“Commit to the lunge,” said Jack Farrar, as the axe I’d just flung ricocheted off the back wall, missing the wooden target by centimetres.
Axe-throwing is hard. Much harder than you’d expect.
Even my lumberjack-dressed instructor struggled to get a bull’s eye (sorry Jack) as he demonstrated the technique at the beginning of my session at Whistle Punks, an urban axe-throwing venture under an archway in Vauxhall – 30 minutes on the Tube from Canary Wharf.
The first centre of its kind in Europe, let alone London, prides itself on offering “the most satisfying and social day or night you’ll ever have” – a bold claim.
But there was something undeniably satisfying about the primitive thud of metal on wood when, on my third go, I got it right – holding the axe high above and behind my head, leaning forward into the throw and watching the sharp blade thwack right on target.
It’s not the first novelty activity to encourage stressed city workers to decompress. Shoreditch is saturated with ping pong bars, crazy golf and even shuffleboard.
But the simplicity of axe-lobbing, scoring more points the closer you get to the centre of the target, cuts through the superficial nature of some of its competitors.
It’s a more violent, less boring version of darts.
Plus, it’s a welcome alternative to post-work boozing, seeing as – for obvious safety reasons – alcohol is forbidden until you’ve completed your hour-and-a-half’s worth of weapon wielding.
Thankfully there’s a snack bar for fuelling up as I began to flag mid-tournament. Not so for my partner, who flung his blades to glory, winning a plastic-silver trophy at the end of the session.
The price is a bit steep. But for unearthing your inner lumberjack, unwinding and having a laugh while you’re at it, there’s no better place to don a chequered shirt and get stuck in.
Go to whistlepunks.com for festive special offers, from £18.75 per person (usually £22).