Now I know: I was born to hurl a deadly object through the air and rejoice in the satisfying smack of the blade hitting the target. It is exhilarating.
I nailed the bullseye, a red circle with the circumference of a grapefruit, on my first throw at Hurling Hatchets (702 S. Main Street, St. 5B, Moab), a business that invites the public to “release your inner warrior battling against your friends and family through axe-throwing games taught by the pros.”
As with games of darts, there are different ways to structure games of hatchet hurling, all involving tests of aim and strength as well as psychological steadiness (don’t let your opponent psych you out!).
My “opponent” in my first-ever game was my son, Cyrus, who was more coach than foe; he had thrown before with his Scouts troop and had some good pointers. We opted for a simple game wherein we aimed for the bullseye but felt happy if we hit the target at all.
Before we began, Hurling Hatchets manager DuVal King gave us a tutorial on form and scoring – as well as the ever-important hatchet safety – and then supervised our throws. We started by throwing some smaller, lightweight axes that King said are good for “learning the ropes” as well as for younger players or anyone who doesn’t want to throw the full-sized axes.
“Those axes are heavy even for adults,” King said.
For safety, all throwing is done in walled lanes, with players each throwing to hit a separate target in that lane. The lanes in Hurling Hatchets have a Mighty Five National Parks theme, with each lane named after a different park. We played in the Canyonlands lane.
Players throw together and retrieve together – an absolutely essential safety measure – and keep hands off the sharp edge when handling or passing a hatchet.
My initial success proved to be a bit of beginner’s luck as later throws sank into the wooden target board far from the center, some not even sticking at all but bouncing to the floor of the throwing lane, especially when I switched to using the full-sized axes.
King advised me, as he does all players, to “have intention” in my throw. He also suggested conceptualizing the target as an aspect of my life that I would like to change.
“Focus on that,” he said, “and use that hatchet as a way to break through it and move past it.”
Throwing this way, I will attest, can be therapeutic.
For the next while, Cyrus and I threw and collected our axes, until the scoreboard was full. He beat me fair and square by a wide margin.
Talking with King after our game, he discussed the growing popularity of the sport.
“Hatchet throwing has become kind of a phenomenon,” he said. “It’s something friends might do on a regular basis.”
King said he threw hatchets for fun as a kid on his grandfather’s farm, but he is fairly new to the more organized sport of indoor hatchet throwing and started managing Hurling Hatchets just a few months ago.
Hurling Hatchets is affiliated with the World Axe Throwing League, an association of indoor axe-throwing companies dedicated to promoting the sport that aims to see it standardized with official league rules, points tracking system, safety protocols and axe-throwing techniques. There are currently more than 330 affiliates throughout the world, primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Typically, numerous tournaments are held at affiliate establishments throughout the year.
King said Hurling Hatchets will be forming hatchet-throwing leagues later this month, which could enter tournament competitions, and encouraged anyone 18+ to consider joining.
For those wanting to give hatchet-throwing a try, King said Hurling Hatchets is also accepting Buy Local Bucks distributed in the area by the City of Moab. While a one-hour session is typically priced at $18.39 per person and a two-hour session at $32.19, King said Hurling Hatchets will accept one $15 Buy Local Bucks voucher as full payment for a one-hour session during regular business hours.
King said Hurling Hatchets is something fun for locals to do during the winter months, and expects more tourists will also give it a try when visitation picks up in the spring. Safe distancing and masks are required.
Regular business hours are 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. However, King said, the business is friendly to large private parties and can accommodate other hours.
For more information, go to www.hurlinghatchetsmoab.com or call Hurling Hatchets at 435-355-0656.