Toronto’s backyard axe-throwing league

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The Backyard Axe Throwing League started the way all great ideas do: alcohol and lethargy. A few guys that got a little too sauced in the woods, and serendipitously invented a sport by throwing axes at trees and then making up a point system and bunch of rules. Four years old now, the league has boasted hundreds of members, astonishingly no injuries, and free kegs every week. Take that, Curling!

There’s a certain Fight Club element to the league. Currently, it’s only known by word of mouth and remains confined to a punk, nu-metal, hipster crowd that are all in some way, friends of friends. I was invited to a playoff game by my friend Craig, and because I’m a nerd I felt all top-secret about it as I stealthily followed the directions to the backyard behind the Big Chill off College St in Toronto’s West end. Whoops did I just give it away? Anyway, I knew I’d arrived when the smell of rainbow ice cream was replaced with the stench of weed and man-odor.

I received a typically Canadian greeting from virtually every axe thrower there who, despite their foul mouths, were all perfectly gracious and polite. And as if slinging axes weren’t primal enough, they even chanted their own oath that goes a little something like, “Remember primal man/who only had his hands/ who forged in fire and steel/the tools to kill his meal/we honor him this day/and pray our axe to stay”. Then we sacrificed a test-tube of gism to Crom.

Coordinated by the inventor himself, Matt Wilson cautioned everyone to keep their backs to the wall and not to “fuckin’ get outta line.” The game went late into the evening, and I caught up with a few of the axe throwers to talk about being such a man.