Steve ‘ax’tually let go to hit bull’s eye

Steve McIvor practises axe throwing.

Forget having an axe to grind, now you can actually throw them.

Eastlake Island resident Steve McIvor has brought the tradition of axe throwing to Cape Town.

Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Steve made South Africa his home more than a decade ago.

Why axes? He laughs, and says the tradition actually originates from his home town.

“I actually didn’t do any axe throwing while I lived there, so my instruction level in axe-throwing is basically: I have axes,” he says.

He did share one crucial secret about throwing, which he then ably demonstrated: and that is – axe throwing is all about letting go.

One could apply this to letting off steam – that’s certainly an aspect – but Steve was referring to the perfect combination of aim, throw, and the moment one lets the axe go.

For all his earlier self-deprecation, his axes hit the bull’s eye each time – and he makes it look so casual.

The idea of an activity which is both tactile and symbolic – one which is also being popularised by movies – and which requires skill, is proving very popular among Capetonians.

Steve has taken his portable axe throwing boards to local establishments such as The Striped Horse in Muizenberg and Wrench Monkey in Lakeside and social media posts of the events show a host of proudly beaming faces of both men and women participants.

I could personally imagine this as a fabulous post-deadline activity.

“Simply put, it feels good. It’s fun,” Steve says. He offers team-building events and heading into winter the fires will be brought inside and there will be open mic events and a regular house band.

Around the corner from blades and bull’s eyes is a nook with comfy seating and a pile of board games.

Still – Steve’s interest in axes is more recent – his other love and skill-set is archery.

Here his movements are particularly well oiled, and his handling of the various bows as well as his descriptions of the particular features of each from scopes, tensions and weight, is clear evidence of his great love for the game.

He speaks with enthusiasm about the different sizes and styles because this is an extremely personal pursuit, he says.

“I would really advise people not to buy a bow until you have found your particular style and adapted it,” he says. Behind him hung on a wall are bows which people have given him because they thought the first step to pursuing archery was to buy the bow, and not knowing anything, have bought the wrong style.

So who is taking up archery?

“Actually there’s a wide variety of people. Regular people, and then movies like The Hunger Games have revived its popularity with younger folk. I don’t personally hunt, but I have had hunters come to learn how to shoot and their instruction is to be precise and need only one shot, and that’s a combination of skill, focus and the right arrow, which I advise them on,” he says.

Local archers compete with one another in tournaments, but also nationally. There are some clubs in Joburg and often the clubs send one another the results of their in-house competitions and compare results to establish national winners.

As with the axes, Steve demonstrates his archery skills, and it looks as natural as breathing to him.

His favourite aspect of archery is how it teaches and requires absolute focus.

In this time where all of our world is technology, it’s particularly refreshing to find activities that demand focus but not screens, and hand-eye co-ordination without anything electronic.

And although this is true on the floor, Steve is not lost to technology. Quite the opposite, he also designs video games, which is what his day job was for many years.

Now, he keeps this balance, with a healthy blend of both worlds: right on target.