Posted: January 18, 2020

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How It All Started At The Backyard Axe Throwing League

Back in 2006, a group of friends were bored at a cottage outside of Toronto and decided to throw an axe at a stump. Little did they know that this innocent way to pass the time would soon evolve into the creation of a worldwide sport.

Upon returning home to Toronto, BATL founder and CEO Matt Wilson decided to set up a target in his backyard and invite some friends over to show them just how cathartic throwing a sharp axe into wood could be. A point system was created, and soon enough a group of 8 friends would meet every week and engage in some friendly competition. 8 friends quickly grew to 16, and 16 quickly grew to 32. Before he knew it, Matt was hosting 2 full leagues of a total of 60+ per night in his backyard, not including all the spectators that would stop by to catch a glimpse of our exciting new sport.

It didn’t take long before the Backyard Axe Throwing League had outgrown its very own backyard. As you can imagine, putting that many people in a small outdoor space together got very loud very fast, and noise complaints were coming to a frequent issue. Not to mention, word had spread throughout the city so fast that the waitlist to join a league was becoming never ending. In 2011, BATL moved its operations indoors and secured an industrial space in the west end of Toronto. We instantly had leagues running four nights a week, and soon after opened up to private group bookings (perfectly suited for bachelor and bachelorette parties, adult birthdays, corporate team building, or a night out with friends).

Fast forward to 2018, the Backyard Axe Throwing League now has 13 locations across North America offering up the urban axe throwing experience that we pioneered over 12 years ago.

The Establishment Of The National Axe Throwing Federation

The National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF) was established in 2016 to service the sport of axe throwing globally, with a vision to create broad and standardized competition amongst players, while providing member support through a mandate to promote universal safety, sportsmanship and competitive protocol. All league play falls under the National Axe Throwing Federation umbrella, the worlds foremost governing body of the sport of axe throwing (of which BATL is a founding member). Currently sitting at over 4000 league members worldwide, being part of the NATF gives you access to the most advanced statistic tracking in the sport of urban axe throwing.

The NATF also hosts yearly tournaments at BATL, most notably the Summer Skills Competition and the National Axe Throwing Championships (NATC) and All-Star Weekend. The next NATC takes place in February of 2019 and is a day-long tournament that will be in its 9th year. The top four members in each league from all NATF members qualify for the pre-tournament, which ends up as a top 128 double-elimination tournament. On top of a cash prize, the winner also gets to take home the Wilson Cup – named after BATL founder Matt Wilson.

What To Expect 

Our axe throwing leagues run for 8 weeks, completely under the guidance of our resident axe gurus. Each season consists of round-robin style tournament play, where you’ll throw 28 games against other people in the league, culminating in a top 16 double elimination playoff on week 8. Our leagues are suitable for people of all skill levels, with staff on hand at all times ready to give you tips and tricks to make sure that you’re hitting the bullseye. With 13 locations across North America (including Toronto, Pickering, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, and Calgary in Canada; and Chicago, Novi, and Nashville in the United States) it’s never been easier to get involved in our sport.

The Axe Throwing Community

Joining an axe throwing league is a great excuse to get out of the house and engage in some weekly friendly competition. But more than that, it’s a chance to meet new friends and be part of an extremely tight-knit community. At BATL, our mission is to show people the power of being good to each other, using the axe as a tool to build community inspired by our backyard roots. Our league members come from all walks of life, and are some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet – and we can guarantee that you’ll make lasting friendships in the process. We’re immensely proud to have been the first organization in the world to offer an urban venue to experience the thrill of indoor axe throwing in leagues, walk-ins, group parties and team building.

What are you waiting for? Be awesome, join a league!

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