Laurelhust Park looks as it would on any other sunny Saturday evening: dogs, sunbathers and families clustered on picnic blankets.
But today, there are also axes. Flying through the air.
Portland Axe Throwing's founder, Eilif Knutson, explains that "there are a lot of different hashtags" for the style of axe throwing his club usually does, but it's commonly referred to as modern axe throwing—2-pound hatchets, thrown inside a cage of PVC pipes and orange netting at a wooden target. Consider it archery, but with axes.
According Knutson, Portland Axe Throwing is the only axe-throwing club with a collapsible bike-mobile throwing cage—Knutson transports it around the city on a long, custom-made bike trailer. "We are by far the nerdiest club out there," he says.
By that, he means they're really into coming up with games with arcane scoring systems, like an axe-throwing version of tic-tac-toe. But they're also pretty good: Last week, Portland Axe Throwing competed in Estacada's Timber Festival where it placed third, and it often competes via Instagram with its sister club, Axe Throwing Ireland.
But for people who spend a lot of time throwing sharp objects at a target, everyone at Portland Axe Throwing's barbecue seems very laid-back. Steve explains that axe throwing is how he unwinds after work. "It's just meditation," he says. "It's a release."
He's right—it's deeply satisfying and strangely addictive when the axe sticks in the target.