Killing time with an ax: Canadian pastime comes to the District

WASHINGTON — Canadian manners belie a rugged side.

Like Jackie Chan or Yoda, Canadians come across as nice and chill, but they are capable of truly righteous action movie stuff.

Case in point: friendly competitive pastimes.

While Americans are content to toss beanbags or roll bocce balls, our north-of-the-border brothers are throwing … axes.

And they’re about to let D.C. in on the fun.

Bad Axe Throwing, an Ontario-based chain, opens its 16th location at 2419 Evarts St. NE on Friday. It will offer groups an uncommon way to kill two or three hours. Individual league play is also in the works.

It’s the taboo of ax throwing that makes it so appealing, said Nick Jahr, operations manager.

“It’s so strange and everyone wants to try it,” he said. “And then once everyone tries it, I’ve never had a customer leave that just doesn’t enjoy it.”

On paper, there’s not much to ax throwing. You hurl the blade at a target that’s 12–15 feet away (depending on where the thrower wants to stand). Use two hands or one. A coach is on hand to show you the technique, which is pretty simple:

  • Put one foot in front of the other in a comfortable stance.
  • Bring the ax all the way over your head.
  • As you bring it forward, just let go when your arm(s) and the ax are at a 90-degree angle in front of you.

Once the muscle memory kicks in, it gets a little easier. Just be prepared to embarrass yourself a few times. Too often, it can miss the target altogether.

And before you ask, the answer is no: Alcohol is not allowed on the premises. Food, however, is quite OK.

So is, um, “decorating” the target, Jahr said. Several customers bring in pictures of ex-wives, ex-husbands, disliked politicians or merchandise from sports rivals.

“It’s just so therapeutic … throwing sharp objects at hunks of lumber,” Jahr said.

Bad Axe Throwing is available for group events at a cost of around $40 per person. You can book online. For information about walk-in availability (and an open house Friday), check out its Facebook page.

Flannel is optional.

Use two hands or one. Just be prepared to embarrass yourself a few times. (WTOP/Ginger Whitaker)

Bad Axe Throwing, an Ontario-based chain, opens its 16th location at 2419 Evarts St. NE on Friday. (WTOP/Jack Pointer)

WTOP’s own Rob Woodfork prepares to let fly. (WTOP/Jack Pointer)

“It’s just so therapeutic,” said Nick Jahr, operations manager. (WTOP/Ginger Whitaker)

Missed it by that much. (WTOP/Jack Pointer)

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