What can beat the adrenaline rush of hurling a 1.5-pound axe at a target? Nothing, that’s what. And newly opened on June 13 (International Axe-Throwing Day—because, well, there is one), Houston has its very own indoor axe-throwing arena, a Texas first.
“No one has really done this, especially in an indoor type setting. It’s the adrenaline that you get when you hit the bull’s-eye for the first time,” says Sarah Sed, co-owner of Houston Axe Throwing in the Sharpstown area. If you’ve grown weary of sports bars, painting pottery with the girls, couples’ bowling nights and wine tastings, axe-throwing just might be the exciting, heart pumping alternative you’ve been waiting for.
Participants enter the throwing lanes two at a time, an “axepert” close behind ready to give instruction. There are two round targets, one for each thrower, each about 12 to 15 feet away. It’s as if you’re playing high-stakes darts.
“Birthday parties are very popular,” explains Sed. Of course, the individual’s birthday must meet Houston Axe Throwing’s age requirement of 18 years or older. “I just got an email the other day to reserve a private party for a woman’s 45th birthday. She found us and she was all gung-ho and her husband couldn’t believe that’s what she wanted, but he was all for it,” Sed laughs.
Axe throwing: It’s not just for lumberjacks anymore. It’s a bona fide trend, Sed claims. Houston is just one of the many axe-throwing ranges sprouting up around the country. “It’s just like how anyone else loves any other sport. It’s learning a skill, being able to do something with precision that you couldn’t do before, and there’s the huge community aspect of it,” she says. “[Axe throwing] is very big in Canada and is slowly making its way over to the U.S. in all the big cities.” Apparently, the thrill of the throw has caught on everywhere from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.
Sed’s range is affiliated with the World Axe Throwing League (yep, they have that too), the sport’s governing body. “We follow their guidelines for the lane sizes, the size of the axes that we throw and also for the target size,” she says. “This has been around for about 10 years now and there have been zero incidents because of the strict safety rules that we have.” By incidents, Sed means things like people getting their heads split open by an axe.
“We have trained axe throwing experts that are going to be supervising everyone at all times,” says Sed. “You are not allowed to enter the ranges or lanes without permission from the axepert and you are not allowed to hand axes to each other. We tell people not to catch any falling axes. If you drop it, just let it go.” Following these strict rules allows Houston Axe Throwing “to keep people safe and make sure that they are leaving with all of their fingers and toes.”
“The nice thing about axe throwing is, as long as people are within the safety rules we can do all kinds of fun things,” Sed continues. “Bachelor and bachelorette parties we have not done yet, but we do have fun things we can do. For example we can put a bra up on the dartboard.” In other words, Houston Axe Throwing is more than happy to customize your group’s throwing experience. Just remember to, ahem, axe nicely.
Participants can pick their poison from a variety of WATL-approved weaponry. “[The handles] can be made of different materials. It could be metal, wood, fiberglass, or plastic,” says Sed. “We have a few models that we let people try with, because everyone’s a little bit different in how they throw and in what they prefer. The one that everyone likes to start off with is the wood one. It makes them feel more like a lumberjack or a Viking,” Sed chuckles.
And so, your William Wallace from Braveheart moment awaits, in sessions of either one-and-a-half or two-and-a-half hours duration. The first 30 minutes are always devoted to practice time with the aforementioned axeperts who will familiarize you with the safety protocols and provide instruction. “Everyone will hit the bull’s-eye for the most part once they’ve learned how to do it,” assures Sed, and the participants are encouraged to compete for mini-trophies. Longer sessions, meanwhile, feature double-elimination tournaments culminating in the crowning of Lumber Lord or Lady of the group.
For Houstonians in the mood for something different, Sed promises a memorable time, one “they’ll talk about and reminisce on together, because it’s a unique experience that you all share.”
From $25. 6734 Larkwood Dr. 832-930-2937. houstonaxe.com