It’s not every day you get a chance to scoop your freshly amputated toes off the ground and hobble into an ER, a long trail of blood dripping behind you.
That might be your nightmare vision when you learn about Social Axe Throwing, Salt Lake City’s contribution to a rapidly growing trend in indoor group recreation. But its founders — who already have a location in Ogden — swear that no one has lost any blood.
Otherwise, it’s just like it sounds — a bunch of people get together in a room and toss sharp axes at wooden targets for the sheer thrill of it. Kind of like bowling, only with potentially deadly airborne objects.
“Because axes are awesome,” Floyd says. “It’s like darts on steroids. There’s no way to explain how cool it is to take a footlong ax and stick it in a bull’s-eye.”
Floyd went online and discovered that indoor ax-throwing is a thing, a fast-spreading sports/entertainment concept that began in Canada in 2011, catering to people who want a unique place to hold birthday and bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate team-building outings, and date nights more interesting than dinner-and-a-movie.
They’ll also host divorce/breakup parties, which requires the question: Could someone whose marriage ended ugly pin a photo of their ex in the bull’s-eye for some added target-hitting inspiration?
“We’ve had requests for that,” said Brayden Floyd’s dad and co-owner, Mark Floyd. “But because we don’t know both sides of the story, we’ve chosen not to go down that avenue. We had zombie photos around Halloween and did a zombie kill event, but I’d probably frown on that.”
Floyd estimates his Ogden location was one of the first 15 to open in America. Ax-throwing establishments are now in most major cities, and more open each month, with names like Stumpy’s Hatchet House, Bad Axe Throwing, Bury the Hatchet and Riot Axe. There’s even a National Axe Throwing Federation in Canada that sponsors tournaments and championships.
At the new Salt Lake Social Axe Throwing — a 4,000-square-foot converted steel fabrication shop at 1154 S. 300 West — you’ll pay $15 per person for one hour. Groups of six or more pay $30 per person for a two-hour block.
As with darts, your score is determined by how close you hit the bull’s-eye. Play can get intense, but it’s a great stress reliever, and once you have a couple of beers in you, it’ll be even —
“It’s the question everybody asks when they come in,” said co-owner Steve Lister. The plan is to apply for a beer license and serve food in the Salt Lake location.
In Ogden, they serve food and soda, and would’ve applied for a beer license if they had paid more attention to how close the address was to the Mormon temple.
“Nobody has been injured at our Ogden location,” said Mark Floyd. “We take safety very seriously. We have yet to lose any blood, and I hope we never do.”
All hardwood hurlers have to go through a few basic safety lessons before they start throwing. After that, they learn technique — don’t throw the ax like a football or baseball; instead, hold it by the base of the handle, aim the blade at the target, raise it back behind your head and bring it around in a circle. Make sure to follow through, so your arm ends behind your back.
Once you have the rules down and your throwing form perfected, there’s nothing like the rush and bonding experience of chucking sharp steel blades into hard wooden targets.
“It makes you feel liberated,” says Brayden Floyd. “There are 30 people in our league in Ogden, and they’ll get five or six people together who don’t know each other. At the end, everyone is best friends and they’re going out to dinner afterwards. The appeal is the fun, the thrill and the camaraderie.”