‘Tomahawkin’ Tries Ax Throwing as Attraction in Stafford

By DAVID BIGGY | May 01, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy READY, AIM: Where the former SBR Tire Exchange was on Route 9, Tomahawkin soon will transform the location into an ax-throwing haven for those who enjoy target sports.

Stafford Township — More than 130 ax-throwing clubs and locations in 16 countries across the globe are affiliated with the World Axe Throwing League. Sam Ross couldn’t recall the name of the venue he visited more than a year ago, but with Throw House among them there’s a likelihood he tossed axes at one of the few WATL affiliates in the Philadelphia area.

“I went to one in Philly and thought it was such a great time,” said Ross, the owner of Advantage Vapors on Route 9 in Stafford Township, who is planning to open Tomahawkin two doors away at the site of the former SBR Tire Exchange. “Then I started going to some of the other ax-throwing places in the Cherry Hill area, and it really caught fire with me.

“I’ve been trying to do this with a friend of mine for the past year, but I couldn’t find the right location. When SBR closed down, I found the spot. My friend since has moved onto something else, so we couldn’t make it happen together. So I did it myself. I’m excited about bringing something different to Manahawkin.”

For those who don’t know much about the sport of ax throwing, it’s really very simple. You throw an ax at a wooden target similar to an archery target, and scoring points is based on which ring you stick your hatchet – the highest points scored at the bull’s-eye, while lower points are tallied as you move out from the center. However, similar to Skee-ball, two special spots in the upper corner of the target offer bonus points.

“Ax-throwing places, or hatchet houses as they’re sometimes called, have been popping up all over during the past few years,” Ross said. “It’s becoming a popular sport, especially in the eastern half of the United States. There are a whole bunch of these venues in New Jersey now.”

The nearest two – Bury the Hatchet and Down the Hatchet – are in Toms River. Stumpy’s Hatchet House, based in Eatontown, claims to be the first indoor ax-throwing venue in the country, opening its doors in 2016. In Cherry Hill, Choppers is one of the state’s WATL affiliates.

But Tomahawkin will be one of the first in Stafford Township. Interestingly, another ax-throwing venue soon will be opening on Route 72.

“It would have been spectacular to be the only one in town,” Ross said. “But some competition locally will be good for both of us.”

How Tomahawkin will stand out remains a mystery for now, as Ross is still hammering out details as he gets the building located at 817 North Main St. prepared for business. He’s hoping to open the doors just before Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re going to have eight lanes, with two targets per lane,” he said. “The lanes will be 18 feet long, and most people will throw between 12 and 15 feet. A chain link fence will separate the lanes. I expect a lot of groups of four or eight people will be using the space most of the time. We’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be fun to see how it all develops.”

Ross said he soon will finalize rates, but the typical cost to reserve a pair of lanes – it’s similar to when you show up at a bowling alley, paying for use of two lanes at a time – is $20 to $25 per hour, with group discounts depending on the number of throwers playing, or multiple-hour discounts. Tomahawkin will be a BYOB location; no hard liquor will be permitted on site.

“Beer will be the only alcohol allowed,” he said. “Safety is going to be a big thing. And from everything I’ve researched about similar places, the rules and regulations emphasize safety, and it’s really pretty safe compared to other sports.”

Ross said he expects to have some ax-throwing coaches on hand to help out newcomers to the sport or who can offer tips to repeat throwers still getting the hang of it. Tournaments and in-house leagues also are likely to become standard as the operation builds and more people locally start to get acclimated to the sport. Age limits and operating hours have not been designated yet.

“We still have some things to figure out, and a few of them will be determined according to our insurance,” Ross said. “But we’re hoping to see a lot of people come by and try it out, and maybe become regular ax-throwers with us.”

For now, Tomahawkin can be found on Facebook.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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