By Minda Honey
For the last decade, axe-throwing has been gaining popularity in Canada. Now, Flying Axes is opening the first axe-throwing venue in the region on Clay Street near the Extreme Park and just minutes from NuLu. The Flying Axes team is Mike Brown of LEAP digital marketing agency along with Forest Giant’s Dave Durand, Jon Shaw and Jesse Lucas and US Chia’s Zack Pennington, who gave me an early look at the new lumberjack central.
Flying Axes has eight cages and each cage has two targets. Parties of four to six can reserve the cages for one to two hour sessions – online booking is available now. The venue is currently 21 and up and is in the process of acquiring its liquor license. Pennington says, “We’d like to feature local Louisville beers as well as beers from around the state. And we also want to have your classic American favorites.” Currently, they’re focusing on cans, and some local beers under consideration are Braxton, Against the Grain, West Sixth and Goodwood.
Pennington wouldn’t describe himself as a big sports guy, but he still enjoys axe-throwing because “it’s more of a game, but it’s still really physical. And that’s what I like about it. It’s kind of taking the fun of something like darts or bowling and making it more badass. The ‘thunk’ of the axe hitting the wood is really, really cathartic and it’s a very visceral experience.”
I’d have to agree. Like most things that require a little bit of skill and fair bit of aim, you’ll need some practice to get the hang of it. It did remind me of bowling in many ways because it’s about form and using the right amount of strength. Each cage will come with a coach who’ll help you and your friends improve your throws and keep score of your games for you. Pennington gave me three tips for better throwing:
• Square your shoulders and direct your chest toward the target: “We teach people to throw two-handed because it forces you to throw straight.”
• “Watch your throws,” he advises, “because you can see based on how your axe lands what you need to do differently. Whether you need to scoot forward or backward, whether you need to let go earlier or later.”
• It’s all about finesse: “You don’t have to throw [the axe] super hard.” Throw the axe without enough oomph and it won’t reach the target; throw it with too much and it’s likely to bounce out of the wood target – and your axe must stick for you to score.
Even when my axe clattered to the ground instead of holding firm in the target, I was having fun and eager to throw for several more rounds. I could absolutely see myself at Flying Axes with friends – in fact, a friend visiting from California in April has insisted I take her while she’s in town. Pennington envisions Flying Axes as a first stop on a night out on the town or as a regular after-work hangout spot. Beginning this summer, they’ll be offering leagues.
Although the axe blades are dull, you’ll need to wear closed-toe shoes while at Flying Axes, and coaches will help with safety and other tips. For example, instead of high-fives to congratulate your friends, it’s customary to tap axe blades.
Pennington believes Louisville will embrace Flying Axes because “what we’re seeing is that a lot people want to have real experiences. You know, everything is an app these days, everything is a video game, and even though we’ve incorporated some of that technology into the experience, at the end of the day, you’re throwing wood and metal at another piece of wood. It’s a very hands-on, very real experience.” Flying Axes will feature digital scorekeeping, and there are plans in the near future to develop a leaderboard. VT
Opening April 2017
146 N. Clay St.