Let Your Id Out: Axe throwing and other badass activities

Photo courtesy Bad Axe Throwing

The ego is why you go to work. The superego is why you imagine you like going to work. The id is why you want to tap dance on your boss’ desk while stapling Post-It Notes to his forehead.

The id was a good friend back in the old days when we were naked, hunting mammoths, just starting to get on speaking terms with dogs, and otherwise running around like a bunch of barbarians. Now we’re civilized, so we have to pay money (see: work) to embrace the id. Fortunately, the Twin Cities are a regular font of businesses standing by to help you fuck things up.

Axe Wielding for the Masses

Bad Axe Throwers // Photo by Austin Cope

Bad Axe Throwers // Photo by Austin Cope

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Bad Axe Throwing, which opened in February in the back of the Ingersoll Rand building at 2505 Kennedy Street NE in Northeast Minneapolis, is one of the finest id experiences out there. It was conceived by Ontario native Mario Zelaya when he started throwing axes on his lawn as a wholesome pastime in 2014. Mario quickly appreciated that city slickers might enjoy axe throwing too, so he opened an indoor range in his hometown, and soon after expanded to more and more cities until he had a franchise. Bad Axe Throwing is exactly what it sounds like—hurling axes at big wooden targets, which is basically the Canadian version of clacking croquet balls around on a salad day.

I went to the new Minneapolis location with my friend Gabe, a wall of a man I met back during my bouncer stint at the Foshay. We were greeted by Nic Sable, an axe master with a bushy red beard and a ring through his nose. He showed us around the place, a series of indoor lanes fenced apart from one another to prevent amateurish axe throwers from ruining their neighbors’ day. The cathedral ceiling ensures that egregiously misthrown axes don’t require a ladder for retrieval. Nic told me that their liquor license was thoroughly applied for, and that they’d soon have local beer on tap. This is good news for people who are self-conscious about their axe throwing and want to loosen up prior.

Double axe weilding // Photo courtesy Bad Axe Throwing

Double axe weilding // Photo courtesy Bad Axe Throwing

Right off, Nic told us to pick axe-throwing names. Gabe chose “Black Thunder” because he is black. I chose “White Lightning,” not because I am white, but because I like “Grease” and “Beauty School Dropout” was already taken. Nic didn’t get to choose a name because he was too busy keeping score, poor guy. When we selected our axes, I reached for a real humdinger, but was asked not to use it because it belonged to one of the resident axe masters. It is a good thing I didn’t abuse his axe by doing something stupid, like throwing it at the wall as hard as I could.

If I ever hurled deadly objects at speeds great enough to crack maple in public, say at McDonald’s or the DMV, I’d be asked to stop and then taken somewhere special and quiet to think about what I’d done. At Bad Axe Throwing it’s not only encouraged, but your friends will make fun of you for not doing it well. The target is simple, a round wood slab with one, two, three, and four points rings, a bullseye, and two tiny blue “kill shot” zones that score 15 points during tournament games. Other games like Horse are played, although Nic and Gabe didn’t embrace my suggestion for one based on William Tell.

Good axe throwers’ axes stick into their targets blade-first with a satisfying thwuck. I am not a good axe thrower, so my axes made Don Martin noises as they bounced off their targets. But that’s the best thing about axe throwing: Even when you do it poorly, it’s intensely rewarding.

Monster Machines

Some bulldozers dozing cars at Extreme Sandbox // Photo courtesy Extreme Sandbox

An axe’s big shortcoming is that it can’t crush cars. To crush cars, you need the kind of monster machines that Extreme Sandbox is willing to rent to you. This mechanical wonderland was founded by Randy Stenger in 2012 in response to a question his son asked him while they drove past a construction site: “Do you think driving those giant machines would be very much fun?” Randy considered it and thought that, in fact, it would. He took that thought to its logical conclusion and bought a giant lot, peppered it with mounds of dirt and defunct sedans, and then equipped it with excavators, front loaders, bulldozers, and just recently a fire truck for people to come and play in without fear of violating several laws at once.

Bulldozers dozing dirt // Photo courtesy Extreme Sandbox

Out of respect for journalistic integrity, I went to Extreme Sandbox’s Hastings location to test things out. I can’t tell you how hard I laughed as I watched the tortured carcass of a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero dangle from my excavator’s teeth. Lifting a pile of dirt and stones big enough to fill up my bedroom in one swoop was cathartic. I also went to their indoor location at the Rosedale Center to try out their virtual reality training simulators. While fun, these devices are meant to be instructive and not Grand Theft Auto 2.0, so don’t go expecting explosions. In short, if exerting unnatural amounts of force on your environment sounds like a good way to let out your inner id, Extreme Sandbox is for you.

An elderly woman satisfying her id // Photo courtesy Extreme Sandbox

Go Ninja, Go!

Ninja's at their secret training facility, called Five Star Ninja Warrior // Photo courtesy Five Star Ninja Warrior

Ninja’s at their secret training facility, called Five Star Ninja Warrior // Photo courtesy Five Star Ninja Warrior

Depending on how fit you are, you may enjoy another id release in town. Five Star Ninja Warrior in Roseville was founded by Jason Saly, a competitor on the show he named it after. The indoor gym has all the clever contrivances you need to pounce around like some Eocene atavist including a salmon ladder, a warped wall, grip hangs, and more. I was pleased to find I could still climb a rope, hands only, during my time there. I was less pleased to remember what happens to your palms when you slide down a rope like a fireman’s pole.

Taking a Break

Break Room breakers breaking things // Photo via The Break Room Website

Break Room breakers breaking things // Photo via The Break Room Website

Regrettably, the purest id experience around is currently out of commission. The Break Room, which invited people into their Minneapolis space to take a sledgehammer to things like lamps, decorative plates, delicate knick-knacks, and television sets is now without a venue. Why a business that let its patrons smash things could be without a lease is beyond me. The founders say they are searching for a way to revive The Break Room, so for id’s sake, let’s hope they’ll be back on their feet soon.

However you prefer to express your id, whether it’s by assaulting unsuspecting targets with lethal weapons, hoisting cars with the aid of thousands of horsepower, alternately defying and paying dear fines to gravity, or smashing answering machines into other answering machines (one day again soon, hopefully), the Twin Cities have got it all. Just make sure you unleash your id in a healthy way before it becomes overwhelming and you do something brutish like using a salad fork during the cold appetizer course at dinner.