If you’re looking to embrace your inner Viking warrior or just work off a little steam, ax throwing may be the sport for you.
Axe bars — where customers come in and hurl axes at bulls eyes painted on plywood targets — have opened across the country and across Iowa over the last few years, including Hatchet Jack’s, which opened in Iowa City in 2018.
Now the trend has arrived in Cedar Rapids. Nathan and Sam Tvedt opened Civil Axe Throwing, at 375 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, a few weeks ago, and Mark Mayfield and Paul Farmer are planning to open Hurling Hatchet at 576 Boyson Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids, later this summer.
“It’s just a good way for people to come together and hang out,” Nathan Tvedt said. “It’s thrilling, it’s something not a lot of people get to do these days … I think people like the uniqueness of it.”
Nathan Tvedt said opening during a pandemic wasn’t part of their plan, but it has given them a chance to slowly ramp up their customer base.
“We signed the lease right before COVID happened, but we decided we’re locked into this thing, and as soon as we were allowed to legally open, we did,” he said. “We’re at half capacity, doing everything we can to keep the space safe. We sanitize the axes and frequently touched items. No two lanes next to each other are occupied at the same time.”
For now they don’t have a bar, but customers can bring in their own beer, or order from Giana’s Italian Beef next door, which recently got a liquor license. Axe throwers must be ages 16 and over.
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On arrival, ax throwing coaches — the call them “axperts” will show people how to safely throw an ax and different games they can play.
“It’s a really good feeling, you feel like you’re a movie actor throwing an ax at something,” Tvedt said.
The Tvedts are local owners of a national franchise — Civil Axe Throwing locations can be found across the country. Tvedt said the name appeals to him.
“We saw the irony of the name,” he said. “Throwing an ax is perceived as a barbaric behavior. It’s a civil way of engaging in this barbaric behavior, which is a lot of fun.”
For Mayfield and Farmer, bringing the Hurling Hatchet to Cedar Rapids — they hope to open in July — made good business sense.
They already opened an ax bar of the same name in Cedar Falls last September, and they had so many customers driving up from Cedar Rapids they saw an opportunity to expand into a new market.
“Our goal is to provide fun experiences for adults and kids alike,” Mayfield said. “It’s something else to do besides just going to a movie or a bar or out to eat.”
He hadn’t even heard of ax throwing as an activity until a friend of his opened an ax bar in Virginia. He and Farmer decided to bring the concept to Iowa before they had even tried the activity.
“I had never thrown an ax before, and neither had Paul. We just started doing research,” he said. “My wife even asked me, ‘What if you don’t like ax throwing?’ I was like, who wouldn’t like throwing axes?”
They went to some existing ax bars and did, indeed, like it. Mayfield has since gotten so into it that he throws competitively, as part of the World Axe Throwing League.
Once Hurling Hatchet opens, people will be able to make a reservation online for a lane. The business plans to sell beer by the can. It will not have age restrictions to participate.
“We can have any age, as long as their parents are comfortable,” Mayfield said. “We have safety lines marked on the floor; fences between the lanes. Our ax coaches are very diligent to make sure everyone being safe. Axe throwing is very safe, no matter what anybody thinks. It’s ax catching that is dangerous.”
He said the activity is satisfying, whether someone is hitting bulls eyes or even just the board.
“The feeling is amazing,” he said. “Throwing an ax is a stress reliever.”
When the bar opens, they have plans in place for safety during the coronavirus pandemic, including keeping it at half capacity, spacing out groups and sanitizing axes and surfaces in between parties.
“You can throw an ax with a mask on, I promise,” Mayfield said.
If You Go
l What: Civil Axe Throwing
l Where: 375 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
l When: 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 3 p.m. to midnight Friday and noon to midnight Saturday
l Details: (319) 214-3855, civilaxethrowing.com/cedar-rapids
l What: Hurling Hatchet
l Where: 576 Boyson Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
l When: Hoping to open in July
l Details: (319) 575-4847, hurlinghatchet.com
Comments: (319) 398-8339; firstname.lastname@example.org