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Axe Throwing So Popular In Chicago That Bad Axe Plans 2nd Spot In Lakeview

By Jessica Cabe | October 19, 2017 6:03am
 Given the success of its West Loop location, Bad Axe Throwing plans to open a spot in Lakeview, at 2828 N. Clark St., in December.
Bad Axe Throwing
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LAKEVIEW — When Melanie St-Amour tells people for the first time about urban axe throwing, reactions vary from excited interest to skepticism and even fear. Some people just aren't thrilled by the idea of chucking an axe into a wooden bullseye — like darts, but brawnier.

But the marketing and development coordinator for Bad Axe Throwing, which opened its first U.S. location in the West Loop a little more than a year ago, said the experience is the opposite of scary.

"It's totally safe, and it's actually a huge stress reliever," she said. "It's something that's really empowering once you get the hang of it, and you see people sort of have that 'a ha' moment once they finally stick that axe into the target."

Bad Axe Throwing has secured a lease at 2828 N. Clark St. for its second Chicago location, and St-Amour said the plan is to open sometime in December after all permits are acquired.

The Lakeview location, right on the border of Lincoln Park, will be the largest yet for the urban axe throwing company. At 6,000 square feet, the club will have 10 lanes with two targets each. That's a big increase from the West Loop's two lanes, but it's because the demand exists.

The West Loop "is by far the busiest location," out of seven in America, St-Amour said. "We were really surprised to see how busy our Chicago location was because people at first were kind of skeptical, and then it blew up."

Rendering of the Lakeview location of Bad Axe Throwing, 2828 N. Clark St., coming in December [Provided/Bad Axe Throwing]

St-Amour said Bad Axe Throwing plans to host a two-week open house in Lakeview to kick off its opening.

"Usually when we do a new location, we'll do a weekend, but this time we're going to do two weeks," she said. "People can come in and just watch if they want to stand on the sidelines and see what it's all about. If they want to try it, they can try it for free." 

Rendering of the Lakeview location of Bad Axe Throwing, 2828 N. Clark St., coming in December [Provided/Bad Axe Throwing]

After the two-week open house, people who want to try out urban axe throwing can pay $20 per hour for a walk-in session. Groups of eight or more will pay $44.25 per person for three hours, and groups of 35 or more will pay $35 per person for three hours. The activity is recommended for those 18 and older.

Coaches are always on hand to give lessons so newbies can try out various techniques, including two-handed, one-handed, overhand and underhand throws.

Guests try out urban axe throwing at Bad Axe Throwing's West Loop location. [Provided/Bad Axe Throwing]

Bad Axe Throwing opened its first location in Burlington, Ontario, in 2014 under CEO Mario Zelaya. Since then, the company has opened 15 locations across the United States and Canada, and it even founded the World Axe Throwing League with the mission of standardizing the sport of urban axe throwing with rules on which axes to use, scoring systems, distances from the target, etc.

In fact, the West Loop location will host a World Urban Axe Throwing League Championship in December featuring about 20 members from around the world.

"It's a lot of fun, and it's something that's totally different," St-Amour said. "It incorporates the same ideas as bowling, where you book a group in and you're assigned a lane, and there are points and there's a winner, and it incorporates certain things from darts, but it's something totally unique. It's a little bit different, a little bit edgy.

"Sometimes at first people are a little bit scared or nervous, but as soon as you hear that thud of the axe going into the target and sticking, there's this sense of empowerment."