No longer exclusive to lumberjack competitions and mountain fairs, the axe throwing craze touched down in Covington with the opening of Axe Town—a unique venue that offers patrons another welcomed entertainment outlet on The Square.
by Brian Knapp
The muffled thwacks of steel meeting wood greet visitors as they stroll along Church Street on The Square, the sun squeezing out its final minutes of daylight before setting on the mid-autumn horizon. Those distinct sounds interrupt the everyday hustle and bustle, informing anyone within earshot that the axe throwing craze has come to downtown Covington.
Axe Town—the brainchild of Jennifer and Danny Hartman and their business partners, Josh and Amber Foster—provides Square goers with a most unique entertainment option and a departure from the norm. On any given Friday or Saturday night, a line of axe throwers leaks out the front door and onto the sidewalk, yet another sign that a specialty sport once reserved for lumberjack competitions and mountain fairs has indeed reached the masses.
Into this setting walked newlyweds Matthew and Emmy Bradford, who fall somewhere between novice and expert on the axe throwing spectrum. Married in September, the couple discovered a date-night activity they may not have considered otherwise during a weekend trip to the North Georgia mountains a few years ago.
“It was up in the mountains in the bottom of a store,” Matthew said through a thick auburn beard. “They had an axe throwing place down there. I think we first went on a whim. We just saw a sign and said, ‘We’re going to do this. That looks like fun.’ What better thing can you do out and about on a trip to the mountains than throw axes?”
One session was enough. They were hooked. The experience was affordable, accessible and inherently enjoyable. Soon, the high school sweethearts noticed the axe throwing businesses that had sprung up closer to home—in Monroe, in Athens and now in Covington.
“Anybody can go in and throw, and once you get your toss down, it’s so much fun, because it’s just about the competition at that point.”Emmy Bradford
“It’s a level playing field,” Emmy said. “Anybody can go in and throw, and once you get your toss down, it’s so much fun, because it’s just about the competition at that point. You know in bowling that somebody’s going to roll it in the gutter every single time. Axe throwing is so much different. I thought it would be more difficult.”
At least in their social circles, axe throwing has started to replace the more traditional night-on-the-town entertainment options.
“Half the people I know at work have been,” Matthew said. “With date nights and double-date nights, I think it’s catching on. It’s different than the worn-out bowling or shooting pool somewhere. You don’t have to be strong or big or fast or good. Well, you’ve got to be good, but you don’t have to be strong or fast or anything like that. Anybody can do it.”
None of this surprises Hartman, who made a collaborative decision with her business partners to create Axe Town when she opened the Social Goat Tavern restaurant in the adjoining building.
“We did some research, and axe throwing seems to be the new thing if you look on your social media sites,” she said. “A lot of our friends were going to Athens and other places to do this. We just thought it would be something fun to bring here, and it seems to be a new trend.”
Construction began on Axe Town in July, and it opened for business in October. Those who visit Axe Town to throw are required to watch a short safety presentation. They are then assigned to a personal coach who teaches them the basics and remains with them for the duration of their stay. Once everyone gets up to speed, the competition begins.
“First, we’ll just teach you how to land the ax to the wood,” Hartman said. “Once you get that down, we start playing a few games. There’s a point system, kind of like darts on the target, where the closer you get to the bullseye, the higher the score. One of our most popular games is just like 21. If you bust, you have to go back [in the scoring].”
Axe Town opens its lanes to a variety of ages, starting with children as young as 10 and continuing up through senior citizens. Axe throwing, it seems, holds its appeal from one generation to the next.
“We’ve had some elderly people that have come in, and they’ve had a blast,” Hartman said. “I think it reminds them of their old days. I guess that’s what they used to do out [in the] backyard, or so they’ve said. One of them was like, ‘I used to do this with my grandpa.’ So, they love it.
“The main thing I want people to understand is that it doesn’t matter how physically fit you are,” she added. “It’s a place to hang out with your friends. It’s like a date night but a different atmosphere than just going to dinner [on The Square]. You can do something else now.”
For more information on Axe Town, visit Axe-Town.com or call 470-444-1351.