Throwing axes is the social, recreational activity we didn’t know we needed.
It’s like going to the bowling alley, batting cage, or local dive bar to toss darts. But the stakes are higher and for some reason — perhaps related the rush of holding such a deadly weapon — it’s a little bit more addictive.
When news hit of an axe-throwing club called “Mother Huckers” opening up in Bali over in Batu Belig, we knew we had to try it out, if only to show our appreciation of the puntastic name.
Thinking axe throwing was an activity reserved for lumberjacks and characters in classic Westerns, we went in not really knowing to expect. But we quickly found out the activity has evolved out of a Canadian backyard pastime (gotta find some way to keep yourself entertained up in the Canadian wilderness, after all) — and that it’s evolved into a legit sport.
We kid you not, there’s even an official international governing body for the sport: the World Axe Throwing League (WATL).
Indoor urban axe throwing is sweeping the globe right now — there’s already a club in Singapore — but Mother Huckers is the first in Bali. It’s so not a thing here in Indonesia yet, that apparently the club had trouble finding axes to use. Eventually the staff tracked them down and were able to source some from one old-school pasar on the island.
Mother Huckers follows WATL regulations, which outline code of conduct, safety standards, scoring, gameplay, and so on.
For example, throwing distance from targets is a standard 12-15 foot range, and there’s a three foot box you need to chuck that axe from. Moreover, there’s a proper axe-throwing technique that allows one hand holding the axe over or behind the head, or the same, but with two hands. There’s also a requirement that the axe must make approximately one full rotation for the throw to count.
When we started our “play” at Mother Huckers, we were given a basic safety orientation and introduction to axe-throwing technique. Staff demonstrated how to properly throw the axe and stated the obvious but necessary: Always wait to throw until the lane is clear.
Staff members are ready to assist at each lane (they patrol the area like hall monitors from middle school, though in this case their presence is very much welcome). The staffers keep score once the game starts and make sure no one’s getting hurt, which let us relax more and feel comfortable enough to throw axes/act a fool throughout the evening.
Mother Huckers has five lanes with two targets in each, so two people are meant to face-off and throw axes simultaneously when battling — unless you’re playing other various games like Blackjack, where as the name suggests, players do all their throws before switching off, with the goal of trying to get to 21 points without going over.
Being fully frank here: the first 10 minutes or so was super frustrating and a little stressful, and we were almost ready to toss in our axes and end early. We couldn’t get the axe to stick in the target, so the axe would keep bouncing off the wall and flinging back at us like a boomerang.
We were like, um, should we be wearing some sort of safety goggles?
Important note: Mother Huckers did have us sign a safety release when we arrived and registered, and we could see why, handling a literal weapon. But, thankfully, the axes never quite reached where we were standing.
However, the manager saw us getting down and dispirited, and jumped in, giving us a few extra pointers, which required some grip-adjusting and strategic body thrusting as we tossed. Lo and behold, the tips actually worked and we started hitting the board and landed some bulls eyes in the remainder of the session.
Once you can stick the axe in the target, trust us — the whole experience becomes a whole lot more enjoyable, and all we wanted to do from then on was throw axes with pure, wild abandon.
The best part is probably when you get to the 10th round of a game and try to get the “kill shot”, which is marked on the target as a red circle on the upper outer ring of the circles. For the kill shot to count, you not only have to get the axe in the circle, but competitors must yell out “kill shot” in the process of throwing.
We’re happy to report that our last shot of the evening was a kill shot.
We went during Mother Huckers’s soft opening, so we got a one-hour session for IDR100k (US$6.96)/person at the time, but the current price is IDR200k (US$13.91) per person, and you get one to two hours, depending on group size, so everyone can get the same number of shots.
Between our party of two, in the span of one hour, we managed to spend around 15 minutes learning the basics and warming up, four games of ten-shots, a round of Blackjack, and then another round of three games, 10-shots per game. It felt like just the right amount of time for two people, so we’d imagine you would want to be there longer if you’ve got a bigger group.
Walk-ins are allowed, but they do take bookings and it’s recommended you call ahead if you’ve got a big group. It’s a maximum of 12 people per lane, but for bigger groups they can just split people across more additional lanes.
When we visited on a Thursday night, there was one big group that walked in before us and finished mid-way through our session, but we were alone the rest of the evening.
They’re also operating a bar on the premises that would make any bearded Canadian hipster feel right at home with exposed concrete, hanging Edison-style bulbs, wood-topped stools, and, of course, a wooden moose head mounted on the wall.
At the moment, they’re selling smoothies, and the bar is dry, save for some beer and Magners ciders. Maybe hit up the bar after your axe-throwing session if you’re not used to the sport. You know, for safety’s sake.
Important note #2: They require closed-toed shoes to play. Again, for obvious reasons.
If you get hooked into this whole hucking thing, then stay tuned — Mother Huckers has an international league in the works that will coincide with WATL, which kicks off in January and will run for two months.
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