The loud thud of axes slamming against wooden boards greeted visitors to Craft Axe Throwing for the first time Thursday evening.
The new business near 18th and N streets gives customers a clear lane with a target at the end — similar to a dart board — and an ax to throw. And if you want a beer, you can have that, too.
Co-owner Travis Cornelius, who is part of the group that also founded the Lincoln Escape Room, said he's always looking at the recent trends to bring them to Lincoln.
"Growing up in Lincoln and going to high school here, people always say, 'There is nothing to do here,' and we are always looking for the big trends in bigger cities," Cornelius said. "First it was escape rooms, so we brought those back to this city, and ax-throwing bars are the next big thing."
Due to the nature of the business, and with alcohol being sold just a few steps away from the flying axes, safety is a major focus, with warning plaques posted at each of the 14 throwing lanes.
Hooks are also located in each lane for the axes, and they cannot be brought out of the throwing area. And — this part is key — touching the extremely sharp blades is prohibited.
The axes can also bounce, meaning customers must make sure the ax has stopped moving before stepping into the throwing area to retrieve it.
Different types of games give customers a wide range of challenges, with a high-score game similar to darts, "around the target," which challenges players to hit all the targets in any order, and "11," which is a challenge to get 11 points without going over.
Cornelius said the response he had from customers was overwhelmingly positive.
"I think they really like it, it is something old-school, but it is still new," Cornelius said. "It's a new thing to do in the city of Lincoln, and it seems like everyone is enjoying their time."
Another ax-throwing business in downtown Lincoln, Tomahawks, is also working on getting its liquor license. But the Lincoln City Council voted 4-2 earlier this month to recommend the state commission deny a liquor license to the business because two of the three owners failed to report multiple criminal convictions on the liquor license application.
Olivia German, who is the general manager at Craft Axe Throwing, said throwing axes is a great way to blow off steam and have fun.
"It is so fun, it's great for letting out some steam, and it's even a great way to buff up your shoulders," German said.
The business offers 14- and 16-inch axes, with different weights and rotational patterns. German said she prefers to throw with the longer axes because the weight helps keep the rotation stable.
Rusty Carnes, who was at Craft Axe Throwing on Thursday to celebrate his son's 28th birthday, said he preferred the shorter axes.
"It is very fun, and it gives you a real adrenaline rush," Carnes said. "At first you don't know what you are doing, but once you start catching on you get really into it."
Carnes said the family had originally bought just an hour for $20, but quickly decided to add a second hour.
Betty Johnson, another customer, said the experience was exciting and unique.
Johnson said that while she was still struggling to get the ax to stick to the wall, it was still a fun time.
And even though there is an element of challenge to it, German said hitting bull's-eyes is a possibility within a half-hour.
"It is about the speed that you throw the ax at and how you aim it," Johnson said.
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