As the late summer sun begins to set, some people in Gowanus want nothing more than a drink and an axe to throw. And the bar aptly named “Kick Axe Throwing Brooklyn” on Degraw Street is just the place.
Inside, the thwacks and ringing metallic sounds of axes piercing wooden targets (or failing abysmally to do so and falling with a clatter) serve as the venue’s soundtrack. For $35 per person, patrons get 75 minutes of pure axe-throwing experience. The first few minutes consist of learning the basics with an experienced instructor (or “axe-pert”). Because there are many things that could go wrong from the combination of beer drinking and weapon-wielding, safety instructions and guidelines are perhaps essential in this venue.
The bar area, appropriately decorated with black leather couches and plaid accented chairs, is segregated from the axe-throwing ranges. Across the gas fireplace is a cozy lounge corner where animal-skin rugs, cow-patterned seats, and a snowy forest backdrop creates an immersive lodge-like atmosphere. Deer mounts stare out from the walls. After all, nothing completes a rustic, lodge-theme decor quite like classic taxidermy.
The axe-throwing aspect is not so easy. “It’s kind of a workout, probably a little harder than it looks,” said Jenny Ng, a 27-year-old who is visiting from the United Kingdom. Her only previous experience with throwing axes was when she attended a friend’s birthday at a similar venue back in London. After that, she was hooked. Once she found out that there is an axe-throwing bar in New York, she convinced her partner to bring her to Gowanus for a second experience. “I always wanted to do it again,” she said.
Most other axe-throwers tonight are dressed for the part in plaid and flannel shirts, which could be the venue’s official dress code. Ng, on the other hand, stands out, as she is dressed in an all-black jumpsuit, with a bejeweled Yves Saint Laurent chain wallet across her shoulder. With both hands tightly gripping an axe, Ng eyes the red target that’s about eight feet away. She gradually lifts the axe back over her head and folds her thumbs over her fist. As she speedily releases the axe forward towards the wall, Ng lets out a faint squeal. She missed. Her axe failed to pierce the wooden circular target and falls awkwardly to the ground.
Kick Axe Throwing Brooklyn, which has been featured in Hollywood television series like “Younger” and attended by the likes of Hillary Duff, has become something of a must-visit for visitors to the borough. And with a CrossFit gym and a rock climbing facility right on the same block, the axe-throwing bar is just a small part of Gowanus’ growing list of athletic recreational venues.
For Ng, spending an evening throwing axes is a nice change of pace. “Obviously, I’m not really a natural at this. But it’s really satisfying when you manage to do it,” she said.
With her right foot forward, Ng pulls an axe back behind her head for another attempt. She takes a deep breath, lines up her shot, and releases. The sharp metal sinks into an outer ring, and she scores a point. Her axe didn’t exactly hit the bull’s-eye, but it was good enough for her.
“That was so satisfying,” she exclaims.