It’s hard to explain, but there’s a real rush when you hold an axe in your hands, prepare your swing and then hurl the axe at the target.
Life becomes a slow-motion film as you watch the axe sail toward its destination, the blade catches the wood and it sticks. Victory.
There are other games where we throw things at targets, like darts or even bowling. Hitting the mark on those is satisfying, but it’s not throwing an axe. No, this is more primal and real. It somehow connects us to our hunter-gatherer ancestors and allows us to feel like we can accomplish anything we determine to do.
The axe as a weapon has been used for centuries, but we’re more likely to associate it with farm life, wood stoves and chopping down our own Christmas tree in the woods.
So why the sweeping popularity of axe throwing? Oregon Axe owners Timothy and Jenny Stemmerman say it’s because most people are amazed at how quickly they can pick it up.
“We like to say it’s like darts, but fun,” Timothy Stemmerman says. “All kinds of people come axe throwing, from kids as young as 12 years old to people in their 80s.”
Axe throwing is all about that “sweet release,” he says. “There is something primal in all of us that when we hear the sound of the axe sticking in the wood, it makes you excited. That ‘I just stuck it’ feeling is addictive.”
Stemmerman says axe throwing is a great low-impact exercise, and can even be done by someone in a wheelchair.
“You can pick it up quickly and with no experience and have a good time without exerting a ton of energy,” he says.
Oregon Axe features three “cubes,” each with two throwing lanes. Before you even pick up an axe, “axperts” review the rules and guidelines, as well as some throwing techniques. They stress that no open-toed shoes or heels are allowed in the throwing lanes. The axes are small enough to be handled and can be thrown one- or two-handed.
Once you’ve completed your training, Oregon Axe recommends several games to play with the axes, either individually or in groups up to 10 members. The owners often host parties for businesses, friends and other social gatherings.
Oregon Axe opened its first location in Springfield in 2018, along with an escape room, and have only seen their business grow and thrive. The business operates out of the old Booth Kelly lumber mill, with plenty of parking. The Salem location is just north of downtown, less than a half-block from the Marion Street Parkade. Business hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, and parking is free on the street after 5 p.m.
So, if January’s weather is less than ideal, but you still need an outing with friends, you must try axe throwing. You’re welcome to bring your own food, but drinks must be purchased onsite. There is a two-drink maximum for alcoholic drinks.
Reserve your time at oregonaxethrowing.com. Cost is $25 per person for 90 minutes if reserved online; $30 if you reserve onsite. All participants must sign a waiver. Call 541-726-3836 for more information.