Chucking steel blades at a wooden wall isn’t a good business model — it’s a great one. One that we built from the ground up with a focus on customer service & crafting a great experience.
For hundreds of years, many iconic companies have been born from forged metal and wood. Whether they built products from the two materials or were located in buildings constructed of them, metal and wood have created the literal foundation for success throughout history.
It only seemed natural that the brains behind Bad Axe Throwing would figure this out and revive a Canadian tradition with a modern twist.
While we’ve only just begun bringing the great sport of axe throwing across North America, our roots extend farther to a much simpler time. Before Instagram posts captured the evidence of a fun night out, technology ruled our routines and bars served more than whiskey and beer, Canada (and much of the world) ran on muscle. As history tells it, many Aboriginal people and settlers of our homeland were loggers, clearing forests to farm, build structures and heat their homes. At the turn of the 18th Century, the lumberjack was born. The timber trade was booming and many farmers went into to logging as a way to make a living during the colder months. A grueling business where the hours were long and the work was extremely dangerous, the men and their wives (also known as ‘lumberjills’), turned to creative sources of entertainment to keep their spirits up while living in remote campsites deep in the woods.
Loggersports were developed from competitions held in lumber camps that tested brute strength and endurance. They were fun games that kept people active and provided good old fashioned entertainment. Men participated in pole climbing, log cutting and axe throwing activities that are still a part of tournaments run today. This kind of ingenuity and creativity continues to be a part of our business’s core values and is at the heart of everything we do. It defines the history of Bad Axe Throwing as always evolving and has shaped our philosophy of focusing on creating an environment of pure fun.
At Bad Axe Throwing, we’re honoured to celebrate a vital piece of Canadian history in a completely unique way. Our founder, Mario Zelaya saw the opportunity to leverage the popular sport and transform it into a large recreational business. He realized it had the potential to be an activity that anyone could enjoy—young and old. Although business savvy, Bad Axe Throwing first experienced a few trial and error runs to discover the right type of wood to craft targets from and the right kind of axes to chuck. Zelaya opened the company’s first location in the fall of 2014 in Burlington, Ontario and since then, has never looked back. Together with Managing Director Jesse Gutzman, the two have redefined an epic night out from bar hopping to blade chucking. And they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
In only a few short years, Bad Axe Throwing has opened venues across Canada and the U.S. including Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener, Edmonton, Surrey, Winnipeg, Chicago and more.
Plans for expansion aim high but also consider a number of factors like any smart business.
Growth doesn’t come easy—in fact, scouting a location is a challenge. There needs to be an interest in axe throwing brewing in a city and there needs to be a venue that can be built to house wooden targets and hold large groups of people. Intense research into every location includes understanding demographics, history and culture. Each location needs to have a willingness to step out of the ordinary and try something totally different. So far, Ontario has been a main driver of the sport, however Zelaya believes as it continues to gain momentum, more and more cities will be able to support Bad Axe Throwing locations.
Currently, the team is aiming to add more US locations to its roster, like California. The potential in the sunshine state is immense and the team is excited to bring an authentic Canadian sport to its closest neighbour.
Now a full force team of awesome individuals, Bad Axe Throwing’s expert coaches and staff are focused on creating memorable experiences for every customer, every night. Often, you’ll find the team donning the uniform of the traditional lumberjack—plaid—to pay homage to the historical figure who started it all.