Calgary’s axe throwing league gaining popularity

WATCH ABOVE: Amber Schinkel tries her hand at a sport gaining popularity in Calgary – axe throwing. 

CALGARY – Once associated solely with lumberjacks, warriors and Vikings, axe throwing has become mainstream. So much so, that Calgary is now home to an axe throwing league.

BATL, which stands for Backyard Axe Throwing League, started in 2006 in CEO Matt Wilson’s Toronto area backyard. The first indoor facility opened in 2011.

“I learned how to throw an axe at a cottage,” says Wilson. “And it resonated with me.”

BATL has since expanded to five locations in Ontario and now, one in Calgary’s northeast.

Axe throwing is a social activity, but it’s also competitive and there’s a strong mental component. The goal of course is to hit a bullseye, but according to Wilson, “if you don’t hit a bullseye on that throw, you got to shake it off and just try to get that next bullseye.”

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Each match is composed of three games and in each game you are allowed five throws. The targets have a blue ring on the outside, a red ring in the middle, and a black ring on the inside, which is the bullseye. If you hit within the blue ring you score one point while a shot in the red is three points and hitting bullseye will get you five points. Plus, there’s a wildcard shot of sorts.

“On the fifth throw of every game is the opportunity to go for the little green dot in the top corner which is called ‘the clutch,'” explains BATL Calgary GM Cameron Sutherland. “You have to call it like in pool, and it’s an all or nothing shot.”

Besides an axe and closed toe shoes, no other equipment is needed. Safety is paramount, so there is a supervisor for each arena – and players throw and retrieve their axes at the same time.

BATL supplies axes for recreational players, but league players often have at least one of their own axes and they treasure it.

“You are not allowed to throw someone else’s axe. It is a very personal thing,” says Wilson.

For the rest of the month BATL Calgary is offering free axe throwing Sunday to Wednesday evenings before officially opening in August. It has started reserving spots for league nights, which are expected to start up next month.

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Bullseye! Amber Schinkel tries her hand at axe throwing at BATL in Calgary. Global News

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