Blade and Barrel Axe Co.

"Axepert" Autumn Cavanagh inside Blade and Barrel Axe Co. in Auburn's Midtown entertainment district 

Don’t be afraid. Be confident.

That’s the advice Autumn Cavanagh has for people who may be hesitant to throw an axe — a sharp tool mainly used for chopping wood — at Blade and Barrel Axe Co.

“Holding it with an open palm, so your thumb is up and your hand isn’t clenched in a fist, it’s a lot easier to release the axe and get some aim with your follow through,” said Cavanagh, an “axepert” at the facility.

“The follow through is also important because some people, when they’re afraid, they jump back and that will take away a lot of the power and the aim of the axe.”

“You just (have) to be confident in your throw.”

Historically an event in lumberjack competitions, axe-throwing has become popular among the general public. Commercial venues where people can throw axes at targets have been popping up all across the country, and Auburn is no exception. 

Owners Craig and Katie Miller, and Lane and Ashley Minor opened Blade and Barrel in March. They wanted to give adults in the area something fun to do that didn’t involve just going out to a restaurant or bar. 

“It’s a way for adults to interact, meet new people, have fun, bring larger groups and make it to where it’s a different type of night out,” Craig Miller said.

The facility in Auburn’s Midtown entertainment district is open Thursdays through Sundays. It offers public play times and hosts private events such as birthday parties, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties and corporate team-building events.

It’s open to children ages 8 and up. All players must sign waivers. Players who are 18 and younger must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver for them.

Cavanagh thinks axe-throwing venues are gaining popularity because it’s “something new” that any age group can do.

“We’ve had people as old as 82 come in here and throw and they had a great time,” Cavanagh said.

The venue has nine axe-throwing lanes that are equipped with interactive targets. Each lane can accommodate six people. 

There are currently four games guests can play. New games are added every month.

There is a target game, in which players aim for different circular targets and earn points depending on where their axe lands; a Zombie game, in which players try to hit zombies in the face with their axe; and Tic-tac-toe and Connect Four, which follow the rules of those classic games … but with axes.

Cavanagh said the interactive targets are unique.

“You’ve seen people throw axes in their backyards, but it’s not in a game set-up,” Cavanagh said. “Instead of writing on a chalkboard your score, or just using a regular, plain target, this has games where the target moves to all the different positions.”

“It’s more interactive than just throwing (an) axe at a blank piece of wood.”

The facility is fully licensed and insured for BYOB. It rents coolers and supplies guests with ice.

Guests are also allowed to bring food in with them.

“We’ve had birthday parties come in and they’ve had catered trays or big cakes and their own beers,” Cavanagh said. “We’ve had people bring the supplies to make Bloody Mary’s and margaritas and make them in here, which you don’t see very (often) nowadays.”

The venue is safe. 

“Axeperts” like Cavanagh are on hand to show players the correct way to throw the axes, which weigh 1½ pounds. 

There are designated throwing lines that show players how far to stand from the target. The throwing lanes have safety mats that will prevent the axes from bouncing back and hitting players if they miss the target.

If a guest appears to be intoxicated, they are asked to stop throwing axes immediately.

Cavanagh had never thrown an axe before she started working at the facility. Most guests who come in have never done so either.

It takes people, on average, 10 to 12 minutes to get the hang of it, she said.

“I’ll come over, give them a few tips. They kind of look at me like, ‘She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.’ Then they’ll throw it and they’ll be like, ‘Wow, you’re a magician, you need to stay with me the whole night,’” Cavanagh said.

Craig Miller said one thing he and his co-owners are proud of is the fact they’ve had repeat customers. That shows people are enjoying the facility.

“If we see you come in once, we’re seeing you come back two and three times,” Miller said. “That’s a good thing.”

Details:

Public Play Hours:

Thursday: 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday: 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Saturday: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost:

$20 per hour

For more information visit https://bladeandbarrelaxe.com/

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