It's hard to look like an axe-wielding bad*ss when you cringe every time the cold metal of the hatchet rests against your back. Maybe I read too many outdoorsy, coming-of-age books in middle school English, but it's taking me some time to get comfortable hurling axes at a wooden bullseye. Even after a hearty glug of the bar's finest bottled Chardonnay.
Yes, bar. I'm not in the backwoods of Virginia; this is Kick Axe, a bar in Brooklyn that specializes in letting people get in touch with their inner Paul Bunyan by throwing hatchets. Consider it a new twist on the humdrum night out. Ladies, forget paint-your-own-pottery or drink & draw classes; it's time to get an axe to grind!
As crazy as it sounds to combine alcohol and sharp objects, the bar takes safety very seriously, having an "axpert" with you at all times while you're there. (You can't drink while you're throwing, for example, there's no hard liquor served - just beer, wine, and snacks - and if employees deem you're drinking too much, you're out.)
BOOK YOUR TRIP: Kick Axe Throwing, tripadvisor.com
My axpert, Edan Chen-Zion, is a video editor by day, urban lumberjack by night. After going over the rules, he gives me a quick demo, correcting my form. Kick Axe recommends throwing overhead, keeping both hands on the handle of the axe - one over the other - and pulling your arms so far back that the butt of the hatchet nearly touches your back. (Hence my paranoia the first time, when I pull back too far and suddenly feel cold metal gently touching my shoulder blades.) You shift your weight as you hurl the axe over your head, letting go of it just as your hands are at forehead level.
My first axe slams against the bullseye, dead center - only to clatter to the ground pathetically. My spin was off!
Again, I tried. And again. And again. After 15 minutes, I worried Chen-Zion would give me the axe, but he remained surprisingly patient.
"You need more of a rotation as you're throwing it," he explained. "Flick your wrists downward as you let go."
There was a lot more to this than it looked. At least, there was for me. When my colleague, Danielle Jackson, stopped by, she landed her first axe on the board. No sweat.
Turns out, it's a lot like learning to dance. There's a certain rhythm you learn, throw after throw, until you start to understand how much force and movement you need to nail each bullseye. And when you land one dead center, you feel unstoppable.
"That one time that it sticks, that's the rush you need to carry you through all the failures," Chen-Zion agreed.
Kick Axe has only been open a few months, but the bar already has plans to open in five major cities: Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Each 80-minute session will set you back $35 a person, but I have to be honest - when you're looking to break out of your movie/dinner/Netflix rut, there's nothing like it.
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