Two St. John’s axe throwers are hoping to make the cut in a global axe-throwing competition this weekend.
Ryan Lane and Jeremy Harnum (who compete under the name the Yes B’y’s) are travelling to Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend to compete in the 2021 World Axe Throwing Championships, where a grand prize of $50,000 US is on the line.
Lane started axe-throwing around the time Jack Axes opened in St. John’s in 2016. Harnum started about two years ago, just before the pandemic hit. Since then, the pair say, the sport has become an essential outlet for human connection and for maintaining mental health.
“It’s helped me tremendously over the past couple of years,” said Harnum. “For me, it’s definitely the community.”
When it comes to international competition, Lane said he was most looking forward to connecting with like-minded people from all over the world.
“They’re just fantastic people who are all about having fun,” he said.
Love at first toss
The second that first axe left his hand, Harnum was hooked.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is dangerous. I’m going to like this a whole lot and I’m not going to not want to give it up.'”
Like Lane, Harnum has been cutting his axe-throwing chops since that day in 2019 when he wandered into Jack Axes for a work party.
Though a love for the sport drew him in, Harnum said the camaraderie between players kept him coming back.
“It’s a really nice and inclusive community,” he said. “Men, women, gay, straight, it doesn’t matter. It welcomes all kinds of people from all over. I’ve made some of my best friends that I’ll have for life here in this building.”
Lane, who said he “fell in love immediately,” agreed.
“Even though it’s a very competitive sport, it’s really incredibly supportive,” he said. “Even in tight competitions you see tremendous support between competitors.”
Making the cut
The Texas tournament marks Harnum’s first time competing at an international level, but Lane is no stranger to world championships: he’s done three in as many years.
“It’s not my first go-round,” he said.
Held over three days, which started Friday and run until Sunday, Lane describes the World Axe Throwing Championships as a “pretty large-scale event.”
It includes singles and dual hatchet events, as well as a knife-throwing series. Sunday’s semifinals and finals are broadcast on ESPN.
Lane said, as part of a small cohort of Canadian throwers, he and Harnum are often recognized for their extra level of commitment.
“It’s nice when they can see your level of interest,” he said, “when you’re willing to get involved and raise the funding needed to travel that far.”
Some of that funding came from Jack Axes, which organized a donation event on their behalf.
Asked how it feels to represent their home province on the world scale, Lane’s answer was simple.
“I guess ‘lucky’ is the right word.”