Joel Melnichuk has quickly become a pro at something he never expected: axe throwing. He is the owner of the region’s first axe throwing business: Bad Axe Throwing. Joel opened Bad Axe in Kitchener last month, just six months after opening his first location in Burlington.
People can’t get enough of throwing axes so he just keeps expanding locations and a Mississauga location is up next. “Axe throwing is addictive,” says Joel. “It’s unexpectedly fun and way better than bowling.”
Joel targets corporate and social groups, as throwing axes has become a fun activity for team building or an alternative for bachelorette or bachelor parties. But he certainly welcomes any group of people who want to hang out, have a couple of drinks and wield some axes at wooden targets for fun.
The Kitchener location is pretty raw – an industrial building with wooden targets along one wall, a bin full of axes, a single sofa, a stereo and a mini fridge to keep your bring-along drinks cold. But that’s all that’s required for this successful recipe. “Add in some beer and the thrill of competition and people are all over it,” Joel says.
There are only two targets set up in the space so when a group comes to throw axes, it’s like their own private party. Joel says that sense of axe-throwing privacy and exclusivity is appealing to people.
“It takes me about 30 seconds to teach people how to throw the axe at the target,” he says. “But it can take a while for them to actually hit the target, and to do it consistently.” In the six months he has been doing this, only six people have never hit the target after a couple of hours of trying, and often it’s because they just aren’t listening to his instructions.
“Women are better listeners so tend to pick it up quicker than the guys, but once you get it, you want to keep trying to best yourself, and beat others,” he says. There is no brute strength required as the axes are 1.5-3 lbs. It’s all about technique (tip: no flicking with the wrists) and practice.
Despite what you might think about axes and mixing it with alcohol, Joel says there haven’t been any injuries. The axes aren’t very sharp so no real damage would be done if someone accidentally hit themselves with an axe, but the one safety rule he does enforce is to only retrieve your axe from the target at the same time as your competitor. Yup, that’s a good rule.
Social media and word of mouth are building up his local client base quickly. A front page story on The Record and appearances on local media are certainly building the hype too.
If you’re feeling inspired to pick up an axe, you can book an evening with some friends or sign up for a seven-week axe-throwing league. He’s pretty sure you’ll get hooked quickly.
P.S. Joel’s favoruite topic of conversation: movies.