That was the question I was asked today after posting a comment on a Facebook page for a new axe house getting ready to open in Waco TX, the Waco Axe Co. As I sat pondering my answer, it quickly became too long to post as a reply on Facebook. My first response was the people. Each axe house is very different and takes on its own personality that matches the diversity of the people in the community.
We’ve travelled to five states and thrown at eight different houses and I can safely say that seven of the eight houses reflected the personality of those who opened them. They are owned by people with a true love of the sport and every house is different. Got Wood in Oklahoma is full of bright colors. The walls are covered with peoples names, sayings, stickers and decor that’s really interesting and inviting. Angry Axe is a clean comfortable environment with comfy couches and tables to hang out at. Generation Axe in New York was full of hand made wood furniture with a little bit of viking influence! The staff and owners were what made that such a fun night. We even learned new games we hadn’t come across in any other axe house.
The Diversity of an Axe House
The community is so diverse and welcoming. There is no race, no age, no sexual orientation, no religion or size. Throwers are fat, thin, tall, short, gay, straight, preppy, eccentric, dads, mums (yep I’m a Brit), dog lovers, parents, grandparents, salaried, hourly, kilt wearers (hopefully with underwear on but I haven’t checked) and anything else you can think of! Maybe the thought of throwing axes to a newbie can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. There are more kids participating in leagues than ever before. Most houses allow kids 13 and up and some even as young as 8.
For the regulars who make up the axe throwing community, it is about much more than throwing steel at wood. The art in axe throwing is also unbelievable. The choice of axe becomes a very personal thing. There are Axe Gangs, Prandis, Estwings, Cold Steels, WATLs own line and many more. The regulars don’t just stop there, they customize the handles and change the profiles on the axe heads to thin them out.
Artists will engrave custom designs on their heads or handles and some make custom sheaths. Then there are the many axe throwing styles. There is the guy who throws it at, what looks like, 100mph, there’s the two handed throwers (like me), the bouncers, the steppers, the ballet throwers and the flickers who make it look like it takes no effort at all. It’s whatever feels right to the thrower and works for them.
For those who are not following the groups in the community, you miss out. On all the wit, charm and camaraderie of those that participate. If you haven’t seen Steve Malvey (NJ) do his humorous commentary on a game, it’s well worth a watch. Or met Roze (TX) and her pink and purple hair buns. Or Sam (NC) in his sloth hat, or Eric (CO) the hugger, or Ella (IA) the 8 year old star who got to play a match against the eventual US Open tournament winner, Mike Kump (PA). All of this may seem a little intimidating and expensive but axe throwing isn’t expensive compared to a golf or tennis habit.
We all know that we can’t take material things with us when we go. Travelling, creating lifelong memories and friends can be a great expense if you choose to travel around to tournaments. Prize money can range from a few hundred to thousands if you win or place near the top.
More and more articles are popping up all the time about spending money on experiences is the key to happiness. In a 2016 Forbes article it was said: “people who have more frequent social interactions live longer, healthier lives and experience less stress, depression and feelings of isolation… Little bits of happiness add up and when spread out, last a lot longer.” So if you haven’t given axe throwing a try, GO. Come and see why we love this community. Who knows maybe you’ll want to spread out your happiness and join a league. WATL has just released the 2020 dates!
I am not affiliated with WATL and I am not pushing them over anything else, it’s just all I know. However, I am a little bit biased when it comes to axe throwing. I met the love of my life, Brandon, online and our first date was axe throwing. Our six month anniversary was axe throwing at Tommy Hawks Axe House, in Springfield, MO and we didn’t even realize it until we were telling Tom, one of the owners.
18 months later and Brandon has thrown three seasons and we have travelled to the US Open in Iowa, AngryWood in Oklahoma and will be going to Worlds in Arizona in December. We even have a regulation practice target in the garage that my mother has used!! I love to throw, have two of my own axes and have been known to hit a bullseye every now and then, but I don’t compete. I go to support others in the house that do.
Contributor: Alison Fawthorp
Editor: Blake Bottrill