how many of you have thrown an ax? how many of you have been trained in how to throw an ax? how many of you have entered an ax throwing competition?
prior to today i had never done any of the above. yes, i have used an ax to chop trees and split wood, but not extensively by any means. but, no, i have never thought of throwing axes as a sport with some skill involved.
i must admit that i find it very difficult to resist trying something new, experiencing something that is unusual or different. i guess my naturally inquisitive being takes over, fueled by the challenge that it represents, and then adding onto that is the competitive factor that is somehow appealing. put all that together and you have a man willing to throw axes!
it turns out that in Branson Missouri there is an ax throwing facility. they have lanes similar to much shortened bowling alley lanes where you have your own ax and you throw toward a bulls eye board made of wood that is some 12 feet away. you can purchase a half hour or an hour of ax throwing just like you would purchase a bucket of golf balls to hit on the range.
but first, the paperwork. you can imagine the liability issues involved here. so they ask you to sign away yourself but signing and/or initializing 5 or 6 documents that includes a code of conduct you agree to abide by, a release of liability, and other documents that i can’t even remember what they do or don’t do. in doing all this paperwork i get to know Brad pretty well. Brad is the only employee of the ax throwing facility that is on duty when i show up.
then the next step is the lesson. it turns out there is a technique to be learned on how to throw an ax for maximum effect and accuracy.
then there is the competition. i ask Brad if people, once they learn the technique, just stand here and throw axes for 30 or 60 minutes, or what do they do with the rest of the 30 or 60 minutes they have purchased. Brad tells me that they compete with each other. the play ax games.
since i came alone, Brad asks if i want to challenge him to an ax throwing contest. i say sure.
Brad later informs me that he has been throwing axes for 18 years. by this time i have thrown axes for 6 minutes!
So i enter my first ax throwing competition. we have 10 throws involved. each throw is aimed at a bulls eye within a set of concentric circles with different points for each circle. the closer you get to the center of the circle the more points you win. 6 points for a bulls eye.
the scores for each contestant are recorded on the whiteboard after each throw. after four throws each person has the choice to go after the a special dark spot on the upper edge of the target. if he gets the ax to stick and touch the small dark circle, then he is awarded 8 points. but, if he misses the small remote target, he gets nothing. the other option is to throw at the main target and record whatever points one gets. so, it is risk reward.
after four rounds of ax throwing, Brad has me where he wants me. he is leading 28 to 16. so, he asks if i want to go after the small black dot for a possible 8 points, but if i miss it i get no points. since i am behind, i say i will go for it.
Brad says that he will go after it too. we both get ready, we both aim, we both let our axes fly. Brad sticks his. right in the small remote black spot. holy cow. yours truly misses the spot and ends up with no points, but Brad adds 8 points to his total.
i am now down 36 to 16 with just 5 rounds of ax throws left. i am in trouble. i need to up my game, and i need Brad to have a meltdown. unfortunately, neither one of these two possibilities happen. Brad does not miss. his lowest score is a 4, just missing the bulls eye which would have been 6 points.
yours truly loses his edge. three of my next four ax throws hit the target board but do not stick and fall to the floor. no points at all. so, after 9 throws, the score is Brad with 46 points and Neil with 20 points. i am getting beat and beat badly.
one throw left, the tenth and final one. we both have the opportunity to go after the little black dot in the corner of the wooden target. 8 potential points, but no points if i miss. my last chance. but it was not to be. the only good news is that Brad missed it too.
final score. Brad 46. Neil 20. my first ax throwing contest.