Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Couple taps into growing sport of ax-throwing

Daily Inter Lake | November 21, 2021 12:00 AM

Rachel and Jimmy Garrey have a cutting-edge new family activity — ax throwing.

The couple started American Axe Throwing in Kalispell to provide a year-round, family-friendly, indoor recreational 14-lane facility inside the old senior center on Second Avenue West.

“We’re focusing on the entire family,” said Jimmy.

Ax-throwing will be open to everyone ages 10 and older when the facility opens to the public Jan. 1. Right now it's only open to league participants.

Patrons can practice as individuals, compete against their friends and family, or even join leagues that are hosted at the new venue. It’s all part of a growing trend the Garreys are excited to bring to downtown Kalispell.

“The sport is just exploding,” Jimmy said. “Throwing things is just fun.”

The Garreys had been thinking about creating a family fun center when they went on a date night to Hank’s Hatchets in Whitefish and got hooked on tossing hatchets. They decided to build lanes of their own and got connected with the World Axe Throwing League, a global ax-throwing organization.

Now, Jimmy competes on the world stage through the world league, and American Axe Throwing hosts competitions affiliated with the global organization.

In the past two months, American Axe Throwing served as a venue for two world league championships — an eight-week Standard Hatchet competition and nine-hour marathon event, which Jimmy happened to win.

Going forward, Rachel said she wants to provide membership options at their facility so hardcore competitors can gain access to the lanes any time of day to practice their throws.

Jimmy has also started building his own axes with customized heads and handles for those who really want a specialized approach.

“We sleep, drink and eat axes,” Rachel said.

EVEN THOUGH the Garreys have gone all in on the sport, they want American Axe Throwing to be open to everyone.

“We want a welcoming environment,” Rachel stressed.

American Axe Throwing will host World Axe Throwing League-certified coaches to help introduce potential athletes to the technique. The building, which has been fully remodeled, is also completely Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible. The business also will offer discounts to veterans and first responders.

Rachel said they recognize the idea of ax-throwing can be intimidating, but they want to make the sport accessible to everyone.

Both Rachel and Jimmy gushed about the rewarding feeling they get whenever they see the look on someone’s face the first time their ax sticks into a target.

To bring that opportunity to younger children, the Garreys are looking into adding alternative ax-throwing opportunities, such as soft axes that stick with magnets or Velcro. Their 11-year-old son provides a good test subject for their efforts at accommodating a younger crowd.

“We take safety seriously,” said Rachel, emphasizing their family-friendly focus. Unlike some venues, American Axe Throwing does not allow alcohol at the facility.

In addition to ax-throwing, the 6,000-square-foot facility will have a range of additional activity options. Downstairs, the Garreys are including an arcade, pool tables, foosball, shuffleboard and a gourmet soda bar with concessions. There will also be a stage for live music and a private room for parties.

In the summer, they hope to bring in food trucks and offer mobile ax-throwing at farmers markets and other events.

“We have lofty plans,” Rachel said. “It’ll be fun.”

American Axe Throwing is located at 403 Second Ave. W. in Kalispell.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.