Axing for a Friend!


Spiritual tranquility, serene mind, and peaceful outlook are healthy mental attitudes best developed by throwing deadly sharp axes – a sort of ancient Pilates introduced to Europe and Asia by the invading Mongol hordes.

To calm my excitable emotional mindset, which routinely toggles between anger, resentment, and Wordle, I thought I’d have a go at axes.

But what is axe throwing? Where is it done? Who’s doing it? And how deeply involved is my creepy neighbor?

Once exclusive to the lumberjack community, competitive axe throwing proliferated across the US in the early 2000s as a popular bar game much like darts, only with more fatalities. The sport quickly took hold among the younger demographic eager to be distracted from their lives’ many, many other distractions.

Guidelines for axe throwing competitions are established by the International Axe Throwing Federation (IATF) and the World Axe Throwing League (UNICEF) through a Governing Body, formerly the Mongol Hordes. The rules are simple as is often the case with sports that involve a lot of booze.

• Axe may be thrown one-handed over the shoulder or two-handed over the head. Specifically, over the thrower’s shoulder or head! (Sigh!)

• Ensure that the area around the thrower and target are clear of people, livestock, and overhead powerlines.

• Remain behind the throwing line with seatbelt fastened until the thrown axe has come to a complete stop.

Fully versed now in all aspects of the axe throwing arts, I signed up for a one-hour tour of duty at the local Hatchet-a-rama or Hurling Center or whatever they’re called, and invited my two sons, Russell and Brian, and close friend Mike to join me. We signed the numerous waivers that each began, “Dude! It’s all your fault if . . .” and met that Sunday in a shopping mall parking lot.

A sign on the door of Tomahawk Central read, “Now Hiring!”

“They have to put up that sign every three, four days,” said Mike. “So sad!”

Yes, the Funny Guys had arrived!

Inside, we introduced ourselves to Omar, our host and trainer, a young axe professional who probably could cleave the wings off a mosquito in midair. As he checked our waivers, Funny Guy Dave said, “Two quick questions, Omar. Do you get a lot of serial killers in here? Also, are you alone?”

Riffling through our paperwork, Omar casually responded, “Oh, we get a few. And no, I’m not alone. There are several hundred employees in back, most of them ex-convicts.”

I was humbled. “You’ve heard ‘em all, haven’t you, Omar?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” he grinned. “Do you want to ‘axe’ me anything else?”

“OK! Message received, Omar.”

Omar walked us around back to the indoor Cleaver Court or Pitching Pitch or Thunderdome or whatever they’re called and began a highly informative and engaging instruction in throwing safety and techniques.

“This is the axe head,” he began. “That’s the part you want to stick in the target.”

“Whoa! Slow down, man!” gasped Russell, one of the Vaudeville comedy duo of Russell and Brian.

“Shut up, Russell!” snapped Brian, the Heckle to his Jeckle. “I’m concentratin’ here!”

Russell and Brian from their Oscar-winning cartoon “A Day at the Axe Range”

After his brief tutorial, Omar had each of us take a few test drives to see how she handled, then stood back—way back—to coach as we competed.

Soon it became apparent that Heckle and Jeckle were equally mediocre, Mike was struggling, and surprisingly, I was preternaturally gifted.

This was a blow to Mike, who though older than me, is a competitive marathon runner, competitive athlete, competitive card player, and competitive, well, pretty much everything. And rightly so, as he tends to excel at everything.

Unlike me. So perhaps I can be excused my trash talking.

MIKE: “I can’t stop thinking about what I’m doing,” Mike grumbled after another bad blade bounce back.

FUNNY DAVE: “It’s a psych, Mike! You’re letting the axe get in your head! Hahahahahaha!!!!!”

Meanwhile, Heckle and Jeckle were more focused on refining their famous “Who’s Axe is On First?” routine then honing their woodman skills.

HECKLE: “Omar says if we’re tied after this round, we go into ‘sudden death.’”

JECKLE “Now, why would they call it that?”

HECKLE: “Right! And why does he keep talking about ‘splitting’ us into teams?”

JECKLE: “Ok, quiet! It’s my throw!” (SOUND EFFECTS: Whoosh! Boing! Crash! Clunk-clunk-clunk-clung-clung. . .) Damn!”

HECKLE: “Hey! Ya’ know what rhymes with ‘loser’? Your face! Hahahaha!”

JECKLE: “Shut up, Brian!”

Meanwhile, I kept racking up points with the precision and accuracy of a Mongol warlord. Successfully hitting the target is referred to as “sticking the axe” or as I prefer, “causing festering arterial wounds.” By the end of our hour, I’d won all contests, Heckle and Jeckle were booked to play the Orpheum Circuit, and Mike planned to change his name and move to another state.

I thanked Omar as he collected our weapons and asked him if he’d ever seen a walk-on like me who demonstrated such natural, unbridled lumberjack-like skill. He took a thoughtful breath.

“Axe-tually, Dave, you did quite well!”

HEY-YOOOOOOO! Move over, Heckle and Jeckle!

4 thoughts on “Axing for a Friend!

  1. Wow, this was a terrific read. You captured it all for a person like me who would NEVER attempt or accompany a friend. I’m not a thrower but I have been known to be an ax grinder for a few grudges.

    1. Thanks, Suzette! Honestly, I felt completely safe while I was sitting in my car with the windows rolled up. dj

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.