I have a new favourite way of relieving stress – axe throwing! Seriously, chucking hatchets is just the best way to vent your anger, frustration, anxiety and tension, plus its great fun to boot!
Wandering towards an old industrial area in Vauxhall, London, I had no idea what to expect from Whistle Punks – an urban axe throwing club that’s currently all the rage. Following a crowd of what we hoped were fellow axe throwers down a slightly dodgy looking side street (I’m such a country bumpkin these days!), we came to the spot Google Maps said we’d find the club, and were confronted with a row of unassuming arches that looked like warehouses. Shrugging our shoulders we joined the queue and headed inside, where a whole different world awaited.
The space itself might be small, but once through the doors you’re confronted by a barrage of sound: loud music, laughter and shouts, and, of course, axes being pelted full force into wooden boards.
An eclectic bunch of axe throwers
Once signed in we milled around, bought ourselves some drinks and checked out the strange mix of people that were drawn to the idea of a bit of axe throwing. Large groups of smartly dressed friends in their 50s stood next to hipster 20 somethings, who in turn mingled with young couples on dates and small groups like my friend Ania and I, who’d come for a bit of a chuckle on a London day out. It was an eclectic bunch, I have to say.
Thrown together by our shared interest in sharp weapons (eek!), we spent the next hour and a half together taking part in an axe throwing tournament. Sadly the time goes way too quickly, and in a large group you only really get a few chances to actually practice your axe chucking, which isn’t really long enough to master the technique.
One that’s actually exceptionally hard to get to grips with I’ll have you know, and uses a surprising set of muscles.
A Whistle Punks team member runs you through how to hold and throw the axe, first with one hand and then two-handed style. They then give you a chance to practice, offering some advice on your stance and technique before the tournament proper begins.
You don’t have to be any good to have fun!
Things I learnt in that time: my elbow can go much higher than I thought and I’m awful at throwing one handed. I then discovered that two-handed axe throwing uses leg muscles I’d forgotten I had (I was walking like John Wayne the next day), and I’m also rather rubbish at that as well.
But, despite my complete lack of hand-eye co-orientation and throwing ability I had an absolute blast of a time and didn’t want it to end. That’s high praise indeed, as during my entire visit I only ever managed to hit a wooden board once (and even then that wasn’t the target, but the chunk of wood below it!). It seems my strength lies in the trick throw, probably most likely because when throwing two axes rather than one you double your chance of success!
I’ll be back (a la Arnie!)
I loved my hilariously bad axe throwing experience and I’ll definitely be back. You see, I’m sure hidden inside this uncoordinated couch potato lies an axe throwing master bursting to be set free. My goal – to make it onto the wall of fame, which means achieving a minimum score of 50 points. Then it’ll be onto the big leagues, with a chance of bagging a Whistle Punks pro t-shirt.
To be fair I think I’ll need a lot of practice, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing sport and I just hope Whistle Punks will open a club nearer to me – Bath or Bristol would be perfect guys, just in case you’re reading!
First timers are also rewarded with 10% discount towards a return visit, so I’ll be back for a rematch as soon as I’m in London next. Who wants to join me?!
Whistle Punks can currently be found in London, Manchester and Birmingham. London prices are £29 per person peak times (Thurs-Sat) and £22 off peak. Find out more at whistlepunks.com.
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We were guests of Whistle Punks for this experience, but as ever, all views are my own!