Bellingham AXE, a competitive axe throwing venue, is set to bring the activity to downtown Bellingham late February 2020. The sport, at its core, is as simple as it sounds; you throw an axe at a dartboard-style target in an attempt to hit the bull’s-eye as accurately as possible.
Initially introduced to the U.S. in 2008, axe throwing has exploded in popularity across the country with over 300 venues open nationally. With two other axe throwing venues located in Seattle, Bellingham AXE intends to introduce the popular pastime to Whatcom residents at 1414 Cornwall Ave.
Owner Matt Kinney said a lack of axe-throwing venues in the area prompted him to fill the niche.
“There’s a lot of coffee shops, there’s a lot of breweries, you know, and I’m like, ‘God! There’s no axe!’” said Kinney. “Once I saw this spot, I was like, ‘this is it.’”
Kinney said he’s focused on attracting Western students with a venue that provides an alternative to the bar culture that makes up a large section of Bellingham’s nightlife.
“I would like to make it fun, family oriented for most hours, but maybe change the age limit to 18 at a certain time of day,” said Kinney. “I saw that kids in dorms don’t have anything to do. It’s all bars. So, you hit a certain time, all your friends leave. Well now you can be in the heart of it down here, a way to get out the door.”
Despite axe throwing’s identity as a bar game, Bellingham AXE will not be able to directly serve alcohol once it opens. Due to technicalities with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Kinney said alcohol is in a gray area.
Daniel Quinn, owner of Axe Kickers, the first axe throwing venue to open in Washington state, explained the appeal of competitive axe throwing.
“It’s a pretty addictive feeling. Once you feel the axe sticking to the wood, it’s very satisfying,” Quinn said.
Competitive axe throwing is described as “easy to learn, hard to master” according to Quinn, with competitors as young as six and as old as 80 partaking in the sport. Bellingham AXE intends to provide an atmosphere for beginner and advanced axe throwers.
Kinney said that axe throwing is a logical addition to Bellingham’s available pastimes.
“Everybody around here likes mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, those types of sports, and I think axe throwing is a really good fit,” Kinney said. “When you hear it hit the wood and you got a bull’s-eye, it’s a pretty great feeling.”
Quinn said despite how dangerous it sounds, axe throwing in a venue like this is completely safe.
“We’re really involved in the axe community, so we take pride in everything we do,” Quinn said. “We make sure everyone is throwing with the proper technique to make sure it's going exactly as it should and that everyone has the best experience possible.”
Students such as Sophie Pappalau are a bit more suspicious.
“I don’t know. It could be exciting to some people. You know, it's like a gimmick. You go and only do it one time,” said Pappalau.
Kinney said axe throwing is a sport for anyone to get involved in regardless of the stereotypes surrounding it.
“You don’t need a shield or a beard, or you don’t have to cut down trees,” Kinney said. “It’s really for everyone.”