WESTBROOK, Maine — It’s the end of an unbearable day of work or school. You’re frustrated. You feel a deep need to chuck sharp objects across the room. You want the satisfaction of hearing them hit the wall. You’re sure it will make you feel better but there’s no way to know for sure without destroying your walls.
Now, there’s a place you can test that theory in relative safety.
Two weeks ago, Maine Warrior Gym on Spring Street in Westbrook, next to Husson College, opened Maine’s first ax-throwing range, The Axe Pit. Think of it as darts but with spinning hatchets. Instead of a cork dart board there’s a painted target on a row of 2×6 planks.
“It’s a great stress reliever,” said gym co-owner Tim Johnson. “You can get out a lot of aggression, especially with the room we have here. It makes a great sound when it thunks into the target.”
The range, which resembles a bowling lane, is encased in steel mesh. The wire prevents spectators from stray, bouncing axes. They don’t always stick.
Safety is important, said Johnson. Nobody gets to use the facility without a bit of instruction. No one under 18 can take part, and open-toed shoes are a no-no.
“It’s as easy and safe as playing darts, but far more satisfying,” according to the pit’s website.
According to a Washington Post story from last fall, the sport first twirled into the United States via Canada. It hit its first target in a former textile mill in Philadelphia. Then, it landed for a second time in Chicago.
Johnson said it’s more of a social activity than an actual fitness program. He likens it to mini golf and billiards. He’s hoping to attract couples on date night, as well as bachelor parties and companies looking for unique team-building exercises. He said they may expand to more lanes and start a formal competition if there’s enough interest. In preparation, the gym joined the World Axe Throwing League.
Hatchet-hurling is a good fit for the Maine Warrior Gym, said Johnson. It also offers “American Ninja Warrior” and “Jedi Arts” training. The gym boasts a 5,000 square-foot fitness obstacle course, too.
“Our goal and our mission is to embody that warrior philosophy,” said Johnson. “… And get you to step out of your comfort zone and do something you’re really not comfortable with — try something that’s a little frightening.”
You don’t need a plaid shirt and hipster cred to try ax throwing, either.
“It’s preferred,” said Johnson, stroking his whiskers and smiling. “But we do allow people without beards.”