Bullseye! LumberjAxes Brings Competitive Axe Throwing to the ‘Burgh
Nov 30, 2017 01:19PM
By Vanessa Orr
The first time you raise an axe over your head to throw it at a target, a number of thoughts run through your head. Am I doing this right? Am I going to hit the target? Am I going to lose a limb?
It isn’t until you’ve thrown it a few times and hopefully gotten at least near the bullseye that you start thinking something else—man, is this sport addicting.
For those of you who have never thrown an axe or competed against others doing the same, you now have the chance at LumberjAxes, which opened this past September in Millvale. “I’d played in Philadelphia, and it was so much fun that I thought it would be a great thing to have here,” explained Matt Peyton, who co-owns the facility on Sedgwick Street with Jack Welsh and Corey Deasy. “We got lucky in that we found the perfect building for what we wanted to do, and that Millvale was so welcoming to us.”
When you walk into the vast building—one of the largest of these types of facilities in the country—the first thing you notice is the “thunk” of axes hitting targets. And while it may be a little intimidating at first (especially when you have to sign a waiver, because after all, you’re throwing axes), it’s pretty easy to relax once your instructor shows you how it’s done.
“People get excited once they realize that it’s not just a bunch of macho guys throwing axes in a warehouse somewhere,” said Welsh. “It’s hard to understand what we’re talking about until you actually see it.”
Since its opening, LumberjAxes has hosted bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, corporate team building functions and holiday events. The facility can hold up to 300 people, with 150 people throwing at a time. Guests are allowed to bring beer and wine to the age 18-and-over facility; recent events included a surprise engagement party and a person’s 70th birthday party.
“One of the best things is that just about anybody can do this; there are no physical limitations,” said Peyton. “It’s sort of like throwing darts; once you have the motion down, it’s all about reining it in.”
Learning to throw is fairly easy; the first 20 to 30 minutes of a session are spent with an instructor who teaches you the proper form and suggests adjustments after seeing you throw. “We watch while you get your feet wet,” said Welsh, adding that this time is also spent explaining the rules and scoring procedures.
The facility accepts walk-ins on certain days for groups of less than six people; an hour-long session includes instruction, and a 30- to 40-minute round robin tournament. Larger groups can reserve a 2-1/2 hour session which includes instruction, a round robin tournament, and a seeded single-loss elimination tournament. LumberjAxes is also in the process of creating an axe throwing league.
So who’s better at the sport?
“It depends on who listens,” laughed Welsh. “Some guys try to muscle it, and that’s not going to work out. Women tend to listen to the instructions and figure it out more quickly. Then the men start listening.
“Once we see how you’re missing, we can usually fix it,” he added. “Sometimes it’s how hard you’re throwing it, or the follow-through. Everyone definitely improves by the time they leave.”
I can personally attest to this fact; after a couple throws and more instruction, I hit the bullseye—and decided to retire undefeated.
In addition to learning to listen and take instruction, axe throwing promotes other skills as well, which is why some businesses are using it as a team-building exercise. “You are forced to interact with each other, and it takes you out of your comfort zone because most people haven’t thrown an axe before,” said Welsh.
“It also levels the playing field,” added Peyton. “Everyone is the same from the boss to the new intern. And it’s all fun and games until it’s tournament time—then everyone is playing to win.”
Even though it’s only been open for three months, LumberjAxes is already building a following. “We’re hoping that it sticks around like bowling,” said Welsh, adding that all of the lanes are usually booked up by 8 p.m. “People come just to try it, but when they get knocked out of the tournament, they want to know when they can come back and try again.”
LumberjAxes is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and on Sunday, and from noon -11:30 p.m. on Saturday. Open Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment only. The cost is $35 per person for 2.5 hours. Walk-in hours (for less than six people) are Wednesday and Thursday from 5-9 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. The cost is $20 per person for one hour. To learn more, visit www.axethrowingpgh.com.