for the season costs $135 after tax.
Jay Hodgson, a coach at BATL in Kitchener, said the customers are way more diverse than people may think.
“There’s a misconception that it’s only meant for the “tattooed lumberjack” type, but I coach doctors, teachers and software developers,” she said. “We’re getting more and more girls involved too, despite people thinking it’s male dominated. Women do very well here and we’re always glad to see more and more come through each month.”
The leagues have five seasons a year. Each season lasts seven weeks of regulation play where all the statistics are tracked online including how many games are played, the number of losses and average points.
“We like to get a little baseball with it,” LaFace said.
After each season there is a week of playoffs, where the winner gets to hold the trophy and his or her name gets written on a champion’s scroll that is up in the arena. Each location has their own league. LaFace said they have approximately 1,000 league members. He also said every year they have what is called a champions league, where the top four throwers from each league compete in a tournament.
“The thing with us is we hold private events and do the walk-in stuff, but our league is the real deal,” LaFace said. “We have a rule here – be good to each other or get out. We like everyone to treat each other equally and we’re huge on having a positive community environment that we try to bring everywhere we go.”
He said league members start off not knowing each other at all and slowly become good friends. Everyone’s tight and everyone knows each other and everyone respects each other.
“We like to have a positive effect on the community as well as foster a really positive community within our space to promote a safe, fun, open environment where everyone is welcome,” LaFace said.
Hodgson said her favourite thing about BATL is the culture. She said people you meet become like family. “I’ve played and coached a lot of sports in my life, but I’ve never thrived in a competitive environment as much as I do at BATL,” Hodgson said. “Honestly, even though I always want to win my games or league, I’m still rooting for my opponents. When anyone does well it pushes the bar for the rest of us and makes for tougher competitions and a higher standard of throwing.”
She said their culture sets the bar for axe throwing everywhere.
“My favourite part is, honestly, the people you get to meet. Don’t get me wrong, I like throwing an axe, but the friendships I’ve made over the years doing this and just the positive experience that comes from this is definitely the best part of what we offer,” LaFace said.
For more information on BATL visit www.batlgrounds.com.
“You can also see a ton of videos and photos online. We post frequently on Instagram and Facebook,” Hodgson said.