Richard N. Clark IV
When Dave Kelley began throwing hatchets over 15 years ago, he thought of it only as an “obscenely fun” pastime with friends and family—not a way to make money.
That is until recently, when Heber Hatchets Axe Throwing decided to open a sixth location in Spokane and was looking for a manager.
“(My friends and I) never really thought, ‘how could we do this for a living? How could you make a profit off of it?’” Kelley said. “Then lo-and-behold, these hatchet bars started popping up all around the country.”
Kelley, who teaches graphic design for North Idaho College during the school year and was looking for summer employment, said the job was a perfect fit.
“They needed someone that could not only run the shop but (who) could teach people to throw hatchets,” Kelley said.
While the rules at Heber Hatchets may be a little different from what Kelley is experienced with, the thrill of throwing hatchets is just the same he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s just fun,” Kelley said.
Once you’ve signed the waivers, acknowledging that throwing sharp objects is inherently dangerous (who knew?), a lumberjack or lumberjill will give a safety briefing and show how to best throw the axe.
After the clerical work, you have the option of playing a variety of “lumberjack games.” Each game offers a different set of rules which, you guessed it, involve throwing an axe at a wooden target to stick it and score points.
Jon Franks, a Spokane resident, said he had no clue what axe throwing would be like, but it sounded fun.
“Having watched many movies and played many video games, I was like ‘let me give this a shot,’” Franks said.
Franks said there is actually a technique to having the hatchet stick, unlike darts.
“It took us about 20-25 minutes to figure it out,” Franks said. “Now we are getting pretty good at it.”
Franks said his favorite part was just throwing an axe, and that he really enjoyed the customer service.
“This was the best spontaneous day ever,” Franks said. “(Kelley) was really friendly (and) really accommodating. He was able to explain everything to us. He did fantastic with helping us out.”
Kelley said he enjoys teaching people to throw axes, and that watching people learn is a fulfilling experience.
“They may be a little cautious … and then it clicks for them … they find their spot, then they’re having fun. They’re doing something that they had no idea they would be doing … and having success,” Kelley said.
Kelley said the overall throwing technique is probably the most challenging part for people.
“It’s kind of like a golf swing,” Kelley said. “You don’t want to get too much in your head. You just want it to be a nice, natural thing that you do.”
While the competition is a big part of axe throwing, Kelley said that it’s just fun to do.
“I guess the bottom line is it’s just a fun hobby,” Kelley said. “It just happens to be slightly dangerous.”
As the demand for axe throwing grows, Heber Hatchets is set to grow with it.
Kelley said Heber Hatchets plans to create an axe throwing league, similar to a local bowling league, and will host competitions in the future.
Other than wearing closed-toed shoes, the only requirement is signing the safety consent forms, but it’s suggested that you wear clothes you’re comfortable moving around in.
While axe throwing is a family-friendly activity, it’s recommended that throwers be over the age of 11, according to Heber Hatchets’ website. If you are under the age of 18, you will need a parent or guardian to sign your consent forms.
While the venue lets you bring food, it does not serve or allow alcohol or have food for sale. Guests can schedule events online at heberhatchets.com/axe-throwing-spokane/ or call 509-990-8325.
If you have to axe, Heber Hatchets is located at 2015 N. Division St., Suite B, Spokane.
All prices are “per hour”
1–3 people = $15/person
4–7 people = $12/person
8+ people = $10/person