Let’s face it, the holidays here in Chicago are pretty stressful; between shopping around for gifts, entertaining relatives and having to wade through lousy weather just to get to work, it can get both tense and exhausting. It’s also, incidentally, the time of year when all those traditional outdoor stress-relievers, like hiking or playing baseball, are no longer feasible, because of the inclement weather. So what’s a stressed out person to do? Well, luckily, there’s one activity out there that’s particularly effective at relieving stress – axe throwing.
When people think of axe throwing, they might conjure up images of barrel-chested woodsmen and lumberjacks in coveralls brandishing axes the size of a small tree, but it’s not really like that anymore (not that you can’t dress up like a lumberjack if the mood strikes you!). These days, axe throwing leagues are popping up all over North America, and it’s popularity can likely be boiled down to three things: 1) it’s fun, 2) it can be either competitive or purely recreational and 3) it looks pretty badass. It’s for all these reasons, as well, that axe throwing makes such a great stress reliever.
Starting with the first point, throwing an axe is just plain fun, and as such it makes for a great distraction from the workaday stresses of a Chicago winter. If you choose to either join an axe-throwing league, or just try axe throwing with your friends on a weekend sometime, the first thing that’ll hit you is how strangely entertaining it is feeling that axe release from your hands as you throw it over your head, and seeing it cycle towards its target. It tests your focus, aim and power, all while delivering on the satisfaction of seeing an axe rip into a piece of wood. As far as stress relievers go, that certainly beats squeezing a ball.
And it can be either a competitive game that you enter with your buddies, or just a solitary skill you undertake. If you wanted to compete, as mentioned there are leagues like BATL (Backyard Axe Throwing League) that have 8-week competitions culminating in a playoffs. If you’re the kind of person that thrives on competition, that eases the winter stress by partaking in challenges and trying to best people, it’s definitely worth checking out. On the other hand, if you’re more of the solitary type, that finds learning a physical skill to be a kind of Zen experience, there are always options just to drop in and throw a few axes.
Finally, there’s no discounting the fact that throwing an axe is – and always will be – pretty badass. Hurling a blade through the air and watching it stick its head into the wood is a uniquely cool feeling, as is competing to see if you get it on the bullseye. It’s all the finesse and focus of darts, but with a literal axe. You feel totally in control. And, after an arduous day at work, or a trying encounter with relatives, after shopping and cooking, cleaning and shovelling, feeling like you have control over something is pretty relaxing.
So there you have it: it’s fun, competitive and feels cool. There’s a lot of stress blowing around the Windy City this time of year, but you can cut through all that by throwing an axe.
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