When I walked in the door of Bullseye Axe Throwing with my husband and a group of five friends, we were greeted by a welcoming, booming voice – the perfect pitch for calling out “bullseye!” loud enough for those on the other side of the parking lot to hear. Wearing an authentic red beard, and a sought-after Bullseye Axe Throwing t-shirt (more on that later), there stood Coach Brian with an axe casually slung over his shoulder. “Are you ready?” He asked us. We were.
Founded by Jonathan Polakow in December, 2014, the Bullseye Axe Throwing location in Newmarket was ahead of its time. The sport recently gained significant traction, providing the space for a social outing with a competitive edge, making it a unique option for birthday parties, team-building activities and family bonding. “There’s no age requirement, there’s no predictor of who’s going to be good and who’s going to be great. What makes it fun is anyone can do well, and anyone can win,” says Polakow. “We’ve had everyone from 13-year-olds to 80-year-olds win their tournament or event.”
No matter what level of athleticism or experience you bring, everyone arrives with the same purpose: to have fun throwing axes. The way it works is similar to the sport of darts; you stand in your lane behind a small block, and hurl your axe at the wooden target. It’s more about finesse than athleticism, and every tournament begins with a thorough practice run featuring one-on-one instructions from your assigned coach.
Once you get the hang of it, a tournament is formed, where you can track points and eliminate your friends in efforts to be the last one standing (not literally, of course). The winner becomes the new owner of the glorious Bullseye Axe Throwing t-shirt, which is not just a souvenir, but the unofficial attire of axe-throwing champions.
It’s not just about winning, though (writes the competitive softball player who was the first to be eliminated from her bracket). “It’s exciting, because there’s a challenge; it’s you against these other people. But it’s you against yourself, first and foremost,” Polakow says. “It’s a big mental game, that’s the fun of it.”
Perfecting your aim takes time and technique. You can choose to throw one-handed or two, step into it or stand with feet firmly planted. You begin by tilting the axe at just the right angle above your head, and it’s all about the release. “Like the game of golf, it eats you alive, but then you make the perfect shot—the perfect throw—and it’s right in the bullseye. And you hear the coach yell ‘bullseye!’ and everyone goes wild. That’s when you realize, ‘I’m good at this, I can win here tonight.’”
Pre-scheduled sessions with a minimum of six participants take approximately 2.5 hours to complete, for a fee of $45 dollars per person. Never thrown an axe in your life? Never even considered picking one up? No worries. Experienced coaches are on hand to help you heave your supplied weapon effectively and, most importantly, safely. Everyone can improve after just a few attempts.
Remember to dress casually and comfortably (you could even don your best plaid if you’d like), and if you’re still unsure, feel free to watch and cheer on your axe-wielding mates until you’re ready to hurl one yourself. Even if you completely miss the target at first (guilty), the moment you hear the sound of axe sticking to wood, you can’t wait to throw it again. By the end of the night, as you walk out the door boasting an impressive tally of bullseyes under your belt, you can’t help feeling a little “badaxe” yourself.
Bullseye Axe Throwing
Written by Charlotte Ottaway