SIOUX CITY — Ax or hatchet throwing is a unique sport that has continued to develop since the early 2000s.
It is well known as a way to relieve stress, venting anger by throwing a sharp object.
In Sioux City, there are two different places to throw axes, offering similar experiences: Woody’s Ax Throwing, 1227 Fourth St. and Ax to Grind, 2101 Hamilton Blvd.
Ax to Grind opened in 2019 as an urban ax throwing venue open to people of all ages. Ashley Mondor, store manager, has been with the company since it opened.
She knew someone who was a professional ax thrower and told him about the job. Mondor was a para-educator and needed a break. She wanted a quick, easy-going job.
Mondor said the place immediately felt like home.
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“We have people in their 80s or 90s who come to throw and we have kids who love to come to throw,” she said.
People throw the ax for various reasons. Whether it’s a fun night out with friends or family, a hobby or a way to relieve stress, Mondor says it’s an activity anyone can learn.
“You walk through those doors, and you know you’re safe and you can relax,” she said. “We try to make it fun, we do it so you always have someone to talk to.”
The story has a variety of regulars and newbies each week, but Mondor said a lot of new people are becoming regulars. She said if someone throws once, the majority of the time they get hooked.
Some of the urban ax throwing places are in bars. Ax to Grind offers around 70 different kinds of canned beer as well as sodas and tea. She said people can feel like they’re in a bar, but still be in a family-oriented place.
Throwing the ax for the first time can be intimidating for people, she said. When someone walks in, she says they are immediately welcomed and after signing a few forms, they go through a security briefing. The briefing teaches newcomers the safety rules as well as a few different ways to cast.
Mondor said there are three main ways to throw an axe. The first way is with both hands called the batter’s grip. The pitcher places their dominant hand on the bottom of the grip and the non-dominant hand on top.
The second throw is one-handed. Mondor recommends throwers put their little finger on the bottom of the axe. She also said to avoid throwing it like swinging a baseball and swinging on the body.
“You have to make sure you stay nice and straight,” she said.
The third way to throw is called the pistol grip. The pitcher places their dominant hand on the bottom, aligns both thumbs and squeezes together.
For beginners, she recommends throwing with two hands. For starters, she said they order people to stick their guts out by bringing their arms behind their heads. As they prepare to throw, they have to lean forward and stick their butts out, she said.
Mondor does not encourage trick throwing as it can be dangerous.
Ax to Grind also offers mobile ax throwing and will be available to attend events and provide ax throwing opportunities. Mondor said it’s often an easier way for people to engage with the activity and less intimidating than going there.
There is a target on the wooden planks consisting of four rings and a bullseye in the center, while the two points in the outer ring are high risk and known as the kill shots. The traditional game of ax throwing involves 10 throws, followed by a tiebreaker. The person with the most points wins.
There are also a variety of other games people can play when throwing an axe. The sport has its versions of Yahtzee and Cricket, as well as other games like Landmines, Odd Man Out, Called Shots, Tug of War, and Cornhole Ax Style. Instructions can be provided for these games.
Ax throwing began to become popular in North America in the early 2000s. Backyard Ax Throwing League claims to be the first in the world to provide an urban venue for indoor ax throwing in 2006 and is a founding member of the International Ax Throwing Federation.
Throwing axes date back to prehistoric times as a weapon. There is no specific date or time when ax throwing became a recreational activity, but legend has it that the first ax throwing competitions were held between Celtic tribes or early settlers. ‘North America. Modern sport ax throwing is said to have started in Europe around 2001.