Lindsay man top Canadian axe thrower, places 7th in world championships
Matthew Colavecchia spends his days aiming for a minute target with tiny needles and his nights and weekends aiming for a larger target — with an axe. He says there are certain parallels between his day job as an acupuncturist in Lindsay and his passion as one of Canada’s top axe throwers.
“There is a certain level of precision and they are repeatable. You have to do them over and over and you can’t do them with any real emotion either.”
The 50-year-old Lindsay native competed in the International Axe Throwing Federation’s ‘Choptober’ event in Philadelphia, placing as the top Canadian and 4th overall recently. He also placed 7th in the world championships in June in the World Axe Throwing League.
Modern axe throwing is popular and has been compared to darts. It’s a target sport where players stand 10-12 feet from a board and attempt to throw their axe onto the target.
A friend from Peterborough introduced Colavecchia to the sport. The neophyte was set up with a lane coach and after 30-minutes and 30 attempts, he had five or six hit the spot and was hooked. “There is something intensely satisfying about throwing an object 9 and a half or 10 feet to another object and having it go ‘thunk’ solidly inside that target.”
Unlike the equipment investment to play golf or hockey, axe throwing does not require special clothing or even an axe. The faux lumberjack says you will be set up with the correct loaner axe at your first visit to a club, but admits he is on the verge of “owning too many axes.”
Colavecchia says he can teach you everything you need to know in 15-minutes, “but what I can’t teach you is the five years I’ve been doing it.”
While Canadian lumberjacks started throwing axes to while away time and have fun in the 1800s at logging camps, he does not recommend grabbing an axe and heading outside to hit a target.
He suggests for the first-time player, head to a club and a coach will teach you how to throw and what to look for. “When you are spinning an object through the air, there are all sorts of variables involved, like what angle do you want to hit the target?”
There are some myths about learning the craft. “It requires a whole lot less strength than people think,” said Colavecchia although he says endurance is very important.
Some people have mentioned to Colavechia they are not “angry enough” to throw axes. “Anger makes you perform poorly and make bad decisions.”
Don’t expect to get svelte at your local club as there is not a ton of calorie output, Colavecchia said. “No one has gotten thin from axe throwing.”
While it’s doubtful there were many, if any, females in the early logging camps tossing axes in competition, Colavecchia says they’ve made up for it today, “There is a huge component of women throwing in this game. They have their own tournaments.”
The chopper has opportunities several times a week to hone his axe throwing skills at many clubs. Some are at a distance and involve higher calibre players needed to compete at the world level. Sadly, his home club in Lindsay closed. For now, Collavechia travels to Bowmanville, Peterborough, Vaughn, Trenton and in the new year he will be in Brampton as well.
Colavecchia says when hitting the target, there is a certain level of elemental satisfaction that happens. But if someone gets hurt? “Nah,” he chuckles, “it’s axe throwing — not axe catching.”