From our humble beginnings in 2006 the Backyard Axe Throwing League has steadily grown the sport that we created in our own backyard across not just North America, but across the world. We’ve hosted thousands of new axe throwers across our 14 venues, using our advanced axe throwing statistic software (AxeScores.com) to track totals of millions of axe throws. Even though we’ve brought our sport to the mainstream, there are still many who have yet to experience firsthand the unique thrill of throwing an axe. So, what exactly is BATL, and what do we do?
How It All Started
The sport of urban axe throwing that has taken the world by storm started just as you might think it would: at a cottage with friends. In 2006, founder and CEO Matt Wilson to a cabin in Southern Ontario with his closest pals and after hours of rain, they had to find a way to keep busy. The group began throwing hatches at a tree, and instantly felt the cathartic release of sinking an axe into softwood. Little did they know this was the start of something huge.
Upon returning home to Toronto Matt decided to set up a target in his backyard and invite some friends over to show them just how enjoyable throwing an axe could be. They didn’t need much convincing. Before long 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.
Axe Throwing at 213 Sterling Road
It didn’t take long for the crowds of people that had heard of our weekly axe meetings in a downtown Toronto backyard to make us realized that we had outgrown our small space. In 2011, BATL made its first move indoors into a nondescript warehouse in the west end of the city. With Matt still working his job as a bartender 3 days a week, our new location could only host leagues 4 nights a week – and believe it or not, that wasn’t nearly enough. The waitlist continued to grow, and we quickly realized that we had to make this experience available to not just our league members but also the more casual would-be axe thrower. BATL instantly started offering private tournaments, and that’s when axe throwing began to take off.
2013: The Expansion of The Backyard Axe Throwing League
Our only location was fully booked three months in advance year-round, making it obvious to us that the demand for axe throwing wasn’t going anywhere. In December of 2013, BATL opened its second location in a huge space in the east end of Toronto (nearly 5 times the size of our Sterling Road location), and the rest is history. Since then, BATL has ballooned to have 14 locations (including Toronto, Pickering, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, London, Kitchener, Hamilton, and Calgary in Canada; in addition to Novi, Scottsdale, Nashville, and Chicago in the United States). BATL now employs nearly 400 expertly trained axe gurus that teach over 300,000 people a year how to have an amazing time while throwing an axe. Countless celebrities have since graced us with their presence at locations everywhere, and we’ve been featured on TSN, CBC and The History Channel, MTV, Vice, and more – in addition to The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post in print.
What We Offer:
League Play: It’s no secret that the foundations of BATL start with our axe throwing leagues. Thousands strong we show the power of being good to each other, using the axe as a tool to build community inspired by our backyard roots. 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. League play falls under the National Axe Throwing Federation (NATF) umbrella, the worlds foremost governing body of the sport of axe throwing (of which BATL is a founding member). Being part of the NATF also gives you access to the most advanced statistic tracking in the sport of urban axe throwing.
Walk-In Axe Throwing Sessions: If you’re looking for a casual way to get involved with the sport of axe throwing, all BATL venues offer public walk-in sessions (no reservations required) every weekend. It’s the perfect way to test the water when it comes to axe throwing, with little commitment. Our expert coaches are on hand to guide you the whole way, so whether you’re new to the sport or looking to hone in on your skill BATL has you covered.
Private Axe Throwing Event Bookings: BATL offers two types of private event bookings: 1-hour bookings for groups of 2-5 people, and 2-2.5 hour bookings for groups of 6 and up. No matter which private event you book, you’ll get the same thing that BATL has become famous for the best one on one instruction from our skilled and friendly staff members, followed by a round robin style tournament and single elimination playoff – all orchestrated by our staff, leaving you with nothing to do but throw axes and enjoy the company of your guests. These parties are perfectly suited to any adult gatherings (bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate team building, adult birthdays, etc) and many BATL locations offer complete bar and food services, which means even less planning for you.
It’s been an exciting ride to bring the sport of urban axe throwing to the masses, and we can’t wait to share everything we have in store for the future. If you haven’t stopped by yet, what are you waiting for? It’s time to Join the BATL!