BATL | The Backyard Axe Throwing League

Starring Jonathan League. Photo by  @jasonmyersphoto

Starring Jonathan League. Photo by @jasonmyersphoto


Jonathan League was in the process of getting his business degree at Belmont University when he stumbled on an article featuring the top 20 things adults do around the world. One of them was axe throwing.

“I went about two weeks without sleep,” Jonathan says. “I was infatuated. The next two weeks to a month, every person I talked to, I asked them about what they thought of this.” He continued to put out feelers about the public perception of – and more importantly, interest in trying – throwing axes. As graduation neared, he gauged market interest and put together a business plan.

“I almost failed out of Belmont in my final semester for starting this business,” he laughs. “I had to kind of put it on pause for a second and get my degree.”

The result is Throw Nashville, which Jonathan opened in March of last year and partnered with BATL, the Backyard Axe Throwing League, to become their location in Nashville. The goal, per BATL’s website, is “to show people the power of being good to each other, using the axe as a tool to build community inspired by our backyard roots.”

For Jonathan, the power of axe throwing goes even further. When the Michigan native – who served seven years in the military before doing contract work and then heading to business school – was out buying materials for his first board, he got a call from a friend. “I could tell in his voice that something wasn’t right and he mentioned that he was depressed and that he wasn’t feeling good,” Jonathan recalls. “I said, ‘Dude, I’m at Home Depot, come by right now, I’m finding the stuff to get this target built.” The two bought the materials, put the board together, and later that night, Jonathan captured a video of his friend, absolutely ecstatic, as he nailed a great axe throw. 

Featured Hat: STYLE IV - Vintage Trucker Cap w/ Curved Visor & 3D Embroidery

Featured Hat: STYLE IV - Vintage Trucker Cap w/ Curved Visor & 3D Embroidery

That inspired me. A lot of times people feel like they have to give them a whole motivational speech, really try to pour words into them when that person really isn’t open to want to receive those words. On the contrary, when you can build their belief in another area without them knowing that they’re doing it, and the outcome is actually what you wanted, that’s therapy.

“That’s what really pushed me and drove me to want to build this bigger,” Jonathan continues, “was like, okay, there’s more people like that out there.” The growth has been exponential, from groups coming in to private events. And though it may sound dangerous – axes are, well, sharp – the risk assessment that was done on the setup rates BATL as safer than bowling. Though there were doubters in the beginning – something that fueled Jonathan – axe throwing has already become a central part of recreational Nashville.

He recalls the moment he had with his friend in late 2016, and the impact that moment had on them both. “That’s the reason why I started the axe throwing business in general,“ he says. “I’m sure throughout all of our lives at some point somebody says, ‘Hey, you’ve got to find something you’re passionate about, you’ve got to find a why, you’ve got to do something bigger than yourself.’”

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