Thwack! Ax throwing hits Honolulu
Reach for the six. That’s advice Honolulu residents and visitors are starting to hear in a former Kakaako furniture warehouse store where an entertainment company is trying to get people to throw axes.
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Reach for the six.
That’s advice Honolulu residents and visitors are starting to hear in a former Kakaako furniture warehouse store where an entertainment company is trying to get people to throw axes.
Blade & Timber Axe Throwing opened about two weeks ago, and became the first venue in Hawaii to offer the dangerous-sounding indoor game that has been slowly growing in popularity on the mainland and in Canada over the last several years.
Brenda Esteban treated her two youngest children and one of their friends to 90 minutes of hurling axes at bull’s-eye targets recently after seeing Blade & Timber on Instagram.
“I had no idea this even existed,” she said of ax throwing in general. “It looked like fun.”
BLADE & TIMBER AX THROWING
>> Opened for business: March 30 at 970 Queen St.
>> Cost: $144 per lane for 90 minutes.
>> Up to six people can share a lane.
>> Ten throwing lanes are available.
>> Minimum age to participate is 10.
>> Axes weigh 3 pounds and resemble carpenter’s hatchets.
>> Personal axes are not allowed.
>> Closed-toe shoes are required.
>> “Crocs of shame” are available for those without appropriate footwear.
>> Throwing distance is 12-16 feet.
>> Middle boards in each target last only 3 or 4 sessions.
>> Info: 208-1709 or bladeandtimber.com/locations/honolulu
Luke Esteban, 14, and his younger brother, Lain, 11, played a variation of the basketball game H-O-R-S-E with friend Luke Tuasivi, 11. They called out specific scoring rings on the target and attempted to stick the ax blade into their announced spots on the painted Douglas fir backboard.
“It feels satisfying getting it clean into the wood,” Luke Esteban said after one strike.
Also playing the game with the kids was Brenda Esteban’s brother, Tommy Furtado, who had an advantage because he had thrown axes for the first time about two weeks earlier while on a trip to Utah.
Ax throwing isn’t hard. But there are basic techniques and safety precautions that Blade & Timber “coaches” show every customer.
Some of the techniques include gripping the ax handle with straight thumbs, similar to a golf grip, and pointing elbows out at an angle for two-handed overhead throws. Also, hash marks in each throwing lane indicate the distance from the target, and are used to determine where an individual is most likely to get their ax blades to stick in the target based on variables that include how hard a person throws.
Tim Mussack, manager of the Kakaako Blade & Timber, said on average people take three or four tries to stick an ax in the target.
Patrick Long, coach for the Esteban group, demonstrated with an ax while also describing good throwing mechanics: “Put your thumbs up, like golfing. You’re going to square your feet up toward the target. Elbows wide. You’re going to raise the ax over your head. Take a step forward toward the target, and release and reach for the six. It’s all going to be one fluid movement with all the inertia and force toward the target.”
The “six” refers to the red bull’s-eye, which is the innermost of five rings on the target and is worth six points.
Depending on interests of each customer, coaches can teach other throws that include one-handed throws, underhanded throws and a two-ax throw. A variety of games can be played, including cricket and first to 50 points.
Morgan Fortson played the latter with a friend, and won 50-47 with a strike to the bull’s-eye. “It feels like nothing I’ve ever done before,” said the 30-year-old bartender.
Fortson, who grew up in Washington state, said she’d seen lumberjack competitions on TV and in person but never imagined someone would turn ax throwing into an entertainment business for the general public. “It’s really fun,” she said, adding that she’d do it again.
Backyard Axe Throwing League, a Canadian organization, is often credited with starting the industry after moving what began as backyard gatherings in the late 2000s to a warehouse in 2011. Now BATL has 10 locations in Canada and five in the United States.
Many other companies have gotten into the game. Operators just in Utah include Social Axe Throwing, Axe Arena, True North Axe Throwing, Phat Axe and Kiss My Axe. Around the world, there is MANIAX Axe Throwing in Australia, Whistle Punks Urban Axe Throwing in England and Axe Factor in Singapore.
The first Blade & Timber was established in Kansas City, Mo., two years ago by Missouri-based entrepreneurs who opened the escape room attraction Breakout Waikiki four years ago. Since then, the company has added three locations in Kansas and one in Seattle. Three more are slated to open soon in Minnesota, Miami and Scottsdale, Ariz.
At some Blade & Timber locations, beer is available but limited to three per person. The Honolulu operation opened without beer and the company has not said whether it plans to add that later. Leagues are another possibility and exist at some Blade & Timber locations.