Paintball, axe throwing and plenty of reasons to try something a bit different

Tired of dusting off the same old sports equipment year after year? Throwing the same football, or hitting the same baseballs year after year gets old quick, so why not try out some sports and outdoor activities that take the action to the next level?

Summer is short in Alberta, much to the dismay of outdoor sports lovers and anyone who enjoys the sunshine. There is only so much time to get out and try all the exciting things going on in the summer sun, and for those getting bored of the same sports year after year, here are a few ideas that might go a long way to making the summer more exciting.

 

Axe Throwing

Where: BATL Calgary, 2151 32 St., N.E. OR your backyard

When: By private booking, or Friday / Saturday afternoon public drop-in sessionsSome axe-throwers were first introduced to the sport at BATL Calgary’s indoor location, but many axe throwers keep the backyard tradition alive, staying in practice by throwing axes on their own property. Photo by Jodi Brak

Think of it like a game of darts, but much more destructive. For those looking to channel their inner Viking or lumberjack, look no further than the Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL).

The club began in Ontario in 2006 and has since spread across Canada and the United States, including BATL’s Calgary location, which opened in the summer of 2015.

They offer anyone intrigued by the concept of throwing axes the chance to learn proper technique from veteran throwers, practice at the indoor throwing range and compete with friends or other enthusiasts in weekly league matches.

The sport has gained enough popularity that several celebrities have even given the axes a throw, including Vin Diesel and Ruby Rose during a recent visit to the BATL Calgary location.

Jesse Ball of BATL Calgary says there are a few ways for prospective axe-throwers to get involved at the official location. Groups can organize a private booking and get over 2 hours of throwing with friends, or come for drop in nights on Friday and Saturday evenings.

As the name suggests, axe throwing started in the backyard and many enthusiasts keep that tradition alive, hand-crafting their own targets or simply picking an unlucky tree, stump or piece of plywood. This sport is easily enjoyed at an official venue or simply in the great outdoors with some good friends.

Paintball

Where: Rampage City Paintball, Bragg Creek Paintball, Capture the Flag

When: By private booking, Sunday walk-on sessions or special big game events

Reid McGrath, a player with the paintball team “The Unnamed,” returns fire during a skirmish at the June 5 “Big Game” at Rampage City Paintball. Photo by Jodi BrakCombine the adrenaline rush of your favourite action film with a healthy amount of exercise in the great outdoors and you’ll begin to understand the thrill of paintball.

The staccato crack of shots being fired, the excited screams coming from the field, the distinct smell of the paintballs and the intense rush of simulated combat have kept players coming back to the sport for years. There are several locations around Calgary that offer private bookings, walk-on sessions and special events for anyone interested in experiencing the rush of chasing friends with a paintball gun.

Veteran paint-warriors can bring their own gear and newcomers to the sport can rent all the necessary equipment on-site, making the sport accessible even to those who have never played before.

Rampage City Paintball hosts a “big game” once a month during the summer, where more than 100 players will often come out for a day of intense battles, sometimes with a specific theme modelled after action films, historical battles or video games. The big games include a barbecue lunch, door prizes and a celebration for the winning team.

Paintball will get your blood flowing, your adrenaline pumping and will give you stories of valiant heroics and tragic misjudgement for years to come.

Skateboarding

Where: City of Calgary Mobile Skatepark, local skateparks, the streets of Calgary

When: Pretty much any time

New skaters who wish to learn some of the skills required to shred the Calgary pavement can inquire about training sessions at the Royal Board Shop, Youth Brigade Board Shop or Westside Skate Park. Photo courtesy of John Rajic PhotographySkateboarding was one of the first alternative sports, and holds its popularity to this day. Starting in the 1950s when kids pulled the awkward wooden handles off of their scooters, the sport was popularized in the 1970s by bored surfers who decided to shred pavement rather than waves.

Skateboarding has a fairly steep learning curve, but enthusiasts around Calgary are helping those interested to learn the ropes.

“The best place for newcomers to get involved would probably be the City of Calgary Mobile Skatepark Program,” said Zev Klymochko, co-chair of the Calgary Association of Skateboard Enthusiasts. “They are supervised by veteran skateboarders who can instruct you if needed, there are less obstacles and it’s a great place for newcomers to learn in a safer environment.”

New skaters can also attend boarding lessons at locations around Calgary, including the Royal Board Shop, Youth Brigade Board Shop and Westside Skate Park. You will need your own equipment, including a skateboard, helmet, knee and elbow pads, but if you are serious about learning the sport there are plenty of enthusiasts in Calgary who would be more than happy to help you get involved.

For veteran skaters, Calgary is becoming home to three new skateparks this year, including the recently opened Southwood Skate Park at the Southwood Community hall. There are also competitions throughout the summer, with the Calgary Association of Skateboard Enthusiasts holding its annual Go Skateboarding Day competition each year on June 21.

Sailing

When: By private booking or membership 

Where: Calgary Yacht Club, Glenmore Sailing Club, Wildrose Sailing School

Prospective sailors in the city can get the training they need to get out on the open water in week-long training camps through the Calgary Yacht Club, or other programs offered by the Glenmore Sailing Club or the Wildrose Sailing School. Photo courtesy of the Calgary Yacht ClubDespite being a landlocked city, Calgary is home to many avid sailors and a handful of clubs that can offer inexperienced sailors the chance to get out on the water.

Among these is the Calgary Yacht Club (CYC), which sits on two acres of lakefront on the eastern shore of Chestermere Lake. Though operating largely through annual memberships, the club offers a variety of weeklong summer camps for children and adults.

Programming begins with kids camps for sailors as young as five years old, with training and activities taking place both onshore and on the water.

Beginner courses are offered for ages seven to 17, with little or no previous sailing experience, learning the CanSail 1 curriculum (the standard education for sailing in Canada).

This curriculum is also offered to adults of varying experience, along with additional CanSail 2 and 3 training, conveniently offered through the week from 6-9 p.m.

Though these courses offer curious adventurers the chance to test their seafaring legs while the weather is warm, activities continue throughout the winter for members, as the club holds social events to keep sailors in touch over the winter.

Membership may be a convenient option for those who do not have a vessel of their own, as members of the CYC with credible sailing experience may rent or lease a boat from the club’s own fleet, and have unlimited access to the lakefront grounds.

The CYC will be putting on a Family Fun Sail night at the end of both July and August, opening the club for people to drop in for a barbecue and try their hand at sailing under the supervision of membership holders and staff.

Calgary is also home to other sailing clubs, including the Glenmore Sailing Club and the Wildrose Sailing School, providing plenty of options for prospective sailors in the city.

For more information about the Calgary Yacht Club and its activities, visit its website http://calgaryyachtclub.wildapricot.org 

Thumbnail photo by Jodi Brak 

jbrak@cjournal.ca