LIBERTYVILLE – Libertyville has a new edge with the opening of Lumberjaxe Axe Lounge.
While patrons aim at bull’s-eye targets, owner Jason Wright aims for the business to become one of the most popular ax-throwing destinations in northern Illinois.
A fun thing to try during a night out for many, ax throwing is one of the fastest-growing recreational sports in the world.
The Libertyville attraction is among the latest in a slew of new ax-throwing spots in the country.
“They’re popping up everywhere,” Wright said. “They’re crazy, crazy popular.”
While many ax-throwing facilities focus on the sport, Wright said he designed his business as a place where customers can hang out and make a night of it, similar to a bowling alley or virtual golf.
Everyone from beginners to experts and small to large groups are welcome. An hour of ax throwing costs $30 a person, according to the LumberJaxe Axe Lounge website at Lumberjaxe.net.
The lounge opened Sept. 17.
Wright hosted a grand opening Oct. 1 with village leaders.
Patrons have to be 12 years old to throw, and those under 18 require adult supervision. With safety precautions in place, staff members are on hand to teach proper ax-throwing techniques.
Along with 15 lanes for throwing a 1.5-pound ax at a bull’s-eye 13 feet away, Lumberjaxe Axe Lounge features two big screen TVs, dart boards and the interactive video game version of Golden Tee Golf. Patrons can order food and drinks from nearby Austin’s in Libertyville.
Wright said he intends to pursue a license to sell beer and wine, and he’s looking to open another locale at Gurnee Mills Mall in Gurnee. He also plans to offer Lumberjaxe Axe Lounge mobile units to “bring the party to you.”
The owner of a tree landscaping business for 23 years, Wright sold the business to pursue the new opportunity in the entertainment industry.
“There’s nothing like this around here,” he said. “I saw a golden opportunity and I took it.”
The suggestion actually came from his girlfriend while the two vacationed in Wisconsin Dells, he said.
The two booked a night of ax throwing.
“She was like, ‘You should do one of these,’ ” Wright said.
Originally from Iowa and now living in Lindenhurst, Wright said he eyed Libertyville as a locale. Only two other ax-throwing facilities are open in Lake County, one in Buffalo Grove and another in South Barrington.
With lumberjack roots, ax throwing grew into a sport in the early 2000s, with enthusiasts first gathering in rural settings. The sport now involves leagues, rules and coaches throughout the world.
It’s also become an entertainment draw with commercial ax-throwing venues opening throughout the world. They entice patrons to throw out of enjoyment or perhaps frustration, with the release of the ax serving as a stress reliever.
Wright suggests it as a bonding activity for families and groups such as co-workers.
For many, it’s simply “something different” to do, he said.
“Going to a restaurant and eating dinner and having drinks and going to a movie theater, that’s good fun, but that gets boring after awhile,” he said. “I think this is just something new.”
The first time Wright tried his hand at throwing an ax, he said he didn’t really hit his mark. But he’s gotten better with practice.
“I don’t think there’s anybody that can beat me, not to brag,” he said.
It’s all about learning the proper technique and form. Although, for some, it comes naturally.
“There’s definitely a teaching to it. It’s kind of like a bowling ball. Some people can throw down the alley. Some people put a curve on it,” he said. “I have had people that have never thrown an ax before. Someone works with them once and we get them to stick the ax to the board. They have fun.”