I have been an axe ranger for coming-on two years now. I am also a student, and there’s much to be said for this life. This is a short musing on what life is like for someone with a front seat to the growth of the sport.
I have often been asked by customers, when I call axe throwing a sport, if I mean it. I think these questions typify the problems with axe throwing. On a surface level its a very attractive sport, and I don’t feel anyone would deny that. However, axe throwing is still viewed by most as a gimmick, at least here in the UK. Thus, this visibility problem is something we as an industry and as sportsmen need to address. At my home range, Skeeter’s, we have been working to involve the wider community with club nights and leagues which place the sport and involvement above all else.
On the other hand there is the physical job of being a ranger. I think there is a very real pleasure in this line of work, one which in its simplicity is really exciting. I do a job I love, and it isn’t because of the throwing, or how cool my friends think the job is. The real pleasure of this job is providing accessibility to axe throwing for people who haven’t really considered it. Kids joy when they land an axe, the quiet pride of a spouse as they beat their partner in a game, or the stifled laughs of a stag do as the groom mucks it up. These things are really commonplace on a range, and they shouldn’t be taken for granted. Axe rangers are teachers, we are here to make people feel good about themselves. It is cheesy, but I don’t think there is anyone wanting to be taught that we can’t successfully teach. A final gift of this sport is also that even when you are doing it wrong, it’s great fun.
A last thought on life as an axe ranger goes to the future. Axe throwing as a sport is growing, and I think that is wonderful. However I think that it needs to grow in the right way. So many large scale axe throwing chains exist, and I think UK axe throwing would find this of detriment. The UK is a country that thrives on small, home grown business. The homely feel of community and personalisation in the UK market, is one which big brands just can’t emulate. I want a big community, I want competition, and I want comradery. However, I want it to come from British business. I have met many UK range owners, and they are great people, you can tell instantly how much the sport means to them. These interactions have shown me that international chains monopolising the UK could never provide what they can.
These are just a few ruminations, but I hope they provide some insight into the career.
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