If axe-throwing turns out to be a fad like bowling, that has its heyday and then peters out after 50 years, that will be just fine with Matt Wilson, founder and CEO of Backyard Axe Throwing League, which is opening a Squamish location at 39002 Discovery Way in the Squamish Business Park, on Friday (Sept. 15).
The local location will be the first time the Toronto-based company has expanded into B.C.
Wilson opened his first location back east in 2006. Today, Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) has 11 indoor axe throwing facilities across North America, including the one opening in Squamish. Four more are set to open shortly, according to Wilson.
The Squamish venue will have six targets. Groups can book or individuals can stop by to give the increasingly popular sport a try, according to the BATL website, and competitive leagues will be formed.
Originally, axe throwing was just something Wilson and his buddies did in his back yard.
“For the first several years it was happening, I never thought of it as a business,” he told The Chief. “I had learned how to throw an axe from a friend while I was at the cottage and told my roommate about it. Then we put up a target in the backyard.”
Four years later, after many more friends and acquaintances had joined in and they formed leagues, the idea of starting an axe-throwing business was sparked.
Wilson said many people have raised the question of whether axe-throwing is just a fad that will fizzle out, but he isn’t worried about that.
“The word fad by definition means that in a flash… something takes over the nation quickly and then disappears. By that definition, 30 to 40 per cent of the population needs to try it out,” he said. “We have had hundreds of thousands of people through our doors, but we have barely touched the population of even Toronto, where we are the most prevalent with three locations.”
The company’s focus on forming leagues also means it isn’t a one-off activity, Wilson added.
“We are developing it as a sport, not just an activity.”
Axe throwing is accessible to almost everyone, according to Wilson.
“We’ve had a group of blind people come in and throw, a group in wheelchairs, a seniors group. We’ve done a 92 year-old’s birthday, we’ve done a 19 year-old’s birthday.”
The company has had no serious injuries in the more than a decade it has operated, Wilson said, though he acknowledged there have been some nicks and scrapes over the years, usually involving experienced league players who sharpen and bring in their own axes.
The company had an independent safety review done, Wilson said, and rated safer than track and field, bowling and other activities.
For more information on the Squamish Backyard Axe Throwing League location, go to batlgrounds.com/axe-throwing-squamish.