Every sport has a particular sound that hits just the right note in a fan’s brain. The crack of a wooden bat against a well-hit baseball. The siren going off after the puck slips past a goaltender. The swish of a basketball hitting nothing but net.
In axe-throwing, it’s somewhere between a “thwack!” and a “thud.”
When you get it, though—especially after throwing a few that clatter off the softwood pine targets onto the floor—it is deeply satisfying.
Not that axe-throwing is a full-fledged sport just yet, at least not here. (It is in Canada.) But Corey Deasy thinks it’s ready to take off in America very soon. His throwing club, LumberjAxes, opens officially in Millvale on August 18.
Deasy sees parallels with the “Escape Room” phenomenon, where he also got in on the ground floor.
“When I opened it [The Escape Room in Greenfield] in 2014, there were fewer than 10 in the whole country,” says Deasy. “Now there are a few thousand. There are fewer than 10 axe-throwing places in the country right now.”
One has already opened in Western Pennsylvania: Valhalla Indoor Axe Throwing, in Jeannette, Westmoreland County. They’ve taken the Viking theme.
Though LumberjAxes obviously touts a lumberjack motif, this isn’t just a game for barrel-chested beard-growers. In fact, the most surprising thing is how easy it is. It’s like throwing darts. Very big, dangerous-looking darts that don’t fly straight.
“My wife was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant and almost won the tournament,” says Deasy, of their first attempt in Philadelphia.
The 6,000-square-foot building is well off the main drag in Millvale, though the giant steelworker mural—formerly home to Red Star Ironworks—is easy to spot. It’s also not far from Grist House Craft Brewery.
It can host 120-150 people, so team building events and large parties can be accommodated. If you have a big group, LumberjAxes will set up a single-elimination tournament.
The axes are even manageable in a smaller person’s hands—they could also be described as hatchets. There’s a very specific, two-handed throwing motion, that takes advantage of the thrower’s momentum instead of sheer arm strength.
All participants must be 18. Oh, and don’t wear open-toe shoes.
Group sessions are $35 per person for a 2.5-hour block. Walk-ins will be able to try it out during certain hours, too.
LumberjAxes is shooting for a late-August opening. The biggest challenge is training axe-throwing staff, because there aren’t a lot of people with experience doing that, Deasy says.
Eventually, the plan is to add more sharp things to throw to see what sticks: knives, throwing stars, Batman “Batarangs” and even razor-edged playing cards.
LumberjAxes plan to join the National Axe Throwing Federation, and one day send players to tournaments to represent Pittsburgh.