FROM THE BATTLEFIELDS OF THE MIDDLE AGES to a strip mall off Bee Ridge, the immortal joy of axe-throwing lives on—whether the target be an opponent’s face or the painted and layered wooden planks at Axe and Bull Sarasota, the city’s first indoor axe-throwing range. “It’s something primal,” says owner Vito Amato, who opened the location only nine months ago in response to a growing national trend, and already has plans for big expansions and new locations. An occupational therapist by day, when 6pm rolls around, Amato becomes “the axe guy,” watching over his hand-built range, (installed to World Axe Throwing League standards) and the latter-day warriors assembled to show their chops. It’s BYOB, but a safety and instructional briefing precede each 90-minute session, with Amato explaining both the art of the throw and the rules that keep all those fingers attached—everyone gets two strikes for behavior, he says, but no one gets a third. Even the athletes probably won’t stick the first throw, Amato warns, but with proper form and a bit of confidence, most everyone finds the rhythm after about 10 throws. “And once you get that,” he says, “it’s magic.” 

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.