WATCH | Isn't it time to try something different for your next night out? At Stumpy's Hatchet House in Eatontown, New Jersey, you can drink beer while perfecting your axe-throwing technique. We tried it out for ourselves and spoke to co-owners Stuart and Kelly Josberger about how it all began.
It all started in a backyard
Stuart and Kelly set up a target in their backyard and began throwing hatchets at it with another couple, Mark and Trish Oliphant. Soon, they started getting pretty serious about hatchet-throwing, inviting friends over and holding competitions. "We'd be out there till all hours of the night," said Stuart.
One evening, the two couples got the idea of turning their hobby into a business, and Stumpy's Hatchet House was born as the first BYOB hatchet-throwing center in the country.
You can expect a learning curve
"It's a pretty level playing field," Kelly told us. General athleticism doesn't necessarily translate into hatchet-throwing skills, and it can take people anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to get the axe to stick to the target.
There's no 100 percent foolproof method to throwing the hatchet. Some people prefer throwing it with one hand, and others go for a two-handed grip. Do what feels right, but remember to keep your wrist firm when you release. And of course, be patient. You'll get it eventually (maybe).
It's actually safe
To date, they haven't had any accidents at Stumpy's, despite jokes about the seemingly dangerous combo of beer and hatchets. Stuart knocks on his locally-sourced wooden bench as he tells us this.
Before anyone can throw a hatchet, they'll have to go through a brief training session. On display in the training room is a chalkboard of straightforward rules. First and foremost, you must always keep your eye on your hatchet. You have to throw it overhand, and trick shots are not allowed.
Going through a break-up or divorce?
Throwing hatchets as hard as you possibly can is undoubtedly an excellent method of handling negative emotions. After hitting the target a few times, you're pretty much guaranteed to feel better. So if you're looking to get over a previous relationship in a healthy way, Stumpy's holds "Axe Your Ex" divorce parties.
They try to keep the experience positive. "It's not about necessarily penalizing your ex but more so just to let go of the past and start a new future," explained Stuart.
Birthday parties and bachelor parties are also common at the hatchet house.
And it's a great way to bond
There's something about throwing hatchets together that just makes people grow closer. "You don't see a lot of people on their phones texting. Here, it's about social interaction, and people are just having old-fashioned fun," said Kelly.
The four owners are working to grow the corporate team-building side of the business. Because is there anywhere cooler to have a meeting or a training session? Definitely not. Plus, hatchet-throwing can clear your mind and ultimately lead to your next great idea.
They sell a ton of merch with all the axe puns you could ever want.
Book in advance
It's no surprise that Stumpy's is quite the hot spot, and weekends are filling up fast. If you want a chance to hit the bullseye, advanced reservations are the way to go. Stumpy's is open Wednesday through Sunday, and it'll cost you $40 for a two-hour throwing session.
Can't make it to New Jersey? No need to worry. Plans to franchise the business are in the works, so keep your eye out for new locations. "We're hoping to put Stumpy's Hatchet Houses across the country," said Stuart.