Beer drinking and axe-throwing may not sound like the safest combination on earth.
But Natalie Hauck, co-owner of You Bet Your Axe in Elkton, Md., swears that it’s not as dangerous as it sounds.
You Bet Your Axe is part of a growing trend in public sporting, with both a World and National Axe Throwing League, featuring league and tournament play, and plenty of room for the casual thrower.
At YBYA, there are seven throwing lanes, two targets per lane, with up to 12 people per lane, hurling handheld hatchets at a wooden bullseye.
The play moves pretty much like bowling, with 10 “frames,” and scoring based on which ring of the target is hit, similar to darts, with each ring valued at different points.
Each lane also has a coach to help players learn the proper technique and to keep up with the scoring. Instead of numbers, the lanes are named after locations Hauck said are important to her and her partners – Elkton, Woodbury, Scranton, and the like.
Sessions are an hour or two usually, Hauck said, with many folks doing the first hour and enjoying it so much, they ask for a second.
Hauck said their customers come from all walks of life and any age, provided they’re 21 and up.
“Saturday nights, we’re slammed in here,” Hauck said, adding that business has been steadily increasing since opening in December 2018. “And we consider this place a family place, despite the age restriction, so we don’t have that seedy element in here.”
Hauck said she and her partner Nicole Ball got hooked when they checked out a similar venue in New Jersey.
“Halfway through the game, I turned to Nicole and said, ‘this is awesome – we could do this,’” Hauck said. “We started from scratch, we didn’t want to pay a franchise fee. We thought, how hard could this be? It’s not rocket science.”
She added that while they originally looked at locations in Wilmington and Newark, zoning and other restrictions relegated them to industrial parks in the city – an area they wanted to avoid.
“When we found this spot, we thought it was perfect – it’s where my husband’s former gym was, so the space was wide open, which is what we needed,” she said.
And again, while it may sound like a dangerous blend on paper, no one has been out of control intoxicated, and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly on the good side, Hauck said.
“We see people walk by, and they literally step back and peer in,” Hauck said. “And they’ll walk in like, ‘what is going on in here?’ And when we explain it, some people are still like, ‘this place exists?’”
For more information, or to book a lane reservation, visit youbetyouraxe.com.