MILLVALE, Pa. — You might be surprised by how good it feels to throw an axe.
The heft of the axe in your hands, that raw and slightly scary moment when you lift it above your head, then the release — a strong-armed throw that when executed properly results in an oh-so-satisfying sound of wood being split with a thwack.
It’s a sound soon to fill LumberjAxes, a new Millvale business that’s counting on people turning axe throwing into a fun pastime, like darts or bowling.
“It is just like darts. There’s a bulls-eye with outer rings that have different points, and you want to beat your friends,” LumberjAxes founder Corey Deasy said.
An axe sticking in the bulls-eye area earns five points; the inner red circle is worth three while the outer blue circle is one point.
Officially opening Aug. 18, the Pittsburgh area’s first axe-throwing venue is in a rustic warehouse/ex-machine shop, a few blocks from the popular Mr. Smalls Theatre concert venue.
Next door is Grist House Craft Brewery, presenting a perfect pairing of craft beer and axe throwing, Deasy said.
“You come with your friends and you have a good time, and that’s it.”
Groups of at least six people on weekdays, eight on weekends, can reserve their lanes and take turns heaving a 1.5-pound axe — it really looks more like a hatchet — at a wooden target 14.3-feet away. There are 20 lanes side-by-side, and a BYOB policy, so the place could get lively.
“It’s sort of like bowling, but without the silly shoes,” says the LumberjAxes website. “And with way more axes.”
Competitive axe-throwing first caught on in Canada a decade ago, and is only now taking hold in the U.S.
Deasy tried it for the first time in February at a Philadelphia site while visiting his sister.
“Literally anyone can do this,” Deasy said. “I actually went back a second time and I took my wife and she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and she almost won the tournament so this really has mass appeal.”
After those Philly trips, Deasy, already the founder of Escape Room, Pittsburgh’s first recreational puzzle escape room, decided to open an axe-throwing venue in western Pennsylvania.
He took over a 6,000-square foot space in Millvale.
“This neighborhood really has a hip vibe,” he said. “There’s a lot of cool things going here.”
Besides the Grist House craft brewery, there’s the Draai Laag Brewing pub style tap room down the street. Millvale’s business district also is home to enough homespun pastry shops and eateries to earn an entire Rick Sebak-WQED documentary.
You can imagine a wedding party blowing off steam at LumberjAxes, or some co-workers on a Friday night, flinging axes at the wooden targets.
“It relieves a little bit of tension,” Deasy said. “When you start to get the axes to stick, it is really addictive.”
LumberjAxes will have coaches on-site to teach the proper throwing technique. It only takes a few demonstrations and an attempt or two to learn the four-step technique of grip, stance, wind-up and release.
“Some people pick it up right away,” Deasy said. “They immediately start sticking the axes on their first throw.”
LumberjAxes has gained conditional member status in the National Axe Throwing Federation, which stipulates axes must weigh between 1.25 and 1.75 pounds.
If that’s not enough firepower for you, LumberjAxes soon will add ninja stars, knives and Batman batarangs.
Information from: Beaver County Times, http://www.timesonline.com/