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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Don’t try this at home

A beginner’s guide to axe throwing.


I clasped my left hand over my right and arched backward, letting the metal of the axe touch between my shoulder blades. With knees bent, I took a step forward, launching the axe. In a solid thunk, my axe struck the second ring of the bullseye painted on the wood.

“Three points for Brenna, and Brenna takes the match – seven to one,” announced Alan Cho, my Axepert instructor.

Picture a warehouse in North Philly echoing with the sound of cheers, clinks and thunks. There I was standing in front of  Urban Axes, excited to try axe throwing for myself as part of their walk-in hours because who doesn’t want to throw an axe?

Waiting in line at the warehouse entrance beside people holding cases of beer under their arms, I anticipated signing the safety waiver. To be honest, I didn’t read it, so I don’t know what I agreed to. What could go wrong with a bunch of axes and people with beer?

I was one of the many walk-ins that arrived hoping to snag a spot in one of the two throwing lanes reserved for walk-ins. The other lanes were reserved for either league play or reserved group sessions.

I was there on a Sunday afternoon, one of their more popular times, and quickly was assigned to a group of other prospective axe throwers, who had apparently pre-gamed prior to arriving.

Our instructor for the hour, Alan Cho, was new to the axe throwing scene himself. Cho had first tried axe throwing  in September and was smitten with the sport. After joining league, he applied for a job and was hired in February 2017.

“I love it,” Cho said. “The crew is great and is a whole knit family. I work a regular 9 to 5 job and work here during the weekend. It’s great.”

Urban Axes is the only complex that offers axe throwing with  both casual and league options in Pennsylvania, and was the first complex in the United States.

Urban Axe’s league offering is for dedicated axe throwers of varying skill levels to compete and have a beer, as it is BYOB, or “bring your own beer.”

I showed up sober with no intention of drinking at all. I wanted to get the most  out of this experience, but even buzzed, the others in my group were just as excited.

“It’s Sunday, you got nothing to worry about, you’re throwing axes at a bullseye,” said Sheri Levin, one of the people in my walk-in group. “You get to take the frustration out from the week prior on an object and not hurt anybody in the process. It’s therapeutic.”

Levin made it look so easy. With heightened confidence, I stepped beyond the yellow line and into the lane. I dislodged the axe from its wooden stump and assumed the position.

The brief minutes of instruction Cho had given us at the beginning of the session channeled through my head: blade to back, knees bent, hand over hand and release at eye level. I took a deep breath and stepped into my throw.

My axe crashed into the back wall above the targets. I hung my head as I retrieved my axe and prepared to throw again.

I ended up losing my first match five to 12 against Michael Kleinman, another walk-in placed in our group.

“No, I’ve never been axe throwing,” Kleinman said when I asked him how long he’d been coming. “I guess I have a hidden talent for it.”

When it was my turn in a later match, I still felt defeated from my previous match and slumped on the wooden railing. Everyone in my group encouraged me to keep my head up. Cho explained it was simply the point in rotation that kept my axe from hitting the wood, rather than my  form.

My group chanted my name as I clinked axes with my next opponent. I took a deep breath and stood further back as Cho instructed. The goal was to alter the rotation of my axe.

I focused on the bullseye and stepped into my throw. My arms swung behind me.


My axe was lodged in the second ring of the bullseye, scoring me three points. Everyone around me cheered.

With a smile plastered across my face, I walked up to retrieve my axe. I pulled with all my might, but the blade was stuck deep in the wood. My group cheered louder upon discovery of my exceptional throw.

It may have taken me awhile to get the feel of axe throwing, but once I finally got it, it felt amazing.

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