Ax throwing gains in popularity as pastime, sport

Leave it to the hipsters of Brooklyn to combine craft beer and sharp objects.

Kick Axe Throwing is the first bar in New York City to pick up on a nationwide trend of ax throwing, a growing sport that some enthusiasts hope will take off the way bowling did in the last century.

"People are like, 'Sharp objects and beer? What a great idea that is.' But truthfully, after you have a couple drinks you start to actually throw a little bit better," said Alexander Stine, an "axepert" at Kick Axe. He honed his own skills growing up in Colorado throwing knives at carnivals and now trains newcomers on proper technique. "It's about believing in your ability to do something you didn't think you could do before."

Scoring is similar to darts. Players aim at a wooden board painted with a bull's-eye and rings corresponding to different point values.

Playing to the sport's origins at Canadian logging competitions, Kick Axe's decor is reminiscent of a ski lodge, complete with flannel chairs and calfskin carpeting.

The perimeter of the venue is lined with cages for throwing. There's a bar serving wine and beer, but no hard liquor. Guests can take a break from throwing axes to play board games like "Candy Land" at tables in the center of the room.

While Kick Axe mainly caters to casual players, there are locations across the country where enthusiasts play the sport competitively.

There was no alcohol in sight during recent tournament play at Chicago's Bad Axe Throwing, a Canada-based chain of 18 venues.

Bad Axe's CEO, Mario Zelaya, founded the World Axe Throwing League a year ago. He said it now has 2,500 members worldwide who compete at his own locations and other independent venues.

"It's bowling 2.0," said Zelaya. "What bowling maybe used to be in the 80's and 90's and this is what ax throwing is right now. It's fun. It's new. It's addictive. It's active entertainment."

The World Axe Throwing League held its first world championship tournament in December. Competitors played in their home courts and the games were broadcast remotely on Facebook Live. The winner took home a $3,500 prize.

Zelaya says his ultimate goal is to make ax throwing an Olympic sport.