Updated: Aug 14, 2018
Have you ever seen Jason Momoa throwing an axe? Have you ever wished to try it out yourself? Well, I certainly did.
The history of Axe Throwing is fascinating: one of the first tools made by men, thrown axes like the "francisca" (national weapon for the Franks) were very common in the Middle Ages.
Whether the thrown axe was used in battles or during hunt games, the tradition of throwing competition could be found both in Northern America and amongst the Celtic Tribes.
I experienced this very particular sport last Friday, I was there to celebrate my sister's birthday, and we wanted to experience something new. We were not disappointed! Let me say this, it was really amazing. As I was aiming with the axe in my hands, I had the feeling of being a Viking... Since we were a ton of people, beside me and my four friends, the sensation was both competitive and cheerful. Everyone clapped and cheered when the target was hit. It's more difficult than what you'd think, but the more you try, the more you figure out how to do it. So, here's my experience as Viking-apprentice!
Axes and targets
I went to #Whistlepunks in London, at Vauxhall. It's ten minutes away from the tube station, it took a while to get there because of the construction site which surround it in this period, it was a bit tricky, but eventually we found it. You'd better book in advance, because they have scheduled times. For you guys who are wondering whether it is dangerous or not, I'll say that it's totally safe: there are four axe-throwing lanes, each pair divided by iron-fences (since we were the last group of Friday night, only two lanes were used). No more than tow people per lane can throw at the same time, there's a safety-line you are not allowed to cross before the coach tells you to, and obviously every lane is supervised by a coach. Before starting, at Whistlepunks, they provide a safety briefing, then a useful training on the most common throwing techniques: one-hand throwing and two-hands throwing. I personally decided to stick with the latter, because it gave me a feeling of being steadier (not having much muscles in my arms, haha). The staff is really nice and encouraging, the coaches helped us understand how to throw properly, and even if I did not even stuck my axe in the target then, I succeeded in scoring the first bull's eye of the competition later. I know, half of it was beginner's luck - but the other half of me actually nailed it!
The coaches are competent and veeeeery patient, but, above all, they make you feel at ease, smiling all the time and giving you advice to improve, maybe telling you to step forward of backward before you throw, depending on your stance and strength.
As a #sport, it kind of helps you to be more aware of your own body, the way you have to keep the axe steady, the way you have to lean forward as you throw... It's more than mere strength, really, even if strength is something you can't totally lack of.
The targets we used were made of wood, and looked similar the targets used in Archery or darts competition. The difference lies in the number of rings, two for Axe Throwing, plus two spots in the high corners of the mark - each one worth seven points. The spot in the centre (Bull's eye) counts five points, the middle ring three points, and the outer and larger ring one point. To be sure you actually scored the points, you have to see if the silver part of the blade is stuck in the spot, not the black part.
So, after about ten throws each for the training session, the coaches divided us in two groups (a group per lane) and started the tournament! They wrote down the points each one of us scored on the blackboards, for everyone to see. The tournament was divided in three rounds, and for every round we had a one-versus-one competition with five throws each. To make the game more exciting, the coaches mixed the couples every round, so we could challenge different people every time. At the end of the three rounds, the best for challenged amongst them in the semi-finals, and then the finals. I didn't make it into the semi-finals, but my sister's boyfriend ended up first in our group, and second in both groups.
Before going home, as last treat the coaches taught us to throw two axes at the same time - it was obviously more difficult than ever, but it was exciting and funny nevertheless.
Definitely worth a second visit! Thank you Gavin and Ben for your patience and your assistance!