Axe throwing is the new sport sweeping the nation. There’s even a World Axe Throwing League with sanctioned tournaments all over the globe. Now, the sport has come to the Florida Keys.

It’s easy to understand the appeal.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. The sound of the axe connecting with the target is both satisfying and stress relieving. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

T.K. McElfresh nails it over and over, cheering his own throws, and those of his students.

McElfresh manages the Keys’ only (as far as we know) axe throwing cage. It “lives” at the Keys Cable Park on Grassy Key, but is often on the move to different festivals and events throughout the island chain. It recently made an appearance at the Florida Keys Celtic Festival and will travel soon for the Gigantic Nautical Flea Market in the Upper Keys.

Girls are better than boys. Kind of. When it comes to axe throwing, both men and women novices start on equal footing. “But … women are better listeners,” said McElfresh. Regardless, those brave enough to try this emerging sport love it.

McElfresh laid out some simple tips: Number one, line up the shoulder of your throwing arm with the target. Two, point your elbow to the sky, keeping it and the axe perfectly perpendicular. Three, use a loose grip with your pinky finger almost wrapped around the base of the handle. Four, let it fly.

“Usually, the only adjustment that’s needed is moving closer or further away from the target,” McElfresh said.

He’s good at it. And he’s humble as he demonstrates all his moves: the one-arm throw, the two-handed throw, the under-hand throw, the twist-and-a-half, the no-look-behind-the-back throw. Then he goes in for the kill — with an axe in each hand, he whips them both at targets.

The Keys Cable Park’s “cage” has two lanes, and the axes used are a little bit smaller than the norm. It’s built on a trailer and wrapped in chain link fence with a special cutout at the rear for photo taking. McElfresh said the best number of players is four, formed into two teams. Scoring can be as simple or as exotic as you like; for example, awarding extra points for hitting a corner or hitting the target’s rings in a certain order.

There’s only one rule: NEVER throw when your partner, or opponent, is headed up the target wall to pick up their axe.

The axe throwing cage is available for rent for private parties. The cost to play at the Keys Cable Park is $35 per person, per hour. (“We’re kind of on island time here, though. We tend not to notice if you get in a couple extra throws,” T.K. said.) To see if the cage is on Grassy Key, or to inquire about a rental, call 305-853-9278.

T.K. McElfresh, center, gives a quick axe-throwing lesson to two novices. SARA MATTHIS/Keys Weekly

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