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Axe Monkeys teaches Las Vegas the art of axe throwing

There are sounds that can instantly elicit feelings of satisfaction, of contentment, even of peace.

A baby’s cooing. A kitten’s mewling. The clean, quick thud of an ax blade sinking itself solidly into a thick disc of wood.

If you’re looking for that baby cooing, kitten mewling thing, you’re on your own. But if you’re into that ax blade thing and enjoy doing unusual things with nonculinary cutlery, Axe Monkeys Las Vegas may be your kind of place.

The business officially opened its doors to customers Thursday at 3525 E. Post Road, Suite 110. While a grand opening is planned for March, Axe Monkeys Las Vegas now can accommodate target sport enthusiasts, aspiring lumberjacks and anybody else who has always wanted to do things with axes that summer camp Scoutmasters never, ever would allow.

The facility has nearly two dozen lanes’ worth of ax-awaiting targets, separated from each other and spectators by chain link fences. There also are three party rooms, a booming sound system and a fun, bowling alley-meets-“Game of Thrones” vibe.

While recreational ax-throwing is new to Las Vegas — and, indeed, to most of America — Mike Hoover, Axe Monkeys operating manager, said it has become a popular recreational activity in Canada, Japan and other countries during the past several years.

Certainly, part of the appeal is the basic satisfaction humans receive from throwing something and hitting a target. Surely, the thrill of competition has something to do with it. But let’s be honest here: It’s mostly just the fun and cheap thrill of flinging a sharp object at something that won’t get hurt.

“It’s really visceral. There’s a very primal component to taking a sharp ax and just hurling it at a chunk of wood,” said Miranda Boyd, who hurled her first ax less than a week ago, after she landed a job at Axe Monkeys.

“And whether or not it goes in, the sound of it hitting that wood is very satisfying. When it just sticks there, it’s also satisfying. All you want to do is go and grab that ax and throw it again and again.”


 

Beginners — that is, just about everybody who walks in — will start with lessons in safety and technique. Beginners are taught a two-handed grip to combine with an overhand throw, although some eventually will feel more comfortable using a one-handed overhand throw or even an underhand throw.

In any case, the goal is to make the ax rotate only once and sink itself cleanly in the target 15 feet away. Throw too hard and the ax will over-rotate and bounce off of the target. Extend your arm incorrectly and the ax also will miss or bounce.

“At first it was harder than I thought it would be,” said newbie Taylor Rankin. “I don’t think I knew what to expect. I thought it would be fun. But there’s a lot of technique involved.”

Hoover said about 60 percent of customers at Axe Monkeys’ sister location in British Columbia, Canada, are women, “and, as much as I hate to say it, women do better because they take direction better.

“What I find is, guys get here and try to compete with each other or try to show off to women or their friends. So they try to throw a little bit harder, where women typically will be more focused on the details, more on technique.”

Hoover said the axes guests will use weigh about 1½ pounds. However, more experienced throwers will be able to choose from a supply of knives, throwing stars, tactical tomahawks, shogun axes and other throwing implements Axe Monkeys Las Vegas stocks.

Hoover said Axe Monkeys’ Canadian branch has hosted throwers ranging in age from 7 to a 90-year-old woman who used a walker. He expects a similarly diverse clientele here. And, while walk-ins are accepted, it’s suggested that advance bookings be made through the website, www.axemonkeys.com.

Boy Scout troops are regulars in Canada, he said, and throwers here likely will include Renaissance fair fans — many of whom learned ax-throwing as part of their Renaissance re-creation efforts — and history buffs who are intrigued by historical weapons.

Hoover said there also are plans to host leagues in which teams of throwers will compete against each other, and even live simulcast competitions against teams from Canada and other countries.

Axe Monkeys Las Vegas even will host parties, although Hoover said anybody who imbibes will be kept axless. In Canada, “we get birthday parties and we get divorce parties,” he said.

Divorce parties? Don’t worry, said Ryan Chamberlain, an Axe Monkeys Las Vegas co-owner. It’s’s nothing sinister or violent, but merely a way for the newly divorced to celebrate their marital unsevering and “make light of a serious situation.”

Read more from John Przybys at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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