Krista Paton was in Toronto, Canada, drinking wine and throwing axes when she thought to herself, “This is amazing. Why don’t we have these kinds of places in America?”
Two years later, in 2016, she and her business partners opened the first axe-throwing venue in the United States, Urban Axes.
Having previously lived in Philadelphia, Paton opened the first Urban Axes location there.
“I instantly knew people in Philly would love axe-throwing and needed it in their lives,” Paton said.
Urban Axes now has eight locations across the U.S., including the newest one that opened Friday in Sawyer Yards at 1201 Oliver St.
Paton said people are hungry for something to do with their friends that isn’t just going to a bar. People want to be entertained while having a beer instead of just having a beer.
Urban Axes’ Sawyer Heights location will have a bar that sells craft beer, wine and cider.
“Axe-throwing is this thing that feels delightfully forbidden, something you never knew you wanted to do, and maybe you feel like you shouldn’t be doing, but in a totally safe and controlled environment,” Paton said. “It’s got this primal appeal that is hard to substitute.”
The sport of axe-throwing has seen a growth in popularity, due to its new accessibility. And because it’s usually something no one has ever done, the participants are usually on a level playing field.
If you’re out bowling with friends and one or two have never played, it’s easy to guess who will win. But with axe-throwing, it’s more of a tossup.
“Most people haven’t been axe-throwing before, and it’s really anyone’s game, which makes it appealing to everyone,” Paton said.
The idea of throwing an axe and trying to hit a target can seem intimidating to some, but Paton said that it’s easy to learn, especially since Urban Axes has what Paton calls “axepert” coaches who can teach anyone. To perfect the sport is more complicated.
“For people that think they are going to be terrible, they are surprised at how much better they are than they thought,” Paton said. “That feeling of ‘Wow, I can actually do this.’ I think people are also surprised at how safe it actually is.”
Paton recommends booking a group event for a two-and-a-half-hour window. That may seem like a long time, but with the training, playing and a tournament at the end, it flies by.
Urban Axes is only for adults 21 and older.