(Photo: Alexei Scutari on Unsplash)
Pigeon Forge has a little bit of everything. Music lovers can make their pilgrimages to Dollywood, as well as enjoy wonderful tribute shows that run the musical gamut from Conway Twitty to Elvis Presley. If nature is more your thing, the Great Smoky Mountains are ready and waiting, as are the many tour groups and a few alpine coasters for those who want to get up close and personal with the rocky behemoths.
Then, there's axe throwing.
Pigeon Forge hosts the Country Roads Axe Throwing activity, as well as a special dinner event featuring "feuding lumberjacks." And with this guide (as well as instruction from your axe-throwing tutor), you just might become an ax-throwing legend.
What Is Axe Throwing?
"Hold on a second," you say. "I've carried axes. I've used axes. Throwing them doesn't seem like such a good idea seeing as they're really sharp and dangerous."
That's a very good point.
Thankfully, safety is at the top of the agenda with axe throwing. The sport is similar to visiting a shooting range, only you're throwing axes instead of firing guns. And it's simple - you pick up an axe, go to your designated area, and throw it at a target. The goal is twofold. First, try and throw the axe so it lands sharp-end first in the soft target at the end of the range. Second, assuming you can get the axe to stick in the target, try to get as close to the bullseye as possible.
It's a popular sport, too. Concern about the dangers of axes hasn't stopped the sport of axe throwing from becoming so popular that an estimated 75 million axes have been thrown in competition since its inception. But that's because safety is paramount - instructors guide you through the proper technique.
Simply put - following the rules keeps you safe in axe throwing. The instructions of the pros at Country Roads Axe Throwing are essential, as is respecting the fact that you're holding (and throwing) a potentially dangerous tool.
How to Stay Safe When Axe Throwing
A good axe-throwing experience is a safe axe-throwing experience. Follow these tips to stay safe.
Tip 1 - Be Mindful of Your Clothing
First, the obvious - closed shoes only on an axe-throwing range. There's a chance you may drop the axe, especially if the handle slips through your fingers, and you don't want to make it easier for the blade to cut through extremities than it needs to be.
Also, be aware of the specific clothing you're wearing. Anything loose-fitting creates snagging potential. That means no hoodies, scarves, shawls, ponchos, or any other attire that hangs loosely from your body. A good axe-throwing instructor will ensure you're not wearing anything that could cause issues.
Tip 2 - Only Throw at Licensed Establishments That Respect the Axe
When done properly and under the correct supervision, axe throwing is a safe sport. But there are always a few bad eggs that ignore the rules. These bad eggs include a handful of bars that have decided that mixing beer with axes is a good idea. Sadly, this practice has led to injuries, as you'd likely expect, given the unwise combination.
So, this tip is simple - if the establishment doesn't take safety practices seriously, it's not a place for you to throw axes.
Tip 3 - Listen to the Safety Briefing
Anybody who's ever tuned out during the safety briefing on an airplane knows how easy it can be to stop paying attention when somebody's trying to help you. Don't do that at axe throwing. Your instructor is there for a simple reason - to keep you safe. Not heeding their advice is a recipe for disaster.
An axe-throwing safety briefing covers proper technique and the process for allowing everyone in your group to throw safely. Follow the rules, don't mess around, and have a great time.
Tip 4 - Never Cross the Throwing Line Without Express Permission
You wouldn't walk in front of the targets at a shooting range. Common sense tells you there's a chance you can get shot. The same common sense applies to axe throwing. A good venue has a clearly designated throwing line that every participant must stay behind until told otherwise.
Being "told otherwise" is key here. You can take photos with the axes you've thrown only when an instructor tells you it's safe to do so. Otherwise, stay behind the line and don't take any silly risks.
Is Axe Throwing Right for You?
Even with clear safety instructions, the most important thing to listen to is your gut. If your gut tells you that you don't want to throw axes, you're going to feel uncomfortable during the whole experience. But if your gut gives the all-clear, axe throwing can be a great time as long as you always do one thing - listen to your instructors. Stay safe, and see if you can hit the bullseye.
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