(Note: I wrote this two days ago but finally got a moment to post it.)
I’m on a plane to Hawaii, which means I finally have time to update my blog. Y’all, being on vacation is hard work. Between my trip to San Diego and prepping for this conference (why I’m headed to Hawaii), I have been super busy. And somehow I left my house a wreck before this trip. Oh well. I can’t do everything.
Okay, so I went to San Diego because my oldest (by which I mean longest running since she is actually younger than me—we have been friends for over 30 years, a fact that makes both of just sit back and go “Whoa” when we think about it. Over 30!) friend was there for a conference (not the one I’m headed to, obviously). She asked if I would be around, and I was like YES!!! so I headed down there for a visit.
I took the train, which was lovely but also slower than driving because my train got delayed over an hour. (Also, I learned that it’s actually more convenient for me to drive places if I can, so lesson learned and all that.) The delayed train ride was just the beginning of what would be a comedic start to our visit.
For one thing, I got the dates mixed up. I was supposed to get there on Thursday but went on Wednesday instead. This was especially funny because she told me the third, texted me and told me she would see me on Thursday (a text I responded to in the affirmative), and then when I texted her ON WEDNESDAY to tell her my train had been delayed, she was very much like, “What are you talking about?”
So yes, I got there a day early, which worked out fine because another of her friends was meeting her there as well and was supposed to be there on Wednesday but booked all of her travel for Thursday. So we just swapped places, basically. And it all worked out. But it was all very confusing.
Blah blah blah visit and catch up blah eat some food blah de blah conference blah.
Then, on my last night there, the three of us went ax throwing.
I had zero idea what to expect (aside from throwing axes). The facility was VERY COLD, which makes sense since it was basically in an industrial space and the actual throwing of axes is a pretty good workout. When we walked in, we could see a couple getting instruction in throwing axes, and the woman half of the couple sent an ax that hit the bullseye or pretty close to it, so I started cheering. My friend was all, “OMG, you are all up in their business,” but in my defense (a) they were right there and (b) it was pretty badass.
We had to wait a little while because we were walk-ins (you could set up a session in advance) so had to wait for an instructor to become available. After signing release forms, we wandered around the place a bit. The facility was set up with targets all along the left wall and partway along the right. Also on the right was a place to get merch and a video game room set up with an old school Nintendo—an actual old school one with the cartridges and everything—and some other gaming consoles. We were very taken with the Nintendo because it was an actual old school Nintendo, which gave us all memories of blowing into the cartridge to try to get the game to work. Aw.
There were also two swings hanging from the ceiling made of rope and slabs of wood. In fact, almost everything in there was wood, including the targets, and the nifty custom toilet seat. We did a little swinging, and one of us was so terrified, she almost fell off (it wasn’t me).
Finally, it was time. We were grouped with a couple (also walk-ins) and our ax expert, Andrew, introduced himself. First, we had to learn how to properly throw an ax before we could do anything else. He said it would be technique, then power, then speed, and then, at the end, games.
Safety first, of course. He showed us and told us all the ways we could impale ourselves or others with the ax, told us not to retrieve our axes until he gave the all clear, and said we were to always “check our six” just like at the gun range. (I don’t know why he assumed we had all been to a gun range before, but okay.) Oh, and no throwing until he said so.
We started with a two-handed throw. The most important thing, he said, was to release the ax with our wrist straight and flat because all the power comes from your legs, not from the wrist. And then we were off.
I hit my target on the first try and it was VERY exciting. The guy from the couple in our group somehow managed to throw his ax on top of the cage over the targets. Given all the talk about axes ricocheting, etc. that was, well, not fun to see. Andrew then told us that before they put tops on the cages, the axes would sometimes ricochet over the dividers into another person’s area, but that was the first time someone had thrown an ax that high.
So, more throwing and then we learned how to throw harder by bending our legs to increase our power. More throwing and then some stretching. It’s important, Andrew said, to stretch your arm and rest it every 30 throws.
I have to say that I was quite good at the two-handed throw. So, of course, it was time to move on to the one-handed throw, which I was TERRIBLE at. At some point, I think my goal was just to get my ax to stick into the target with no concern about hitting the bullseye because my ax just kept bouncing off it or striking below it (and, of course, bouncing off). It was so bad.
My friend, on the other hand, was crushing it. I think she hit her target almost every time.
After we practiced the one-handed throw, we then did speed drills, muscle memory drills, and accuracy drills. We could use whichever throw we wanted for that one. Apparently, I peaked in the first round of training. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Then, our hour was up, and we headed home (well, back to the hotel) feeling much stronger and more like we could hit a tree with an ax if it came down to it. So it’s possible that now I won’t be quite as useless if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse.