As anyone born in the winter months can tell you, the cold and snowy months can put a real damper on your celebration. While it might be a great season for hibernating, getting a group of your best friends together for a good time can take some wrangling as everyone tries to shake off the blues. If you’ve been getting cabin fever staying cooped up at home whenever possible, a winter birthday might be a good time to take an axe to everyone’s seasonal mood. Yes, literally, with a party at an axe throwing league, where everyone can loosen up and work on their target practice. The sport has been booming in Toronto as a popular urban pastime with venues across the city, meaning you won’t have to drive miles out of town.
Stepping onto the axe throwing pitch is like stepping into the woods and playing the games that kept coureurs de bois and Canada’s first pioneers competitive and entertained. There probably wasn’t much time for baccarat on the voyage up the Great Lakes, but games like hatchet throwing were ways to have fun and keep survival skills honed. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve got an inner voyageur to let out, it’s a sport that can thrill the woodsman in anybody. Leagues based in Toronto tend to have large warehouse facilities where they hold tournaments, birthdays and corporate events, so don’t be discouraged by the weather or the temperature. Just because you’re eager to reconnect with the recreation of the past doesn’t mean everyone you invite will be excited to spend 3 hours in the snow, so you may want to rethink hosting in your own backyard—not to mention what you could do to your fence.
Dodge the clean-up and the hassle of inviting people over or picking a restaurant that all of your friends will enjoy, whether they’re carnivores and vegans, and do something different when you tack another year onto your age. Axe throwing is a unique and entirely Instagram-worthy experience, but even if you prefer to keep the cameras off you’ve signed up for a wicked competition.
For centuries the sport was practiced out in the woods and up in the mountains by tree-cutters and showmen, but since the mid-2000s it’s taken off in the city. One of Toronto’s first leagues, BATL (Backyard Axe Throwing League), started as an informal tournament between friends before growing into nine Canada-wide venues including three in the city of Toronto. With locations on Sterling, Villiers, and Bridgeland near Yorkdale Mall, it’s convenient to all ends of the city.
Groups are given detailed instructions and an hour of practice before a round-robin tournament and knock-out competition. At BATL, there’s a monitor for every two participants on the pitch and their coaches will teach you how to throw an axe safely and accurately. They’re there to make sure everyone has a good time and everyone learns proper technique. It’s a sport almost everyone can play as they have dedicated themselves to making it as accessible as possible. Axe throwing is a stellar outing for big groups and it’s one of the more original birthday party ideas for adults out there right now. Don’t be afraid; cut straight through the winter blues and your celebration will be a smash hit.