Ah, axe throwing: the cornhole of the Great White North. The rugged pastime has officially arrived in the southern parts of the Rocky Mountains, thanks to Canadian company Bad Axe Throwing—a venue where you can learn to appropriately hurl the sharp tool and compete against friends to determine who is most likely to survive in the wilderness (kidding, of course).
The new Denver outpost opened last week as the company’s 14th North American location, according to managing director Jesse Gutzman. Situated on the border of Denver and Thornton, Bad Axe Throwing is located in a 2,500-square-foot, industrial space that consists of a lounge area with tables and chairs, and three lanes—for throwing—with two targets made of plywood affixed to the wall. According to axe master Nick Jahr, each of Bad Axe Throwing’s locations features unique art by local creatives. Here, visitors will see a mural that reads, “lookin’ sharp” by a local artist Taste.
Before you start, a resident “axe master” takes you through a 10-minute safety tutorial, laying the ground rules and teaching you proper technique. Rule number one: Wear closed-toe shoes (you won’t be able to participate without them). Keep the axe perpendicular to the ground when you release it from your hands. Don’t pick up your axe until your opponent has thrown theirs. Lastly, it is common courtesy to clink your axe with your opponent before and after a match.
While throwing the axe has a bit of a learning curve, most manage to sink it into the target after a few attempts (Tip: The bigger axes are easier to throw). Once you’re feeling comfortable, the axe master will set up a tournament for your party. Most games are variations on the rules used for the World Axe Throwing League—a bracket-style competition where people compete head-to-head until one champion stands. For each match, players get 10 throws to rack up points on the circular target. The closer you get to the center of the target, the higher the score. After five throws, the players switch sides, and whoever gets the most points moves on to the next round.
While slinging heavy, bladed projectiles would make for an unconventional first date, Bad Axe Throwing caters toward groups and requires a party of eight or more to make a reservation (walk-ins for smaller parties are welcome, but space is limited). Patrons are welcome to bring snacks, refreshments, or catered food, but no booze yet. (They’re working on acquiring a liquor license.) If you discover that you are particularly apt at this activity, consider joining their axe-throwing league, which hosts tournaments throughout the year.
Our takeaway? Axe throwing is easier than one might think and incredibly addicting. Even though it may seem dangerous, the staffers do a stellar job assuaging any fears one might have; to date, there have been no accidents at any of their locations. So, throw on some flannel, ya’ll—we predict that the rustic activity has enough appeal to delight city-dwellers and wannabe lumberjacks alike.
If you go: Bad Ax Throwing is located at 845 E. 73rd Ave.; $35 per person for a three-hour session; $30 per person for groups of 35 or more; $20 per hour for walk-ins; reservations can be made online