“Everyone always says, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’” said Ginger Flesher-Sonnier, 49, the owner of Kick Axe, a new bar where guests toss shiny silver axes at big wooden targets. This sporting club has 10 metal-caged ax ranges in which groups of up to 10 are assigned an “ax-pert” who, in addition to providing basic throwing lessons, goes through safety guidelines that separate axes from alcohol (no drinks on the range) and people from targets (all ax retrieval happens at the same time, so no one is throwing).
However, once you hold that little ax, which is a bit heavier than it looks, fears of errant blades dissipate and it becomes all about the thrill of “sticking it” — that is, getting the ax to hit the target with a deeply satisfying wood-splintering thwack. “When they get that first one to sink in, it’s great,” said Ryan Lynch, 24, one of the aptly bearded “ax-perts.” “It’s such a gratifying experience.”
The Place Kick Axe is just off Fourth Avenue, down a semi-industrial street lined with graffiti-covered warehouses. Look for the big plastic bull out front. Inside, there’s a lounge resembling a midcentury-modern mountain lodge. There are big leather couches and tartan chairs, taxidermy and cow skin throw rugs, but also some sparkling satellite chandeliers to remind you that you’re still in Brooklyn.
The Crowd Mostly 20-somethings out in packs for a night of group fun in the Gowanus Industrial Playground; archery, rock climbing and shuffleboard are nearby. There are also some braver, slightly more timid 30-somethings paired up on adventurous date nights. (No ax-murderer jokes, please.) There seems to be an unofficial dress code of country-casual, with the majority wearing plaid or flannel shirts and grungy jeans.
The Playlist The constant thump and clang of axes hitting and missing the targets provide the beat of the night, complemented by the high-pitched squeals and guttural screams of boisterous team competition. Though no one is actually getting hit with an ax, it can sure sound like it.
Getting In Anyone can walk in and sign up for time on a range, if it’s available. But reservations are recommended, especially on weekend nights, which book up quickly with birthday parties or big groups. The rate is $35 per person for 75 minutes. It’s a minimum of eight people to book your own range, otherwise you’ll have to share with strangers. But making new friends is part of the fun here, too.
Drinks Beer and wine only, for obvious reasons: a dozen canned beers (starting at $3) and a small selection of reds and whites ($7.50). Bar snacks include Pop-Tarts and microwave soups (from $4).
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