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Urban axe-throwing trend hits the Northwest

Hurling hatchets for fun and competition is quickly growing in popularity

Choose your weapon! Then grab a cocktail. It’s all part of the urban axe-throwing fun at Axe Kickers in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Axe Kickers Seattle

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After this experience, darts just aren't going to cut it. Once players step up from tossing skinny, pointy tipped projectiles to hurling large axes at a round slab of wood on the wall, there's likely no going back.

Although plenty of participants wear flannel, the phenomenon isn't part of some one-off lumberjack festival. Across the country, the urban axe-throwing trend is -- sanely enough -- centered around drinking and partying with friends. Several multi-location chains now operate axe-throwing enterprises throughout the U.S.

Our area's first indoor axe-throwing spot is an independent outfit called Axe Kickers, located in White Center, about an hour drive north of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. An axe-throwing "range," Axe Kickers offers a generous 25 percent off prices for active-duty military personnel and veterans.

Since its opening in September, some 8,000 aspiring axe enthusiasts have checked out Axe Kickers, according to Dave Quinn, who runs the business with his son, Dan Quinn.

"This is definitely a great night out with friends, team building, bachelor(ette) party, birthday parties," noted Dave Quinn. " ... people are going nuts when they come in for a throwdown!"

Quinn said leagues are being formed, as well, due to the popularity and competitiveness of the pastime. While some of the national chains operate as bars and restaurants with space for axe throwing, Axe Kickers currently has no food or drink offerings. For $10 per group, you can bring in your own party supplies.

As for the rules of play, two players compete at a time, throwing five axes each per round at what looks like a larger, simplified version of a dart board featuring three concentric circles. Throwers earn one point for sticking the outer circle, three points for the next smallest and five for a bullseye in the small center ring. On the last throw of each round, a player can call "clutch" and try to place their blade between the two green dots near the top of the target, earning seven points if successful. The player with the most points wins each round. The best of three rounds takes axe-kicking honors.

How safe is this, you ask? The industrial-rustic space at Axe Kickers features concrete floors and a paneled wood interior with floor-to-ceiling, chain-link panels on either side of each throwing lane to stop any wayward shots. Rubberized mats below targets keep down the clanking, and staff provide instruction and coaching while constantly monitoring safety.

Reservations are required two hours in advance. However, walk-ins are welcome when space is available. Slots are available for groups of two to eight throwers, providing them exclusive access to one throwing lane with two targets.

Options for larger groups include the Big Party, which covers eight to 16 players using three lanes (a total of five targets); the Private Party booking gets a group of 16 to 50 folks private access to the whole space, five lanes and nine total targets.

Axe throwing is probably one of the oldest sports. What's new is the social/competitive business model. Among the first was Urban Axes, which started in Philadelphia after a local woman returned home after trying the sport in Canada in 2013. And while Axe Kickers was first to offer indoor axe throwing in our area, it's not alone.

Ninja Axe Throwing ( has its patrons and league members slinging hatchets in the large, outdoor space behind Ounce of Prevention, a bar and restaurant in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. Missouri-based chain Blade & Timber ( is slated to open in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood sometime early this year.

Axe Kickers, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with children allowed 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 10843 1st Ave. S., Seattle, 570.245.8361,

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