A typical two minutes in Brooklyn’s Kick Axe Throwing bar (or any of the many axe-throwing bars that have popped up around the country) goes like this: Grab an axe and face a large painted bullseye at the end of a lane. Lean back with the axe behind you, swing the axe forward over your head and release. Feel satisfied by the thud of the axe sticking into the wall. Repeat two more times, then drink beer.
“It’s a good time,” Dustin Lafleur, an axpert (their title) at Kick Axe tells Supercall. “You come in here, get your drink on and your axe throw on.”
Axe-throwing bars take two things that sound like they shouldn’t go together—axe throwing and drinking—and make it work. Unsurprisingly, the trend started in Canada with companies like Bad Axe Throwing expanding throughout the country starting in 2014. Now, axe bars are popping up across the U.S. Over the past year, axe-centric bars with an axe-cessive amount of puns in their marketing have opened in Brooklyn, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and other cities. The experience and cost varies place to place, but the gist is that a group of axe throwers rent a lane, similar to renting a bowling lane, and someone from the bar teaches you how to throw and play various axe throwing games. Before and after each throw, you can drink your beer or wine from the bar. Think darts, but on a much larger scale.
“It’s really not this violent thing,” Lafleur says. “A lot of people come in here and they’re scared. They release the axe and pull back in fear. It should be like yoga or anything zen. It’s a release, a nice time to have with your friends and drink some beer.”
The fear and questions that newcomers have are reasonable. After all, it’s not every day that you walk into a plaid-covered room and throw axes. But, Lafleur says, it’s perfectly safe if you follow the rules. No one has ever accidentally thrown an axe backwards or drunkenly hit someone. Ginger Flesher-Sonnier, the owner of Kick Axe, told Fast Company that the insurance is high, but clearly not prohibitively so, if that’s any reassurance. People as young as 7 can participate, and everyone catches on by the end of the 75 minute experience. Some time soon, the bar hopes to host league nights, during which groups of dedicated amateur axe-throwers can battle (axe) it out.
A couple pro tips from Lafleur before you go: Take a nice wide stance, release the axe in front of your face and “follow through until you’re like Usain Bolt at the finish line.” Lastly, trust yourself. You’ll be axellent.