Written by: Shaun Leslie Turriff with Photos by Angelique Koumouzelis
Visiting Sports de Combats was my first trip to this sort of establishment, despite their growing popularity in recent years. In essence, it was a lifelong dream come true. Something about shooting a stranger in the face with an arrow (safely!) is very, very cathartic. Sports de Combats has a well used look you’d expect from an establishment that has axes thrown in it. Greeted by a friendly Tim, we were asked to sign waivers (safely!), and handed off to Sam for the grand tour.
Hailing from everywhere, Sam’s calming, charming lilt (He says Irish, I believe him) introduced us to the axe and knife throwing. Axes, it turns out, are easy to throw, knives, both the throwing kind, and the larger, survival/tacticool kind, much harder. The throwing range does feature a jury-rigged, motion controlled knife storage unit, which admittedly was very cool, largely due to it’s DIY-ness. Ask Sam about it. Maybe he’ll teach you how to make one.
And Sam is a formidable teacher. It took no more than three throws for all of our group to master axe throwing, under his careful guidance. One of us with some Viking heritage got it after only two tries, a solid argument for genetic memory. Combats de Sports takes reasonable measures to ensure your safety without ruining your fun.
In fact, the face masks look pretty cool, in a Mad Max kinda way.
While we had less luck in throwing the knives (it takes practice, but we finally got it), Sam quickly got us up to speed on archery, another of Combats de Sports’ offerings. We were soon shooting like Robin Hood (Katniss Everdeen? How old are you guys?) alongside some members who use the range for a monthly fee and apparently order pizza (they shared!).
Because Combat Archery is best with more than six players, and we were only four, we recruited some Rage-Cagers (more on that later!), and Sam recruited the archery range members.
Combat Archery is possibly the greatest thing you can do legally in public.
The archery range is converted to a Thunderdome-style (Hunger Games Arena?) space with inflatable barriers. Combats de Sports offers several games, like Infection (classic dodgeball rules, basically), Medic (much more complex, with healers bringing back wounded players) and Free-For-All, where team members can turn on each other anytime they like.
I took an arrow to the knee in this game.
Let me reiterate: Shooting strangers and friends in the face with arrows (safely!) is very good for the mental health. Although it’s a great bonding experience, and by the end of three or four games, we weren’t really strangers anymore. There are no atheists in the foxholes, and there are no strangers at Combats de Sports.
We finished the evening in the Rage Cage, which is basically what it says on the tin. Suiting up to protect ourselves from shards of plastic and glass, we were given a crate of breakables, and a VHS machine (seriously, how old are you guys? It’s like a Netflix machine, I guess). We had a choice of baseball bats (good sound, good balance, a bit light) or crowbars (nice and heavy, and more pointy than the bats), and very few rules. We broke things. We smashed things. It was glorious.
Sports de Combats also offers Nerf Combat, which we didn’t try, but which the regulars described as “much more joyous than it ought to be,” which sounds good to me. They offer a bow shop and repair service as well, and can accommodate large groups, such as children’s birthdays or adult bachelor(ette) parties, with seating, if you want to arrange for a meal, or some cake. They can even do BYOB (for the adults, not the children).