Austin’s first recreational ax-throwing venue is bullseye

Danielle Ortiz

Alcohol and sharp objects may seem like a bad combination, but Urban Axes, Austin’s first and only axe-throwing venue, proves it’s a brilliant alternative to bowling or mini golf.

Behind lines about 14 feet from the wooden target, people hurl their axe in hopes of making a bullseye. This setup often seems like a medieval concept, but the BYOB warehouse-like venue in East Austin, which opened in September 2017, is the newest activity.

 After attending a Canadian axe-throwing bar in 2016, co-founder Krista Poll created her own company in Philadelphia with her husband and a couple of friends. The National Axe Throwing Federation, founded in 2016, boasts on their website of its 4,500 league members in over 58 cities. It only took a year for the axe-throwing trend to hit Austin.

“Since the moment we announced we were coming to Austin, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” Courtney Osgood, Urban Axes public relations coordinator said. “I think it’s because people are looking for something different to do.”

People ages 21 and over can play during open walk-in sessions to learn basics or have their next group outing at the venue. A typical session lasts from one hour to 2 1/2 hours.

Staff at Urban Axes knows people might be reluctant to mix beer and axe-throwing. But Osgood said not to worry because alcohol isn’t allowed in the axe-throwing area and an “AXEpert,” slang for an axe-throwing coach, is there every step of the way.

For some, the standard dinner and a movie or bowling is too routine. Sara Cline, psychology and English junior, can’t wait to turn 21 and throw some axes.

“A friend of mine went and since I love seeking out new adventures, it seems like it would be a fun time,” Cline said.

Osgood said  people are drawn to Urban Axes because it’s a social activity with some competition.

“I think there’s a misconception especially at the beginning that it’s a masculine type of sport, and that’s actually not at all the case,” Osgood said. “It’s not about the strength, but rather the flick of the wrist. I’ve seen girls in heels make a bull’s-eye.”

Scoring is similar to darts. Players aim at a wooden board painted with a bull’s-eye and rings corresponding to different point values.

Just like bowling leagues, Urban Axes offers 8-week leagues which are part of the National Axe Throwing Federation. The best part is experience isn’t necessary.

Nathan Ford, a member of the league, signed up for the Urban Axes Austin league after attending the venue’s open house. Since then, he’s thrown in every eight-week season that Urban Axes has held since they opened last fall — five in total.

Ford has traveled to Toronto and Baltimore to compete and said his favorite part is the people. Ford said he loves the opportunity to expand his community within and beyond Austin.

Osgood said something about throwing an ax draws people in and keeps them coming back.

“People don’t just come once,” Osgood said. “The minute someone hits a bullseye it’s almost like a rush of adrenaline and all you want to do is just hit that next bull’s-eye.”