Ryan Henrich picks up a three-pound ax, lifts it high over his head and lobs it at a target a dozen feet away. Bull’s-eye.
But he’s had a little practice.
Henrich, a partner behind one of Kansas City’s first escape rooms, Breakout KC, started testing the ax-throwing concept at the company’s Kansas City, Kan., headquarters and research and development facility a year ago with his employees.
Now Henrich and Matt Baysinger have opened Blade & Timber at 1101 Mulberry St. in the West Bottoms.
“Blade & Timber is a place you can come with friends and family and throw axes and be competitive with one another and compete for points,” Henrich said.
Players enter a lane — sides are made of wood and chain link fence for protection. They grip the ax handle, thumb over thumb like they would a golf club, lifting it above their head and then lean in with their body as they aim for the target, about 12 to 15 feet away. Just like in darts, they want to make a bull’s-eye.
Blade & Timber charges $20 an hour for one player but discounts are available the more people who play and the longer they play. Ax-throwing coaches are on hand to help beginners and other customers improve their performance.
Henrich said his 57-year-old mother, Kate, “loved it, once she had the coaching.”
Six lanes are currently open and four more will be added by the end of the month. Blade & Timber is now signing people up to compete in the World Axe Throwing League.
The owners also have applied for a liquor license to sell beer, and customers can bring in their own food. It has seating at community tables and sofas, along with TVs for sports games and other events, including the Timbersports World Championship games.
“They have the haunted houses down here but we wanted to bring another form of entertainment,” Henrich said. “It’s an area of town that’s really being revitalized and just a lot of cool stuff is happening down here so we wanted to be in the middle of that.”
Ax throwing centers are popular in other countries, including Canada — so much so that some companies consider it over-saturated so they are now expanding in the United States.